Last week we enjoyed a successful Royal Welsh Show and celebrated everything that is great and good about our industry, writes FUW Montgomeryshire chairman Iwan Pugh-Jones.

We held a diverse selection of seminars for our members and engaged with politicians from across the spectrum, lobbying on issues that ensure the survival of our family farms.

There was a topic that we couldn’t get away from during the week and actually it was not a new issue but a point we have discussed and lobbied the Welsh Government on for well over a year - the proposed inclusion of a 10% tree canopy target for all farms as part of the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

This is a major barrier for many farmers, and our response to the original July 2022 proposals and subsequent lobbying and regular meetings with the Welsh Government has led to significant changes announced a couple of weeks ago that will help thousands of farmers. Sadly, this news was lost amongst the media messaging around the issue.


However, further concessions are needed if we are to ensure that this and other barriers are removed from the scheme, and we were therefore pleased to receive assurances directly from First Minister Mark Drakeford that our concerns would continue to be listened to and that the proposals would be further developed to address barriers, including in relation to trees.

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In order to do this, we must continue to engage with and lobby the Welsh Government, just as we have done since the first proposals were issued in 2018 - proposals that have been improved beyond recognition thanks to our efforts. Whatever the rumours, no organisation is boycotting the scheme or negotiations, and FUW will continue to work hard to secure changes that will maximise the number of farmers that can access the scheme.

Without these further changes and improvements we will see adverse effects not only for farmers but also those second and third sector businesses which rely on the agricultural industry.

As we've said many times, the Royal Welsh Show gives us a tiny glimpse of how important agriculture really is, with every section of the agricultural supply chain on display, from the machinery dealer to the farmer to the food producer and supermarket - industries that along with others collectively employ hundreds of thousands of people and feed millions.