The FUW continues to represent the views of its members through Senedd visits, meetings with politicians and stakeholders. Specifically, we recently met with the opposition spokespersons for agriculture ahead of their first opportunity to question the new Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affair, Huw Irranca-Davies in the Senedd.

Mr Irranca-Davies told one of the media outlets, following the session, that he understood the concerns from the agricultural industry, but scrapping the Sustainable Farmers Scheme (SFS) would be ‘the worst thing to do’.

This came a day after a summit to discuss the challenges of the recent wet weather. Organisations from across the UK food supply chain gathered to discuss the challenges and possible interventions the Welsh Government should consider to support the industry.

Some of the interventions we called for included derogations around scheme requirements; many Growing for the Environment contract holders have been unable to meet the required sowing dates due to the wet conditions. It’s been impossible for other farmers to comply with their Small Grants Environment contracts due to both the weather and prescriptive dates for when certain works could be completed.

We also made clear that greater flexibility was needed to cross compliance rules and farm inspections. There is also an urgent need to provide capital grant support to farmers for slurry infrastructure and yard coverings in line with reducing the burden on those who are attempting to complete works to meet incoming regulatory requirements.

Despite numerous calls made by the FUW to delay the third phase of the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ regulations until the review of the regulations has been completed, this latest edition of wet weather has made it impossible for building contractors to continue with their work. This means that the August deadline for increased slurry storage is looking as challenging as ever.

Above all else, these past few months have demonstrated the need for any future financial support scheme in Wales to underpin the economic viability of our family farms so that they can continue to navigate such unforeseen circumstances in future.

We wholeheartedly welcomed the opportunity to inform the Cabinet Secretary of the issues farmers and landowners face due to the challenging climate. 

As we continue to await any real news on the next steps of the SFS from the Welsh Government, Huw Irranca-Davies has explained that there were ‘knotty issues’ that need to be addressed. 

Time will tell if the ‘knots’ can be successfully untangled from the plethora of issues highlighted to the Rural Affairs team down in Cardiff Bay. We have committed to working with them to ensure the scheme is reworked to the extent it requires, but the correct platform for these discussions must be provided for meaningful change to happen.