NSA supports Welsh Affairs Committee call to protect Welsh farmland

11th April 2022

Responding to the Welsh Affairs Committee report last week, NSA says it strongly believes Welsh farming should be supported and protected, creating opportunity for the next generation while recognising the importance of Welsh agriculture to food production, local communities, biodiversity and land management.

The report calls for greater transparency and information about the purchase of viable farmland in Wales by corporations using carbon offset schemes, citing that 90% of land in Wales is used for agriculture and contributing, comparably, significantly more to the Welsh economy than farming in England.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “We have a history of new initiatives, often with good intentions, distorting markets and doing more damage than good. Carbon trading could well fall into this category if we are not careful, so I welcome and support the recommendations made by the Welsh Affairs Committee. Now is the time to stop incentivising one strand of sustainability and recognise that sustainable agriculture, with grassland farming at its heart, can deliver for the climate, for communities and, of course, for food production.”

NSA fears that Welsh heritage, local communities and sustainable food production are being undermined by unregulated carbon offset schemes for the benefit of net-emitter companies. It urges the UK and devolved nation governments to recognise that agriculture is in a unique position in that, while there is pollution from the sector, land management practices are aften employed that sequester carbon benefits biodiversity, habitat and food security.

Helen Roberts, NSA Cymru/Wales Regional Development Officer, also welcomes this report. She says: “If carbon trading is allowed to continue uncontrolled then large swathes of Welsh farmland will be lost forever. I believe Welsh family farms are in the best position to manage the land and make decisions to maintain the viability of our industry for food production without compromising the environment.

“Welsh lamb is leading the way in climate conscious production and is widely recognised by the public as high quality and being produced in tune with the environment. At a time when agriculture throughout the UK is coming under extreme pressure from rising input prices and free trade agreements with high exporting nations, Welsh sheep farmers need to see a higher value placed on the product they produce, the environmental benefits and other public goods they provide, and the local communities they underpin.”