Caerphilly farmer discusses #FarmingMatters with local AM

Caerphilly farmer David Perkins, who farms at Duffryn Isaf Farm, Lanbradach, welcomed local Assembly Member Hefin David to his farm to discuss the most critical #FarmingMatters.

The farm extends to around 100 acres and carries a flock 220 breeding ewes plus 15 suckler cows. It has been in the family for 3 generations with David’s grandfather having bought the farm in 1945.

During the visit to the typical Valleys family farm, FUW officials explained how the proposed future farming support system, as laid out in the Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation, would impact upon the viability of farms like Duffryn Isaf.

The consultation proposes that future support should be designed around the principle of sustainability in a way which brings together the ‘wide-ranging and significant economic, environmental and social contribution or farmers’, through a single Sustainable Farming Scheme based on the principles of providing a meaningful and stable income stream; rewarding outcomes in a fair way; paying for both new and existing sustainable practices; and flexibility allowing every type of farm to apply.

FUW Gwent CEO Glyn Davies said: “We took the opportunity to highlight that farms such as Duffryn Isaf are likely to be severely affected by the removal of the basic payment scheme, and its replacement by environmental schemes. What is proposed is the replacement of direct support for farmers with what is, in essence, a public goods scheme. 

“The fact that our competitors in the EU will, under current CAP proposals, continue to receive direct support, while Welsh farmers would not, is just one concern of many. Add to that, that under the proposals Welsh farmers would be asked to do more and be faced with greater restrictions in return for less money, but still be expected to compete on the same markets, our farmers have every right to be concerned about the future.

“This concern also relates to competition with farmers in Scotland or Northern Ireland if those countries retain some form of direct support or different standards that give them a competitive advantage.”

David Perkins pointed out that because Duffryn Isaf is split in half by a major trunk road it would be unsuitable for many of the environmental proposals in the current Sustainable farming and our Land Consultation, and as a consequence greatly reduce the amount of support available to the farm. 

He said: “As farmers we want to do all we can to help the environment and produce sustainable, healthy food. But what is proposed here for the future is simply not workable for us.”

The timing of the consultation was another important issue, particularly with the uncertainty generated by Brexit.

“This consultation is really important. It will form a huge part in deciding the sort of future support we will get as an industry. But how can we be expected to give it full attention when Brexit hangs over our heads. Welsh Government really should be listening to those who have told them from the start to delay the consultation. It really worries me,” added David Perkins.

Addressing the new NVZ-style regulations which come into force in January, Union officials further explained that every farm in Wales will need to keep field records of nitrate use, even if none are used, and that it was unfair to burden every farm with new draconian rules. 

FUW Policy Officer Ceri Davies told the AM that members across the country are concerned about the new agricultural pollution regulations due to be introduced in January 2020.

“There is a fear across the farming community that unless the introduction of pan-Wales land management regulations are opposed, the impact on farm businesses, like Duffryn Isaf, would be significant.

“We support the work that has already been done by NRW and the Wales Land Management Forum sub-group, which identified targeted and proportionate approaches to solve problems and it is sad the work which has already been has so far been ignored. 

“A joined-up approach, working with the industry, would be a sensible way forward and I hope Welsh Government will take that on board,” said Ceri Davies.