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NFFN Cymru Consultation Response: Economic and cultural impacts of trade and environmental policy on family farms in Wales

What is the consultation?

The UK Parliament Welsh Affairs Committee conducted a short inquiry to explore the impact of major policy changes (particularly, but not exclusively, international trade and climate change) on family farms in Wales. 

Why should nature-friendly farming be concerned?

Government environmental policies can offer huge benefits to Welsh family farm businesses, rural economies and communities. However poorly conceived and/or implemented policies could potentially threaten rural communities, the Welsh language, the wider rural economy and could in fact lead to perverse outcomes for nature and climate.

International trade policies could reduce environmental standards and the economic position of Welsh farmers by expose us to the sort of low standards, and cut-price competition that will drive farmers towards more harmful ways of farming for both land and livestock. 

 It is therefore vital that we ensure that policies are thoroughly scrutinised. 

What are the NFFN’s key recommendations?

  • Some of the biggest challenges facing Welsh family farm businesses include nature loss, climate change, poor market return and dependency on farming subsidies leading to negative socio-economic trends, the rewilding agenda and uncertainty over future domestic agricultural support payment. 
  • Trees play a vital role in addressing the nature and climate crises, can improve farm profitability and productivity and support rural economies. However, planting the wrong tree in the wrong place can lead to perverse outcomes for climate, nature and rural communities. As such we must plant the right tree in the right place. 
  • We are very concerned about the rise in large-scale corporations buying Welsh farms to plant trees to offset their own carbon emissions, threatening local biodiversity, culture, language, and heritage. 
  • Environmental policy must give nature restoration the same attention and urgency as climate change. 
  • Facilitating agroecological farming practices (achieving Maximum Sustainable Output) and redirecting adequate farming payments towards rewarding environmental enhancement increases income stability and raises farm income for Welsh family farm businesses. 
  • We need a transformative food system that ensures farmers earn a fair return whilst ensuring food is healthy, affordable and sustainably produced.

What’s next?

Future agricultural, climate change and trade policies are a likely to have a significant bearing on Welsh agriculture and family farm businesses. Policies that are carefully designed, well implemented and adequately funded can play a vital role in supporting a resilient, profitable, and sustainable Welsh food and farming sector, and rural communities. However, if not designed, implemented and funded properly then future government policies could undermine Welsh agriculture, and in doing so erode our environment, rural communities, economies and way of life. We urge the UK and Welsh Government to engage with NFFN farmers to help develop future policies that work for farming, rural communities, nature and climate. 

Read our consultation response here