The National Farmers’ Union of Wales (NFU Cymru) has welcomed the news that the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) transition will start in 2026.

Welsh rural affairs secretary Huw Irranca-Davies confirmed 2026 as the transition year for the SFS today (Tuesday, May 14).

He also confirmed that the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be available next year.

NFU Cymru said it welcomes the cabinet secretary’s “meaningful engagement” and underlined the importance of government working in partnership with industry to ensure the scheme delivers for Welsh farming.

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said: “We very much share the thoughts of the cabinet secretary that this scheme must not be introduced until it is ready.

“Neither farming families nor government can afford to have a scheme that fails to deliver on our vision for food, nature, climate and communities.

“This is a scheme that will underpin food production, our farmed environment, our communities, our rural businesses who are dependent on a thriving farming sector, our language and our culture for a generation to come.

“I welcome the commitment from the cabinet secretary to take the time to listen to those impacted by the proposals and to work in partnership on the future development of the scheme.”

Basic Payment Scheme

Jones said Davies has made a “sensible and pragmatic decision” to continue with the BPS for 2025.

“This early decision provides much needed stability and certainty to a sector that has faced significant challenges this past year, while also allowing the time needed for the ministerial roundtable to work through the areas that have been identified during the consultation period as needing further consideration,” he said.

“NFU Cymru has previously highlighted that the £238 million annual investment in Welsh farming through the BPS underpins an agricultural output of £2.1 billion, a return on investment of nearly £9 for every £1 of public money spent.

“This budget has remained static for over a decade, despite inflation having risen by over 30% in this period.

“We look to our government to ensure that the 2025 BPS budget ceiling is at least maintained when the Welsh government budget is published later this year.”

Climate change

Jones said conflict around the globe and the increasing impacts of climate change means that global food supply chains are being increasingly impacted and vulnerable to disruption.

“This just serves to reiterate that long-term stability support to underpin domestic food production is as important as it has ever been and must be included within the universal baseline payment of the SFS,” he said.

“With the opportunity the cabinet secretary has provided through his announcement today, there is a responsibility on all of us – government, stakeholders and farmers – to ensure that the SFS works for Wales.”

“Earlier this year NFU Cymru spoke with over 5,000 farmers at roadshows and other events the length and breadth of Wales, it was a sobering and sometimes harrowing experience seeing first-hand the level of concern and worry amongst farming families at some of the proposals within the consultation.”

Jones said the time before the SFS transition must be used to “redouble our efforts to get this scheme right for all farm types”.

“A sufficiently long and well-managed transition, coupled with detailed economic analysis prior to the scheme being finalised, is needed to ensure that the scheme delivers for farmers, the supply chain and for the rural communities and businesses who rely on farming families for their vitality and prosperity.”