The Tenant Farmers Association in Wales (TFA Cymru) has said that the decision of the Welsh government to introduce new agricultural pollution regulations across all farms will achieve nothing except adding costs to farms and driving some out of business.

TFA Cymru chairman, Dennis Matheson, said: “The vast majority of farms across Wales operate to very high standards of pollution control.

“Sadly, a tiny number of operators continue to flout the existing regulations and deserve to be penalised.

However, the Welsh government is using this as an excuse to hit the whole of the industry with costly new regulations. Tarring the whole of the industry with the same brush is not appropriate.

“Increasing the regulatory bar will do nothing to improve compliance amongst the small number of individuals who willfully ignore the existing rules.

“Instead, the Welsh government should be stepping up its enforcement of the existing rules.”

Contradicting decisions

Matheson continued:

“The decision of the Welsh government is also contrary to the recommendations of its own advisory panel.

“The Pollution Subgroup of the Welsh Land Management Forum facilitated by Natural Resources Wales has consistently argued for better enforcement and the promotion of good practice.

As a member of the Pollution Subgroup it feels like we have been wasting our time meeting, discussing, debating and providing advice to the government.

The government didn’t even have the decency to consult with the subgroup before announcing its decision.

“This is not evidenced-based policy-making, it’s a knee-jerk reaction and completely wrongheaded,” said Matheson.

“The new regulations will force many farm businesses to carry out unnecessary investment in fixed equipment, which will do nothing to improve their resilience or their environmental performance.

“Tenant farmers may even struggle to meet the new requirements due to the constraints of their tenancy agreements.

“For many years, TFA Cymru has been highlighting the statutory and contractual restrictions that impact tenant farmers to the Welsh government and provided advice as to how this could be overcome.

However, the announcement contains no details about how the Welsh government expects tenant farmers to comply.

“Tenants that meet opposition from their landlords could end up having to cease farming altogether, despite already operating to extremely high environmental standards. That surely cannot be right,” concluded Matheson.