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Senedd petition launched calling for changes to ‘unworkable’ farm subsidy scheme

26 Feb 2024 4 minute read
The SFS Senedd petition.

Emily Price

A Senedd petition calling for changes to be made to the Welsh Government’s ‘unworkable’ proposals for its farm subsidy scheme has reached over 14,000 signatures.

Frustrations have been vented by farmers in recent weeks over the Welsh Government’s proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme which will replace previous EU subsidies.

It will require farmers to bring their existing tree and woodland cover up to 10% – and earmark another 10% for habitat.

The SFS will be voluntary – but will be the main source of government support for farmers in Wales in future.

The Welsh Government says the scheme is designed to ensure farmers are able to continue  sustainably and productively farming on land despite the changing climate.

But concerned farmers say that SFS requirements will squeeze what are already very fine margins in terms of the viability of farm businesses.

Struggling 

A Senedd petition was launched by Jethro Small named, “Scrap the ‘Universal Actions’ and payment reductions in the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme”.

It has reached over 14,400 signatures within a few weeks of it being live and will run until August 8.

It warns that the requirements of the new scheme will have a knock on effect for food production leading to job losses in the struggling sector.

Welsh farmers are currently facing a number of issues which are having huge repercussions for their livelihoods including continuous bovine TB breakdowns and bureaucratic pollution regulations.

In the Senedd petition details, Mr Small states: “The proposed ‘compulsory’ 10% planting of trees & 10% reverting productive land to habitat, will lead to an obvious 20%+ reduction in food produced in wales, jobs losses & businesses overall turnover in an already struggling industry.

“This will have a huge knock on effect to rural businesses, communities and families overall living standards. Every universal action increases labour/paperwork and costs to an already strained occupation, yet this is not reflected by increased payments. Unworkable!”

Losses

He adds: “Calculated predictions from ADAS estimate a 10.8% or 122,200 reduction in livestock units, 11% or over 5,500 job losses, 125.3million pound hit to output from the sector and a 199 million pound loss in farm business incomes.

“It does virtually nothing for the country’s food security, or the future of the agricultural industry. There has been a huge amount of good environmental work done by farmers through previous schemes that threatens to be lost and reversed due to the simple fact that entering this scheme will lead to a financial reductions, at a time when input costs and expenses have all risen.

“The scheme if unchanged will cause many farm closures, especially startup or tenanted farms. Many of the universal actions point toward the ‘Net Zero’ targets, but at what cost? A country that can not produce its own food, is not ‘sustainable’! This scheme is unsustainable!”

If a Senedd petition gets over 10,000 signatures, the Petitions Committee will consider asking for a debate in the Senedd Chamber – but this is not guaranteed.

Last week, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak publicly backed protesting farmers outside the Welsh Conservative conference in Llandudno.

It comes as farmers prepare for a mass protest against politicians in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday (February 28).

The consultation on the SFS will end on March 7 and rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths has urged farmers to take part.

Thanks

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Farming is very important to Wales and our economy and we want a successful future for Welsh farming.

“We have had a seven-year conversation with farmers to design future farming support and we are committed to continuing to working with farmers to develop the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

“The scheme is currently out for consultation and we would like to thank the thousands of farmers who have already responded and attended the 10 Welsh Government Roadshow sessions across Wales.

“This is a genuine consultation and no decisions will be taken on any element of the proposal, including how we achieve the requirement for habitat and trees, until we have conducted a full analysis of the consultation responses.

“We fully expect to make changes to the proposals as a result of the consultation. We are listening and we will consider all responses. We encourage everyone to reply with their views by 7 March.”

Jack Sargeant, Chair of the Petitions Committee said: “I welcome the Petition and the engagement of so many people across Wales.

“Once the Petition has closed, we look forward to discussing the item in Committee at the earliest possible opportunity.”


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Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Nah. Wont sign. Smells of Conservatove setup and don’t know who set it up and the squirrel botherer likes to go on Gbeebies for bantz with farage and melville.

karl
karl
1 month ago

Last thing I would sign. They had their cake with EU sub’s and to many pictured at recent protests are Tufton bigots in disguise. This smells of the usual brexit delivering suspects. I’d sign a counter petition though

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
1 month ago

Ooh, exciting, will that confused Tory councillor be involved again?

(https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/c4ny18dy5nro)

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
1 month ago

Farmers do not have to take the money and sign upto the scheme. But why do farmers expect to be subsidised? Oh, because farming does not pay which is why even while in the EU and being paid to produce surpluses there numbers always dropped. Oh and the country will never be able to feed itself if farming concentrates on animals solely as it is very inefficient.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Too right Welsh farmers are very good at producing a lot of (heavily subsidised) lamb, beef and dairy – most of which is exported – but are pretty useless at producing fruit, vegetables (except potatoes) and grain. And yet they claim to give us ‘food security’.

Hell Welsh farmers can’t even produce enough leeks (supposedly our national vegetable), most leeks consumed in Wales are grown in England.

What we really need in Wales are more market gardeners not more whinging whining farmers.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

I don’t think farmers understand the concepts of ‘voluntary’ and ‘consultation’.

Any sympathy I had for them has now evaporated.

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