Unrealistic, unbudgeted, bureaucratic SFS fails to serve future generations, says CLA

We report on the first of three CLA Cymru Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation events taking place this week.
SFS event Bot Garden, Carms.

“The proposed SFS (Sustainable Farming Scheme) is rigid and complex. The Welsh Government must take action to build confidence and generate greater uptake,” says Fraser McAuley, Senior Policy Adviser, CLA Cymru. His words come after the first well-supported and lively CLA Cymru Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) event at the Wales Botanical Gardens, Carmarthenshire, yesterday.

“Pushing some of the universal actions into the optional layer – with appropriate recognition in support would begin to enable many farmers to subscribe to a scheme which they currently believe is not possible on their holding.”

“The Welsh Government must build trust in the farming community that the fundamental governing principles of health, prosperity and sustainability for farming and the rural economy are driving forces in the proposed scheme.”

“The requirement to lay down 10 per cent of farms to woodland need re-thinking: trees aren’t suitable for some topography, including uplands and coastal areas. And some of the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme universal actions must be reviewed and re-shaped to begin to make a workable scheme.”

The meeting heard, “Farmers shouldn’t be driven indoors by more nit-picking bureaucracy.” Fraser continues, “The proposed requirements for digital data recording are excessive and unnecessary. Many farmers believe it will take a long time before the Welsh Government itself is competent with the proposed system. Other farmers stressed that all businesses are entitled to their commercial confidentiality and those farms already using well-established platforms should not need to duplicate.”

The event saw over 50 farmers and land managers in intense debate not only about technical requirements and further regulation, but also intensely concerned about levels of funding and long-term commitment. Fraser says, “Farmers are being forced to take-on unacceptable burdens for less support.”

CLA Cymru is running two more similar events in Mid – and North Wales this week. Fraser concludes, “The feedback we receive from farmers on the ground will strengthen our message to the Welsh Government when the SFS Consultation ends next month.”

Key contact:

Fraser McAuley
Fraser McAuley Senior Policy Adviser, CLA Cymru