Farmers 'fearful' of Welsh government's 10% tree cover target

Farmers will have to be abide by the Welsh government's target to receive future payments
Farmers will have to be abide by the Welsh government's target to receive future payments

Welsh farmers are said to be 'deeply concerned' and 'fearful' of the Welsh government's 10% mandatory tree planting element of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

NFU Cymru previously responded to the recent SFS statement with ‘extreme concern’ as the Welsh government ‘doubled down’ on its 10% tree cover targets.

Farmers will have to be abide by the controversial target to receive future support payments, which will replace the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Glastir from 2025.

However, there are fears the policy would mean tree planting pressure on productive farmland at a time when food security has never been more important.

In a new meeting with Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, NFU Cymru highlighted that many in the industry were very concerned with the proposal.

The union's president, Aled Jones said: "Welsh government appears more committed than ever to its 10% tree cover target on areas it deems suitable for tree planting under the universal tier of the proposed scheme.

“I’ve spoken to a good many members over the last few days and they are very concerned at what they heard in the statement.

"Farmers are understandably fearful of the fact that this will mean an even greater pressure for tree planting on the remaining land in order to reach the 10% target.

“Whilst most farms will have areas which are suitable for tree planting, I don’t know of any farmers who will choose to reduce the productive capacity of their farm by relinquishing their productive land for tree planting."

The concerns are coupled with the fact that many farmers will not know what the payment rates will be for the SFS until next year, he said.

Mr Jones added: “I have conveyed the industry’s deep concerns to the Minister that the 10% target, coupled with uncertainty about payment rates, has not landed well with NFU Cymru’s membership.

"It is clear to me that Welsh government must look again at its 10% tree cover target.”