Jeremy Clarkson calls Welsh Government farming proposals ‘completely daft’

Celebrity and farmer Jeremy Clarkson criticised farming policies proposed by the Welsh Government, calling the plans ‘completely daft’.

Jeremy Clarkson calls Welsh Government farming proposals 'completely daft'

The Clarkson’s Farm star commented on plans for the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), which are set to take effect in 2025, replacing European Union payments that had been worth over £300 million a year to Welsh farms.

Mr Clarkson posted on his social media: “I’m trying to see the Welsh farming policy from the government’s point of view. And I just can’t. It’s completely daft.”

The Welsh Government says the Sustainable Farming Scheme aims to “keep farmers farming” and “safeguard the environment”.  

The final consultation on the scheme is still open. Farmers are encouraged to reply with their views by 7th March.  

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “No final decision will be taken on the scheme until after the consultation has taken place, and we will listen carefully to all views.”  

READ MORE: Everything we know about farming schemes in 2024  

Unequal access 

Welsh farmers said that the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme does not provide equal access for farmers who do not own the land that they farm.

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones previously said that Welsh government proposals go “some way” to enabling tenant farmers to access the scheme. However, it is important to recognise that this is not equal access, and tenant farmers remain disadvantaged by the latest Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals.

He added: “Tenant farmers may not have to meet the 10% tree cover requirement but critically, nor will they be able to access the associated component of the Universal Baseline Payment.

“In trying to address one issue, the inability of many tenant farmers to meet the 10% requirement due to the nature of their tenancy agreement, the Welsh Government has now created another issue in that the Universal Baseline Payment tenant farmers receive, will be lower than it would be if they owned a similar hectarage of land. It is simply unacceptable to disadvantage the tenanted sector in this way.”

Illogical plans

NFU Cymru’s Rural Affairs Board has recently branded Welsh Government’s plans to omit designated sites, such as SSSIs, from the Sustainable Farming Scheme Universal Baseline Payment as “illogical”.

At their board meeting, Welsh Government’s ‘Sustainable Farming Scheme – Keeping Farmers Farming’ consultation was considered. This sets out how the Basic Payment Scheme is to be fully phased out by 2029 and replaced by the Sustainable Farming Scheme from 2025, with farmers who wish to participate receiving a Universal Baseline Payment in return for delivering 17 Universal Actions and two scheme rules.

Under Welsh Government’s proposals, farmland designated as SSSI will be excluded from the habitat maintenance element of the Universal Baseline Payment. Welsh Government say that support for these sites will be prioritised for inclusion in the Scheme’s Optional Action Layer, but this will be subject to the development of a Management Plan with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Optional Action Layer of the scheme is to be introduced later and subject to further engagement and budget availability.

Last Monday, 12th February, 20 tractors and 15 pick-up trucks parked outside rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths’ in Wrexham in protest against the Sustainable Farming Scheme. They continued their protest on Friday, 16th February, with 80 tractors slowly driving on one of the main routes in west Wales.

Urgent meeting

At the beginning of February, Welsh Government Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS, invited the presidents of the two farming unions to an urgent meeting to hear their views and discuss the serious concerns of Welsh farmers and rural businesses.

NFU Cymru president said he welcomes the fact that the Minister recognises the serious concerns of farmers and as such has agreed to meet and look at ways to address these issues.

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones.

Mr Jones added: “Having travelled the length and breadth of Wales in the past week and met with thousands of members, it is clear that the current Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation and the proposals laid out in it are causing a deep sense of anguish and concern as members contemplate the future scheme and the implications on their own individual business.

“The Minister has assured me this remains a genuine consultation and so I would urge anyone with an interest in Welsh farming to respond and let the Government know directly the strength of feeling that exists amongst our farming community. The information, briefings and response template are all available on the NFU Cymru website.

“The current consultation which proposes that the Basic Payment Scheme will be fully phased out in 2029 with no long-term stability payment in its place within the SFS is set against the backdrop of a challenging time for Welsh farmers. Agricultural inputs are over a third higher than pre-covid times, water quality regulations have added a huge regulatory and cost burden on farming businesses and bovine TB continues to cause heartache to farming families.”

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