Welsh farmer ‘more confident’ about the future following delay to subsidy scheme

A farmer set to be affected by a new Welsh government subsidy has said he is “happier” and “more confident” about the future following news of a delay.

The Welsh Rural Affairs Secretary Huw Irranca-Davies announced the Welsh government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) – which will provide subsidies to farmers for setting aside more land for environmental schemes – will now come in from 2026, not January next year.

The move is intended to allow the government to work through issues with the scheme, which have led to mass protests from farmers across Wales, with some 3,000 demonstrating outside the Senedd.

Welsh Conservatives Conference 2024
Welsh farmers protested against the subsidy, which means that they are expected to have set aside 10% of their land for trees and 10% for wildlife habitat  (Peter Byrne/PA)

Farming leaders have insisted that the policies will not work on every farm, with many unsuitable for growing trees.

Mr Irranca-Davies made the announcement during a visit to Sealands Farm in Bridgend on Tuesday.

The owner of the farm, Richard Anthony, welcomed the news.

He said: “I do feel happier about the future, I feel more confident that we are going to see changes, and changes for the good.

“There’s so much (that needs to be changed), it’s difficult to pick out one thing.

“The big one that everyone talks about is the 10% tree cover and the 10% habitat.

“Habitat is doable, but the 10% trees is quite difficult, and you see that on so many farms.

“If you look here with us all the woodlands, this is a tenanted farm, and all the woodlands in the area are taken out, they’re not part of our tenancy.”

Currently, the Welsh government is planning a series of “universal actions”, which will apply to all farms to establish whether it is eligible for the subsidy.

But Mr Anthony said: “You can’t have one size fits all.

“If you look at their own scientific report, the way we are now growing the crops, we’re doing far better than what we would do if we were planting trees.

“That’s all got to be brought into it and I think we will see that now.”

He added that he hoped this would be a chance to get across how much farming has moved on in the last 10 years and that it is important there be “flexibility”.

“I think (the Welsh government) are listening now,” he said.

“And that is down to every farmer. Every farmer who got involved and showed they’re not happy about it.

“Now, as farmers, we have got to show that we are delivering, that we are a big part of the solution to climate change, not a part of the problem.”

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