Just 3% of farmers say they trust Welsh government, new poll finds

The poll's findings come as tensions continue to rise between the Welsh government and rural communities
The poll's findings come as tensions continue to rise between the Welsh government and rural communities

Just 3 percent of farmers say they trust the Welsh government as tensions continue to rise between Cardiff and rural areas over future funding schemes.

The 'damning evidence' is included in a new poll commissioned by the Country Land and Business Association in Wales (CLA Cymru).

It comes as Welsh farmers are increasingly concerned over the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), which will replace direct farm payments.

Now with the power to determine its own agriculture policy, the Welsh government has been developing the funding scheme to pay farmers for delivering environmental improvements.

The CLA's poll, released on Friday (16 February), found that 87% of farmers believed that SFS would neither support their business nor deliver positive environmental outcomes.

And just 6% said they would opt into the schemes in their current form, which many consider to be unnecessarily prescriptive and complex.

CLA Cymru director Victoria Bond said the poll's findings were 'damning evidence' which should lead the new First Minister to ‘hit the reset button’.

"It only proves what we already know – rural communities feel ignored and let down by the Welsh government," she said.

“As farmers, we work tirelessly to produce high quality food, and we are on the front line in the fight against climate change and nature decline.

"It is perfectly reasonable to expect the government to work with us constructively in the national interest.”

While similar schemes have already been rolled out in England, slowly securing the support of farmers there, the SFS is only at formal consultation stage.

Ms Bond pointed to schemes in England, which she said had been improved by constant collaboration between Defra and rural organisations.

She added: “We know that schemes to support environmentally friendly land management practices can work when developed in a spirit of mutual respect.”

It comes after Welsh farmers protested outside the office of the Rural Affairs Minister earlier this week as anger brews over the future direction of the industry.

Dozens of tractors and other farm vehicles drove up to the constituency office of Lesley Griffiths in Wrexham, North Wales on Monday (12 February).

This followed a meeting of over 3,000 farmers at Carmarthen market where the Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals were discussed, with many believing the industry will be hit hard.