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Countryside Alliance Wales responds to Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation

The Countryside Alliance exists to represent and advocate on behalf of rural communities, and in responding to the Welsh Government consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme seeks to outline the key rural concerns with the policy direction.

Welsh Government modelling found that the impact of the Scheme on Welsh agriculture could mean the loss of £125 million in farm income, 122,000 head of livestock and about 5,500 jobs.

Agricultural support represents only 2% of the Welsh Government’s budget, yet a Yougov poll conducted for NFU Cymru in November 2023 found that 82% support the Welsh Government providing financial support to farmers to produce food.

The opportunity presented by the UK’s departure from the Common Agricultural Policy should be pursued with greater ambition than the mere ‘managed’ decline of Welsh farming.

Using the skills and experience of farmers is often the best way to improve biodiversity and secure the future of our vital natural resources. If farming in upland, and other marginal areas, were to be abandoned because of changes to support payments, there would be detrimental effects on the habitat in these areas and the species they support.

The interests of a globally responsible Wales, which the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 obliges public bodies to pursue, would be better served by seeking to increase, not reduce, the number of livestock reared in Wales to its world-leading environmental and welfare standards.

The Welsh Government’s consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme represents a key milestone in the most significant programme of change for the Welsh agricultural sector since the UK joined the Common Agricultural Policy in 1973. Its ramifications stretch beyond direct farming to touch all aspects of the food supply chain and rural life in Wales.

We support and endorse the positions being presented in response to this consultation by NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales. We recognise, however, that as an organisation we lack their direct, field-based expertise in determining the real-world impacts of the Welsh Government’s proposals on working farms, farmers and agricultural workers.

Our Briefing Note, which has been sent to MPs, breaks down our points under the following topics:

  • The consultation
  • Modelled impacts
  • Food production
  • Farm incomes
  • Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015

Read the Briefing Note in full

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