Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has today (Friday, March 8) thanked everyone that took the time to respond to the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation.

The Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation closed for responses yesterday (Thursday, March 7).

“I’d like to thank everyone who has taken part in this consultation, or attended one of our roadshows. Every response to the consultation will be carefully considered,” Griffiths said.

“There are many examples of the very highest standards of farming and food production in Wales.

“We believe that we must support more farmers to achieve those high standards to ensure a sustainable future for our rural communities and our nation as a whole.

“We will use the wealth of valuable insight gained through the consultation to consider how best this can be achieved.”

Griffiths said every consultation response, and the issues raised and discussed at the 10 Welsh government roadshow events during the consultation period, will be “analysed and properly considered”.

“We will publish that analysis and a summary of the responses later in the spring,” she said.

The SFS has been met with apprehension by Welsh farming unions NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW).

NFU Cymru said that a “major overhaul” of the scheme is needed to make it “workable for Welsh livestock farmers”, and the FUW voiced concerns relating to tenant farmers and proper support for new entrants.

SFS consultation

“I have been clear I expect changes to be made to the proposals as a result of the consultation so that we can most effectively support a transition to more sustainable farming in Wales, as our present circumstances demand,” Griffiths said.

“No decision will be taken on any of the proposals, including how we achieve the requirement for habitat and trees, until a full analysis of the responses has been carried out.

“Our aim is to secure a successful future for Wales and for our farmers. We want them to continue producing food sustainably into the future, in ways that we know many farmers already practice right across Wales.”

Griffiths said sustainable food production delivers additional benefits such as improvements to business efficiency, water quality and biodiversity, which in turn ensures that food production can continue for generations to come.

“These are benefits to wider society and we continue to believe that public funding for farming is well justified on the basis of the kind of social value farmers provide.

“I’d like to assure everyone who has taken part in the consultation – we are listening and we will take all views into account.  We have to get this right, the future of food production in Wales depends on it.”