NFU Cymru met with Wales’ new First Minister, Vaughan Gething MS, and the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, less than a week after they were both appointed to their new roles.

The meeting, arranged following a request made by NFU Cymru, was an early opportunity to set out the union’s key asks to the new First Minister and Cabinet Secretary. 

NFU Cymru Deputy President Abi Reader and I were pleased that the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary prioritised meeting with us at their earliest convenience. This was a welcome opportunity to discuss the ambitions, as well as the concerns, of an industry currently under a huge amount of pressure.

During the meeting, we presented the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary with our comprehensive Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation response and raised a number of our key policy asks. These included concerns around the current SFS proposals, as well as other issues affecting the sector. We highlighted how the coming together of these factors - and the emotional and financial stresses which accompany them - has contributed to a sense of anxiety and turmoil in our rural communities. 

The meeting was constructive, and we now look to the new First Minister and Cabinet Secretary to consider our asks. At such a pivotal time in the design of the SFS we have asked the Cabinet Secretary to commit to leading a series of meetings with ourselves to ensure we can get a scheme that delivers for Welsh farming and Welsh Government. 

Farmers need stability, now more than ever. They need stability to invest in their businesses, to invest in efficiency gains and in the environment. This is why we are once again urging Welsh Government to ensure that there is a strong stability element in the final SFS and that the universal actions are truly practical and achievable for all farm types, sectors and locations.

We believe it is only through constructive and honest dialogue that we can work our way through some of the difficulties we face, to arrive at solutions which work for farmers, Welsh Government and the public. By working together, we are confident that we can deliver for the future of our rural communities and maintain and uphold our high standards of food production.