Proposals from Wales’ environmental regulator are unacceptable against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis say the leaders of Wales’ farming community, the CLA, NFU Cymru and FUW. The Welsh Government’s agency Natural Resources Wales (NRW) plans to dramatically increase the cost of licences to carry out necessary and unavoidable operations on Welsh farms. For example, sheep-dip land-spreading costs are to leap up to 20 times the current cost for a new application.
The three organisations call on NRW to revisit the proposals in the context of unprecedented uncertainty in Welsh agriculture.
NRW’s 12 week consultation is seeking views on its new charging proposals for permits under NRW’s responsibilities for industry regulation, waste management, water quality and resources and reservoir compliance.
The fees cover the cost of licences to dispose of disease-preventing sheep-dip, abstraction of water, the handling of unavoidable by-products, and compliances. Farmers have few options about managing these, there’s little flexibility in the regulatory agency’s approach and no process for appeal.
The three bodies who represent Wales’ farmers and rural businesses will be scrutinising NRW’s impact assessments and arguing that where dramatic changes are to be introduced, they need to be graduated and greater flexibility introduced for new entrants. Support is needed for businesses struggling with input-cost inflation.
NRW’s charges are obligatory costs which have to be met by farmers to continue to produce our food. One way or another the cost must be absorbed in the supply chain affecting competitiveness and opening the door to low-cost imports.
The farming community understand that costs need to reflect inflation. However, it is highly irresponsible for an agency of the Welsh Government to put businesses at risk without properly considering cost savings and efficiencies in their processes to reduce costs.
The CLA, NFU Cymru and FUW are clear that farmers have already been hit by high costs of fuel, fertiliser and feed. As the cost-of-living crisis continues NRW need to urgently reconsider the proposals put forward that only add further costs to food production in Wales.