The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed positive feedback from Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford over a number of issues raised with him during a meeting at the Royal Welsh Show.

Speaking after the meeting yesterday (Monday), FUW President Ian Rickman said: A diverse range of issues of concern to the industry were raised with the First Minister.

“Not surprisingly given what is the focus of talk on the showground today, the issue of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) and the 10 per cent tree planting target were discussed at some length.”

Mr Rickman highlighted to the First Minister that while the FUW welcomed the progress made in terms of developing the SFS, if the finalised rules act as a barrier then the scheme will have failed.

“At the moment the proposed rule that would require 10 per cent of every farm to be tree cover in order for them to enter the new scheme is one of the most significant obstacles, and we have highlighted this since the proposals were launched twelve months ago,” said Mr Rickman.

The FUW Presoident said he therefore welcomed the First Minister’s assurances that the rules were still being developed including in terms of ensuring barriers were removed to maximise the number who could enter the scheme.

Mr Rickman said: “We also highlighted our longstanding view that while trees had a role to play in terms of helping to mitigate climate change, they were not a silver bullet, and that on-farm renewable energy should play a part in the new SFS scheme”, said Mr Rickman, who emphasised that renewable energy projects should not undermine agricultural land or food production.

“Mr Drakeford clearly recognised the importance of on-farm renewable energy production in terms of increasing farm sustainability and Welsh energy security while also reducing carbon emissions, and we sincerely hope that it can be included as part of the scheme.”