Industry responds to delay of controversial Welsh Sustainable Farming Scheme

The Welsh Government has just announced a new timeline for the Sustainable Farming Scheme. The introduction of the controversial scheme has been delayed.

The Welsh Government has just announced a new timeline for the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS). Its introduction will be delayed until 2026.
NFU Cymru president Aled Jones welcomed the announcement.

In a written statement made on Tuesday 14th May, the cabinet secretary for climate change and rural affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, confirmed that the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) transition will now start in 2026.  

Confirmation was also given that the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be available in 2025. 

Existing rural investment schemes, such as the small grant schemes, will continue to support infrastructure changes. 

Meaningful engagement with farming sector

Speaking at a press conference at Sealands Farm in Bridgend, the cabinet secretary said that the change of timing was part of his “commitment to meaningful engagement with the farming sector”. 

Huw Irranca-Davies MS

He said: “Since the first day of taking up this role, I have been out and about meeting and listening to our farmers, hearing their views and taking on board what they have to say. 

“My commitment to meaningful engagement with the farming sector, Plaid Cymru colleagues under the Cooperation Agreement and other stakeholders on the changes needed will necessitate a change in the implementation timetable. 

“We have always said the scheme would not be introduced until it is ready, and I stand by that.” 

Huw Irranca-Davies MS added that the government is listening to the farming community and will “continue to listen”. 

“Together we can create a future where our farmers produce the very best of Welsh food to the highest standards, while safeguarding our precious environment. 

“We must continue to work in partnership to finalise a scheme that works long-term. This is the next step in making that happen.” 

Commitment to take time

NFU Cymru has applauded the “sensible and pragmatic approach” taken by the cabinet secretary. 

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones

The union welcomed his commitment to “meaningful engagement” and underlined the importance of the government working in partnership with the farming industry to ensure the scheme can deliver a successful future for Welsh farming.  

Welcoming the announcement, 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.” 

Redoubling efforts 

Mr Jones added that the decision to continue with the BPS for 2025 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 added: “With the opportunity the cabinet secretary has provided through his announcement, 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. 

“We must use the time we have to redouble our efforts to get this scheme right for all farm types, sectors and regions of Wales, for tenants and for common land.  

“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.” 

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