THE Farmers Union of Wales has met with Wales' new First Minister and spoken of frustration and anxiety among agricultural workers.

The FUW met with Vaughan Gething and new Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Climate Change, Huw Irranca-Davies, to discuss the way forward for the farming industry.

Speaking after the meeting, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “We welcome this early opportunity to outline the current challenges we face as a farming industry and to discuss possible next steps with the newly appointed First Minister and Cabinet Secretary following our request for an urgent meeting.

“We made it very clear that the feeling of frustration and anxiety within the industry still very much exists, and we presented our extensive Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation response and a list of our key asks to the Cabinet Secretary.”

FUW Deputy Head of Policy Gareth Parry added: “We also welcome the recognition and appreciation from both the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary of the current situation we find ourselves in. This is a crucial first step in understanding the severity of the problems we face and finding the best way forward to address them.

“What we want to see is the establishment of a small focussed stakeholder group tasked with discussing and proposing changes to the scheme through genuine co-design,” he said.

President Ian Rickman added: “The recent Government reshuffle is certainly positive news for the industry as it presents a new opportunity for meaningful change to the current proposals. We look forward to regular meetings with the Cabinet Secretary, and First Minister, to ensure that the final version of the Sustainable Farming Scheme properly delivers for Welsh farmers.”

NFU Cymru’s President, Aled Jones and Deputy President, Abi Reader, have also met with Mr Gething and Mr Irranca-Davies.

Following the meeting, they said: “During the meeting, we presented the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary with our comprehensive Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation response and raised a number of our key policy asks. These included concerns around the current SFS proposals, as well as other issues affecting the sector. We highlighted how the coming together of these factors and the emotional and financial stresses which accompanies them has contributed to a sense of anxiety and indeed turmoil in our rural communities.

“The meeting was constructive, and we now look to the new First Minister and Cabinet Secretary to consider our asks. At such a pivotal time in the design of the SFS we have asked the Cabinet Secretary to commit to leading a series of meetings with ourselves to ensure we can get a scheme that delivers for Welsh farming and Welsh Government.

“Farmers need stability, now more than ever. They need stability to invest in their businesses, to invest in efficiency gains and in the environment. This is why we are once again urging Welsh Government to ensure that there is a strong stability element in the final SFS and that the universal actions are truly practical and achievable for all farm types, sectors and locations.”