Welsh farmers call for government to commit to strong environment and agriculture policies

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) Cymru today launches its manifesto for the next Welsh Senedd and Government. In the run up to the election on 6th May, farmers across Wales are calling on politicians to commit to strong environment and agriculture policies to support a thriving farming industry and boost a Green Recovery post Covid-19.

The farmer-led organisation lays out seven key asks of the next Government, to help farmers tackle the climate and ecological crises, support communities and economies, produce plentiful healthy sustainable good and improve public health.

Hillary Kehoe, NFFN Cymru Chair, commented:The survival of all farming businesses depends on a thriving environment. Our manifesto sets out the urgent tasks ahead that would ensure the long-term profitability of the farming sector while supporting the government to reach climate, biodiversity and net-zero targets. With the right policies and support in place, farmers are uniquely positioned to accelerate positive change at scale. The next Welsh Government can and must strive for a more nature-friendly, profitable farming industry.”

To effectively make the transition to a fair and balanced food and farming system, and deliver a Green Recovery after the pandemic, NFFN Cymru is urging all political parties to:

1. Maintain and redirect payments towards mainstreaming nature-friendly farming. Implement the ‘public money for public goods’ model so that farmers can deliver broader benefits to the public, including flood protection, water quality, and access to landscapes.

2. Commit to zero carbon agriculture by 2040. Invest in training and advice for farmers so they can make changes to reduce carbon emissions and store carbon on their farm.

3. Maintain strong environmental and animal welfare standards. Introduce strong environmental baseline regulations and put pressure on the UK Government to commit to high food, environmental and animal welfare standards as part of future trade deals.

4. Build markets for nature-friendly farming products. Provide a business environment that enables farmers to secure a fair return for their produce.

5. Invest in local food systems. Develop infrastructure which facilitates buying local and transparency in shorter food supply chains.

6. Educate on food, farming and nature.Implement teaching on food and farming into all levels of education and farmers to receive training on nature and climate friendly farming.

7. Provide a long-term vision for Welsh farming. Set out a clear roadmap for the next 10 years of farming policy in Wales, with clear targets and ambitions outlined.

Research, commissioned by the NFFN, reveals widespread support from the public for the government to deliver policies that reward nature-friendly farming:

  • Almost eight in ten (79%) of the Welsh public think that it is important that food and environmental standards are put into law, to protect long-term food security.
  • More than three quarters (77%) of people in Wales think that public money should be used to help Welsh farmers produce healthy soils, food, landscapes, rivers, and help wildlife to recover and flourish.
  • More than three quarters (76%) want their local politician to support farmers who farm with nature.

The farmer-led organisation works with hundreds of farmers across Wales who report on the benefits of nature-friendly farming – from increased yields and biodiversity, to carbon sequestration and improved soil health. Hywel Morgan, a livestock farmer in Carmarthenshire, adopted a nature-friendly farming approach in 2010 by committing to reduce farm inputs, restoring hay meadows and creating new wildlife habitats such hedgerows, woodlands and ponds.

Hywel Morgan, livestock farmer, Carmarthenshire, Wales, commented: “Nature-friendly farming is good for my business, the local community and nature. Our thriving and healthy farm landscape no longer requires the use of expensive inputs, such as animal medicines and fertilisers. As a result, the business has become more financially viable and resilient to future challenges such as extreme weather events.

“I will be asking my local politician to prioritise policies that reward farmers for working with nature, not against it and I would like to encourage farmers across Wales to do the same. Ultimately, this will deliver profitable farm businesses, resilient communities and a landscape bursting with nature.”

The NFFN Cymru welcomes the opportunity to work closely with politicians and government to draft policy and develop initiatives to help mainstream nature-friendly farming.

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