Welsh government delivers on Plaid Cymru's agriculture demands

Plaid Cymru has welcomed the “pragmatic and sensible approach” of the new Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs as a delay to the introduction of the Sustainable Farming Scheme was announced today.

Plaid’s Rural Affairs spokesperson, Llyr Gruffydd MS, has been calling on the Government to delay the scheme’s introduction for a year, arguing that the priority should be to get the scheme right rather than hastily rush it through.

Other changes demanded by Plaid Cymru that have been accepted include:

  1. a greater recognition of the social value of farming, including a financial recognition going beyond the costs incurred and income forgone model
  2. a stronger focus on food production
  3. greater engagement with the sector as the detail of specific changes are develop.

The Cabinet Secretary had already agreed to a more flexible approach to carbon sequestration, rather than sticking to the arbitrary 10% tree cover requirement. This followed strong opposition to the proposal from Plaid Cymru, the farming unions and others.

Responding to the news, Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesperson Llyr Gruffydd MS, said:

“I’m glad that through Plaid Cymru’s co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government we have secured more time to get the Sustainable Farming Scheme right.

“I’ve long argued that rushing headlong into a scheme that will impact generations of farming is both irresponsible and foolish. We now have an opportunity to take a step back and make the necessary changes that will ensure both buy-in from the industry and a more sustainable scheme for farming and for nature.

“I’ve been consistent from day one that achieving all the changes set out by the Government in the time scale provided was unrealistic, especially with the need to listen and respond to the concerns of farmers. The delay of a year is much needed and will be of relief to many.

“We’ve always said that the one-size-fits-all figure of 10% tree cover will not work for many farm types and farm locations. There is now a recognition that this needs flexibility and that other ways of capturing carbon must be considered. I urge the Government to ensure that the Roundtable which will consider alternative approaches includes those with farming experience. They are the ones who know best what will work on the ground.

“I’m also pleased that the government has recognised the social value of farming to Wales, having listened to Plaid Cymru’s many calls on this. Farming is the glue that binds our rural communities together and is critical for the social and cultural wellbeing of rural Wales. A financial recognition of this within the scheme, going beyond the income forgone and costs incurred model, could provide an additional incentive to be part of the SFS.

“I also welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s stronger emphasis on engagement with farmers and on the importance of food production.

“I’m pleased that today we’ve seen the Cabinet Secretary take a pragmatic and sensible approach to the Sustainable Farming Scheme, and that many of Plaid Cymru’s calls have not just been listened to but have been delivered.”