The livestock board of the Welsh National Farmers’ Union (NFU Cymru) has said that a “major overhaul” of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) is needed to make it “workable for Welsh livestock farmers”.

The union’s livestock board met recently to discuss the Welsh government’s third and final consultation on the SFS.

Chair of NFU Cymru’s livestock board, Rob Lewis, said: “What is a major worry for the beef and sheep producers of Wales, is Welsh government’s current proposals set out in the SFS consultation along with its associated published impact assessment, which suggests we could see a reduction of 122,000 livestock units across Wales in the next five years.

“This equates to 800,000 sheep from a total flock of 4.8 million breeding ewes or 122,000 adult beef cattle.

“Not only would this impact on the bottom line of thousands of farm businesses but the effects would impact the whole of the Welsh rural economy.”

Lewis said the government’s own economic appraisals put the value of the Welsh meat and meat products sector at £1.4 billion, with 64 business units located across Wales and 6,000 employed in these units.

“Many of these plants rely on a critical mass of produce from farms in Wales so cannot afford to see a reduction in stock numbers from farms in Wales,” he said.

“This goes against the government’s aspirations of continuing to grow food products in Wales to meet the increasing demand for our high quality PGI Beef and Lamb, both in the UK and in the vast overseas market.”

Sustainable Farming Scheme

Lewis said at the recent NFU Cymru livestock board meeting, concerns were raised about the practicality and cumulative administrative burden associated with the delivery of the proposed universal actions.

“Members highlighted that the cost incurred/income foregone payment methodology proposed by Welsh government for undertaking the Universal Action requirements fails to recognise the value to society of the actions being undertaken by Welsh farmers,” he said.

“The board were clear a long-term stability commitment within the SFS was required to recognise the economic, environmental, social and cultural contribution that Welsh farming makes to society and to underpin the resilience of food production in Wales and the continued secure supply of high quality, safe and affordable food from Wales.

“The NFU Cymru livestock board believes that a major overhaul of the scheme will need to take place before it is workable for Welsh livestock farmers.”