The National Sheep Association (NSA) Cymru/Wales Region has submitted a response to the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation in Wales outlining the need for an urgent overhaul to the current proposals.

The NSA said this must be done to recognise the value of Welsh food across the supply chain.

The SFS consultation closed for responses yesterday (Thursday, March 7) with Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths thanking everyone that took the time to respond to it.

“Every response to the consultation will be carefully considered,” she said.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker, said: “NSA is especially concerned that Welsh government continues to force a proposed implementation date of 2025 for the SFS when there is not a detailed scheme proposal available that is fit for purpose or indeed any payment rates or modelling that can indicate any kind of business stability or future for the sector.

“It is hugely disappointing that Welsh government believes farming businesses can adapt to such a significant change during the next nine months and again this demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the farming industry.

“There is still no facility for commons, tenants, share farming, contract farming, graziers, cross border farms or new entrants within the scheme proposals.”

NSA Cymru/Wales development officer, Helen Roberts, said it is “incredibly worrying” that the current modelling shows a “significant contraction of the Welsh agricultural industry, resulting in a major drop in breeding sheep, and significant reductions across sectors”.

“The economic impact will be far reaching and significant across the wider supply chain and have severe impacts on rural and urban communities across the nation,” she said.

“There are severe impacts to the entire British supply chain not only for lamb but all food produce.

“Welsh government has in the past encouraged and attracted investment into the largest employing sector in Wales (the food supply chain).”

Roberts said there are now significant concerns that this contraction in the agriculture sector will not only limit investment in Wales, but also innovation whilst encouraging businesses to look elsewhere for opportunities.

“NSA continues to advocate for Welsh primary produce, renowned for its high environmental, welfare and health standards, a huge number of which are entrenched in law, to be at the heart of any future food, trade, health and environmental and farming policy,” she said.