The Welsh Government’s proposed new water regulations will limit the amount of cash available to farmers who work to improve water quality post-Brexit, NFU Cymru has warned.
The union has criticised Ministers for failing to ‘integrate and join-up’ thinking on the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which will replace direct payments, and the water rules.
Welsh Government proposes to introduce the new water rules, which will prevent farmers spreading nitrogen and organic fertilisers on certain dates and require capacity for five months’ storage of manures and slurries, across Wales on January 1 2020.
John Davies, NFU Cymru president, said: “The new rules put into the sphere of regulation many nutrient management actions which Welsh Government proposes to support through its Sustainable Farming Scheme.
“Welsh Government will only fund actions above the regulatory baseline and establishing a baseline which is so high will severely limit the actions farmers can be rewarded for as part of a future scheme.
“The lack of integration and join-up between these two work streams is extremely concerning.”
NFU Cymru has also hit out at the bureaucratic nature of the new water rules, which will involve more paperwork and record-keeping, branding them ‘costly and complex’.
Jeff Evans, Pembrokeshire county president at the union, said: “We are in no doubt that Welsh Government’s approach will threaten farm business viability, increase bureaucracy and complexity and reduce farmers’ ability to make good management decisions relating to resource management based on their knowledge of their own farm and prevailing weather and ground conditions.
“All for, at best, marginal benefit as the effectiveness of the NVZ Action Programme in reducing levels of nitrates from agriculture in pre-existing NVZs is far from proven.
“We are clear the costs associated with the proposed new regulation are disproportionate and vastly outweigh any benefits to water quality.”