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Jeremy Clarkson calls Welsh tree-planting policy ‘completely daft’ as Mark Drakeford launches defence | UK News

Farmers cannot be allowed to “decide what to do” with government funding, Wales’s first minister has said.

Mark Drakeford told a news conference that the Welsh public was “entitled to a return on [its] investment”.

Protests have taken place across Wales in recent weeks over a controversial new funding scheme, which is the subject of an ongoing consultation.

Broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson, who owns a farm in the Cotswolds, waded into the row over the weekend, calling the policy “completely daft”.

The sustainable farming scheme (SFS) will replace the basic payment scheme and will require farmers to meet certain environmental obligations.

One of those is a requirement for farmers to plant trees on 10% of their land.

While this applies only to land where conditions allow, farming unions are worried about its impact on the industry’s future.

What will the new scheme mean?

The Welsh government commissioned research into the impact of its proposals.

The impact assessment is based on previous 2022 outline proposals.

That assessment predicted a 10.8% reduction in Welsh livestock numbers and a loss of £199m to farm business income.

Welsh farms could see a cut of 11% in labour, which would equate to a loss of 5,500 jobs based on current employment levels.

Mr Drakeford told journalists it was “inevitable and unavoidable” that a new funding scheme for farmers in Wales would have to be established after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

“The Welsh government wants to go on supporting farmers here in Wales, but the bargain cannot be that the public puts its hand into its pocket to put millions of pounds… on the table, for farmers to just do whatever farmers think they would like to do with it,” he said.

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“Some voices in farming want to argue that the public should pay the money and farmers should decide what to do.

“That can’t be the bargain and sensible voices, the vast majority of voices in the farming community, understand that that can’t be the way we face the future together.”

Sky News has contacted the Welsh farming unions for their response.

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