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NFFN Cymru Consultation Response: Welsh Government's Net Zero Wales Plan

What is the consultation?

In response to the Welsh Government’s Net Zero Plan, the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee issued a short consultation to gather stakeholder views on its content.  

Why should nature-friendly farming be concerned?

Whilst there are countless examples of sustainable, nature-friendly farms in Wales, we must acknowledge that agricultural pollution is an issue that needs to be addressed. Agriculture pollution affects the environment, society and our economy. As an industry, we can’t put our heads in the sand when it comes to this issue. However, nature-friendly farming particularly farming within the natural productive carrying capacity of the land is key to addressing agricultural pollution. 

What are the NFFN’s key recommendations?

We welcome many of the commitments and ambitions that are relevant to the food and farming system;

  • Promoting widespread uptake of low input agroecological farming practices 
  • Investigating the merits of a transitional scheme to provide financial support to farmers who are converting their operations to organic farming. 
  • Supporting for new and existing agroecological horticulture businesses
  • Adopting a land sharing approach to food production 
  • Creating a Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) centred on rewarding the delivery of environmental outcomes 
  • Commitments to improve resource efficiency and increase circularity on farms

However, we believe the following merits further scrutiny from the Committee; 

  • What procedures does the Welsh Government have in place to ensure we plant the right tree in the right place? 
  • What practical steps are the Welsh Government going to take to ensure supply chains are stronger and more localised, whilst value will be more fairly distributed? 
  • Bearing in mind the SFS won’t be launched until 2025, is the pace and scale of action sufficient? 
  • We urge the Welsh Government to roll out a trial programme aimed at promoting the concept of maximum sustainable output (MSO) amongst farmers, which is proven to improve farm profitability and enhance nature and climate. 
  • Could WG’s peatland restoration targets be more ambitious? Bearing in mind that degraded UK peatlands emit more carbon than what even the most ambitious UK Climate Change Committee tree planting targets could capture and store.
  • What procedures does the Welsh Government have in place to ensure to safeguard rural communities, bearing in mind the rise in large-scale corporations buying farms across the country to plant trees to offset their own carbon emissions? 
  • What steps are the Welsh Government taking to enhance the poultry sector’s sustainability credentials, bearing in mind the sector’s negative effect on air and water quality, and its dependency on imported feed linked to global deforestation?
  • We would welcome further scrutiny into how selling carbon credits may impact ambition for net zero commitment from individual Welsh farm businesses, bearing in mind that sold carbon credits are no longer owned by farm businesses and thus cannot be used to offset their own emissions. Should farm business, therefore, be carbon negative prior to selling carbon credits?

What’s next?

It’s vital that we as farmers work with the Welsh Government to shape policies, regulation and schemes that help Wales’ agricultural sector meet the twin nature and climate crises. Demonstrating by doing is a great way of achieving this, therefore we will ramp up our political advocacy to ensure nature-friendly farming is a the heart of tackling climate change.

Read our consultation response here