NFU supports Welsh farming members to secure more than 6,000 responses to SFS consultation

Wellies outside the Senedd

More than 6,700 farmers responded to the Welsh Government consultation via the NFU Cymru website, more than doubling the previous highest response received by the union for any such engagement exercise.

Last week NFU Cymru members created a symbolic display of 5,500 pairs of wellies on the steps of the Senedd to represent the jobs forecasted to be lost through Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals.

Projected job losses

The stark visual display was put together by farmers at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday 6 March, the eve of the closing of the Welsh Government’s ‘Keeping Farmers Farming’ Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation.

Each of the 5,500 wellingtons outside the Senedd building represents an agricultural job that is projected to be lost based on 100% take up of the scheme, as based on figures from Welsh Government’s own impact assessment.

United effort

Farmers across the country united to gather 5,500 pairs of wellingtons to bring the display to life.

Boots provided for the display will be donated to charities in Africa.

NFU Cymru member and display organiser Paul Williams said: “Seeing these 5,500 wellies lined up on the steps of the Senedd is an emphatic depiction of the potential jobs that will be lost to Welsh agriculture if these proposals go ahead in their current guise.”

More than just a job

“What makes our industry so special is the people and families for whom it’s more than just a job,” Paul added.

Welsh Government must show that it has listened by undertaking a major overhaul of the scheme to avoid the shocking scenario highlighted by its own modelling.”

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones

“We have wellies of all sizes and colours on display, representing those who have farmed for decades and whose families have farmed our land for generations, as well as those with smaller feet but big ambitions for a future in our industry when they are older.

“The MSs who have looked out on the display today from the Senedd must understand what is at stake and commit to ensuring the final Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals don’t harm Welsh businesses and communities.”

Fellow organiser Llŷr Jones said: “The support we’ve had from the wider Welsh agricultural community to collect these wellies has been incredible.

“We are indebted to the help we’ve received from businesses across the supply chain who have assisted us to make this idea a reality. This project has really captured the unity that exists within our industry, despite the ongoing challenges and uncertainty affecting everyone in rural Wales.

“Welsh farmers are incredibly proud of the role they play for this country. We need Welsh Government to support our ambitions and help this fantastic industry to continue to prosper.”

Warned of the impacts

NFU Cymru has long warned of the impacts of aspects of the proposals contained within the SFS (Sustainable Farming Scheme) scheme outline – not least the 10% tree planting and habitat requirements – on the sector’s productivity and viability.

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “Bringing this impressive project together has been an outstanding achievement by our members.

“What they have achieved is an emotional and impactful reminder of why NFU Cymru has continued to lobby so vigorously for so long against multiple areas of the consultation proposals. We simply cannot see government move forward with a scheme that puts 5,500 Welsh farming jobs in jeopardy, never mind the additional knock-on this will have to further jobs in the food supply chain – the impact of which has not been assessed – and our rural communities.

“Farmers across Wales have made their voices heard in a variety of ways during the Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation period. Welsh Government must show that it has listened by undertaking a major overhaul of the scheme to avoid the shocking scenario highlighted by its own modelling.”

‘Farming families under mounting pressure’

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “I know consecutive years of unsustainably high production costs, huge changes to agriculture policy and farm support, compounded by crop losses because of extreme weather, and animal health strains due to bluetongue and AI, are putting farming families under mounting pressure, both here and in Europe.

“I have huge admiration and support for my colleague and fellow President of NFU Cymru Aled Jones for the way he and his team have worked with Welsh members who are facing a very real and acute threat from the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme in Wales, not least the 10% tree planting and habitat requirements which will impact hugely on the sector’s productivity and viability including 5,500 potential job losses from Welsh agriculture.

“The scheme is different to the Sustainable Farming Incentive in England and, while not perfect, the NFU has secured significant changes to the SFI, including increased payment rates, many more options especially on grassland, ‘unbundling’ SFI options so farmers can now pick and mix which actions they want to do to secure payments and ensuring support for IPM and nutrient management planning.

“However, we still have concerns about the long-term impacts for food production.

“We have also worked incredibly hard to build public trust in British food and farming, and this has been rewarded with demonstrations of invaluable support.

“In 2020, more than million people signed the NFU’s petition to safeguard British food and farming standards which led to greater government scrutiny over trade deals, and in 2023 nearly 50,000 signatures led to the Prime Minister hosting a Food Security Summit.

“The ongoing support of the British public is of paramount importance, and we must not take this support or its influence for granted. It is why disruptive protests should always be a last resort and why we will continue fighting with evidence and well thought through policy solutions to secure outcomes that deliver profitable farm businesses for our members.”

See our manifesto asks

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.