THE FARMERS’ UNION OF WALES (FUW) has warned of the dangers of ignoring rural communities and economics in its response to a National Trust document setting out principles for the future of farming.
Last week, National Trust Director, Dame Helen Ghosh , set out six principles that the Trust believes any new system must deliver for the public, stating that support should be focussed on environmental outcomes.
Responding to the publication, FUW President , Glyn Roberts, himself a tenant of a National Trust farm, said:
“While we would agree with some of the points made by the Trust, it appears to be a very one dimensional vision, with little or no reference to the well-being of the people who live and work in our rural areas, or the economic sustainability of our rural communities.
“Our environment, culture, communities and economy are heavily interwoven, with food production linking everything together. You only have to look at the Trust’s own farms here in Wales to see that complexity.
“The dangers of suggesting sweeping policies based upon single issues and incorrect assumptions are clear – in the worst cases the impacts would be akin to something like the highland clearances.”
Last year, the National Trust, one of the UK’s largest charities, received around £11 million under the Common Agricultural Policy, compared with an average Welsh farm payment of around £12,000.
Citing average 2015-16 net Welsh farm incomes of just £13,000, Mr Roberts said great care needed to be taken in order to avoid damaging ecosystems which depend upon a vibrant rural population and an economically viable farming sector.
“I have no doubt that the National Trust members who visit Wales want to see an economically, culturally and environmentally vibrant countryside.
“They do not wish to see areas where rural poverty has driven out the indigenous population, every other house is a retirement or holiday home, and the environment has been damaged by well-meaning but misguided anti-farming policies,” he added.