Welsh Lib Dems raise concerns over Sustainable Farming Scheme

20 Feb 2024
Farming

This week in the Senedd, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have raised their concerns over the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

Welsh Labour’s Sustainable Farming Scheme has come under heavy criticism from farming unions in recent weeks, leading to several protests.

Last weekend saw farmers hold a “go-slow” protest at a Welsh Labour leadership debate in Newtown, Powys.

According to the Welsh Government’s own impact assessment, the SFS could cause an 11% cut in jobs in the farming sector directly.

The same assessment also suggested a £125.3 million hit to output from the sector, and a loss of £199 million to farm business income.

Commenting, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:

“I know from first hand experience that many farmers earnestly support the desire to make nature-friendly farming the standard across Wales.

But when they are being presented something as complex as the Sustainable Farming Scheme, these farmers are at the same time rightfully anxious about the prospect of transitioning.

For years, farmers have strained under mounting regulations that impose excessive paperwork demands. Countless studies have shown that paperwork overload is often the top cause of stress amongst farmers, with 60% of farmers overwhelmed by constant form filling.

With our farmers already suffering policy fatigue around pollution controls, health and safety and disease testing, the SFS’s extensive and complicated actions could prove to be a mental breaking point for so many.

The Welsh Labour government must sit down and listen to the concerns of farmers, they must recognise the complexities and difficulties surrounding their approach to funding our farms.

Our farmers shouldn’t be turned into scapegoats by Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay who have shown time and time again a complete lack of understanding of the needs of rural areas.

We cannot afford to alienate our farming community, particularly when they are willing to work with us in transitioning to a greener approach to farming.”