The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says the latest Welsh government Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals are ‘on the right track’ but that numerous concerns exist around some of the details.

The Sustainable Farming Scheme Outline Proposals for 2025 document, published by the Welsh government on July 6, will form the basis of future discussions about the scheme that is set to replace Wales’ Basic Payment and Glastir schemes from 2025.

Responding to the document, FUW president Glyn Roberts said:

“We welcome those areas of the proposals that have changed to reflect the concerns we highlighted in response to previous proposals.

"Notwithstanding some areas which raise major alarms, and the devil that lies in further details, the Welsh government has moved on leaps and bounds and now has an overarching framework that is not dissimilar to what we have proposed.”

The outline proposals include a ‘baseline payment’ for undertaking ‘universal actions’ that the will apply to all farms in the scheme which the government says will ‘provide farmers with much needed stability’ - mirroring the FUW’s calls for a sustainability and stability payment based on universal actions.

Optional higher level actions would attract further payments, as would collaborative actions undertaken with other farmers - again mirroring the framework advocated by the FUW since 2018.

“However, there are some concerning suggestions regarding the universal actions that, while being possible or practical for some farmers, would not be for large numbers of others,” said Roberts.

Sustainable Farming Scheme

“The proposal that 10% of all farms should comprise tree cover will be a major concern for many farmers for whom this would mean losing a large proportion of their productive land, and there are also concerns as to how this would impact on tenants," he added.

"There are also some farms, such as in exposed coastal areas or those in designated areas, where meeting this obligation would simply not be possible.”

Roberts said the FUW had already raised concerns regarding the implications of a ten percent tree cover requirement with the Welsh government, and had received acknowledgements that such obstacles and impacts needed to be taken account of during the next phase of scheme development.

“As well as needing to ensure the universal actions are practical on all Welsh farms, it is also essential that the budget for the baseline payment is sufficient to ensure the scheme is attractive and allows farming families to continue producing food while contributing to their local economy.”