Finding the perfect balance between producing healthy, sustainable food and caring for the environment has been a conversation point in NFU Cymru county meetings for many years, writes Stella Owen
The assurance that Glastir was ‘the future, the future, the future’ remains firm in my mind from a Glamorgan County Conference, where the then Minister Alun Davies MS spoke to the packed room. Many of those farmers present that evening would try to get into the scheme and fail to get the points, some would later be successful – and some left it well alone.
Many years on, we await the Glastir outcome for 2024. Farmers in the scheme, in some cases carrying out environmental commitments for decades, could see the scheme end without a successor in place.. As stocking densities or stock free periods have seen commons associations working hard together, for our commons throughout Wales, the Tir Mynydd successor scheme has evolved over the last decade and hangs in balance of budget pressures.
The situation now however, as we await the details of the new Sustainable Farming Scheme, is somewhat based on the same balancing act. The industry walking a tightrope of what exactly is expected of farmers – producing food in an environmentally sensitive way is the order of the day. But taking land out of production to accommodate 10% woodland cover is undoubtedly the bed of nails. The juggling act will begin on whether a hedgerow counts towards tree cover or habitat. Those who have had the conversation with me over the last couple of years will know my views on the environmental benefit of hedgerows, or shall we say linear woodlands, and that our wonderful field boundaries should be afforded far more respect.
No doubt the conversations will continue over the Royal Welsh Show and we look forward to welcoming members to the NFU Cymru stand over the course of the week. As colleagues from all corners of Wales come together, so do our members and a warm welcome is extended to you all for a catch up, a rest or a place to meet back after your families and friend have gone off in different directions! For the NFU Cymru team it will be a packed week of policy, media and flying that flag for our fantastic farming industry in Wales. We look forward to seeing you all.
All in all, the debates become ever harder. As phosphate debates continue, NFU Cymru Brecon & Radnor officeholders met with the Powys County Council Leader, to explain once again the dilemma of planning applications being delayed but at the same time farmers being encouraged to cover yards in order to comply with the Control of Agricultural Pollution regulation. There really does need to be a fast-track method to get through quicker in order to prevent regulation fighting regulation.