The National Sheep Association (NSA) said it’s deeply concerned following the release of findings from a Welsh Government impact assessment into the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) affecting Wales’s agricultural sector.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “NSA is alarmed by results from the Welsh Government’s own impact assessment that paints a bleak picture for Welsh Agriculture as a whole.
“It is incredibly damaging for an industry already under immense strain to have proposals that now seem flimsy and lacking in genuine support for a critical infrastructure sector and could threaten the future of the sector in Wales.”
The modelling, undertaken on the 2022 SFS proposals as part of the impact assessment indicates the scheme would result in a 122,200 reduction in Welsh livestock units and an 11% reduction across the national flock, resulting in an 11% cut in labour on Welsh farms – the equivalent of losing a staggering 5,500 jobs based on current employment levels on Welsh farms.
Mr Stocker continued: “The magnitude of the reductions, with or without a top-up payment highlights the significant difficulties for businesses to find alternative income sources. With 12 months until the SFS introduction it feels Welsh Government is wandering blindly towards a disaster for the industry.
“Furthermore, any adjustment or diversification will be limited by policy constraints. There must be action now to ensure there is meaningful capacity to maintain livelihoods of those working in agriculture.”
NSA Cymru/Wales development officer Helen Roberts added: “The agricultural sector is operating on a knife edge with increasing pressures on the bottom line. And so it is concerning that Welsh Government is only giving businesses 12 months to consider the implications of entering the SFS, with little pilot process planned or dynamic implementation process.
“Modelling suggests a £125.3 million hit to output from the sector, and a loss of £199 million to farm business income. NSA is concerned that if Welsh Government doesn’t take action it will result in devasting effects not only on farming businesses but those that rely on them.”