Industry takes stock of draft Sustainable Farming Scheme (Wales)

This week saw the publication of the first draft of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) which will begin to replace the Basic Payment Scheme in Wales from 2025. The published document sets out the aims of the new scheme with, naturally, a heavy focus on sustainable farming and land management practices and changes to the landscape.
The proposal is for the scheme to be split into Universal Actions, Optional Actions and Collaboratives Actions. Everyone wishing to enter the SFS will have to abide by the Universal Actions, with the other two being optional. Collaborative Actions will involve joint action over larger areas. The new Scheme will be backed by support, advice and training delivered by Farming Connect. Businesses will also be required to benchmark their results annually in a drive to improve business performance.
Perhaps the standout provision among the Universal Actions is the requirement for each farm to have 10% of its area subject to tree cover, with 10% also to be managed to provide semi-natural habitats. More detail will be required to assess the impact, including whether these areas can overlap. There is also sure to be renewed scrutiny of the role of food production and security, in light of recent events.
As yet, there is no indication of the payment levels which farmers can expect in return for meeting the standards. Ultimately, it is this information which will determine the appetite for take-up and, ultimately, the success or otherwise of the Scheme. There will be a further period of co-design and consultation this year and next, before the Scheme is finalised.
You can read the Welsh Government’s document here: