Skip To Content

NSA urges Welsh Government rethink amidst Sustainable Farming Scheme turmoil

28th February 2024

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is growing increasingly concerned about the rising tensions between Ministers and industry with regards future farming policy in Wales.

Although Welsh Government is still in a process of consultation on its future farming support schemes NSA shares the wider industry opinion that it is simply not listening, causing serious tension that risks undermining constructive work from recent years.

As the Welsh agricultural sector gathers to express its serious concerns for the future of the sector in Cardiff today, NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “The apparent lack of interest in the farming industry from Welsh Ministers is damaging, not only at farm level, but in the wider economic prosperity and society of Wales. The level of tension can be leaving Ministers in no doubt there needs to be a reset in the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) proposals.

“The suggested plans for SFS are not all wrong by any means and most farmers agree that we have to make progress on climate and nature emergencies. But the proposals leave little flexibility, are quite draconian in nature, and are still woefully short on detail meaning that farmers are not clear what is expected of them, or what money will be made available.”

NSA has welcomed the ongoing conversations within industry and Welsh Government but say that now is the time for action.

NSA Cymru / Wales Region Development Officer Helen Roberts says: “It is clear that the current format of the scheme is not fit for a 2025 rollout. The long- and short-term impacts on the agricultural supply chain, Wales’s largest employer, will have drastic and devastating effects on the food and drink sector in Wales.

“There are significant issues around land availability, costs likely to be incurred and accessibility to the scheme, and although Welsh Government is continuing to narrate support for farming businesses and food production, the actions do not amount to that in any meaningful way. The seven year ‘co-design’ process has resulted in a scheme outline that has not taken into account the concerns raised by industry during the consultation process to date.”

NSA Cymru / Wales Region and the wider NSA are now urging Welsh Government to address the fundamental issues within farming policy in Wales and are engaged in developmental conversations.

Mrs Roberts continues: “NSA is insisting Welsh Government rethinks and takes notice of the prominent industry backlash. NSA is especially concerned that Welsh Government continues to force a proposed implementation date of 2025 when there is not a scheme proposal available that is fit for purpose or any payment rates or modelling that can indicate any kind of business stability or future for the sector. It is desperately disappointing Welsh Governments believe farming businesses can adapt to such a significant change during the next nine months. This again demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of our farming industry.”