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Rishi Sunak attacks Welsh farm subsidy plans

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticized the Welsh government's proposed changes to farm subsidies, labeling them harmful and alarming, and suggesting they pose a risk to the nation's food supply.
The contentious proposal includes payments to farmers for maintaining trees on 10% of their land, prompting demonstrations.

Welsh officials claim the new program aims to assist all farmers. As the race for the new first minister continues, candidates Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles have vowed to consider the farmers' concerns.

Recent protests have seen Mark Drakeford, the outgoing First Minister, confronted, and slow-driving demonstrations in Newtown.

Ahead of the Welsh Conservatives' conference, Sunak highlighted the farming union's concerns about the potential loss of thousands of jobs, reduced food security, and lowered farm incomes.

Post-Brexit, the UK is establishing its own agricultural support schemes separate from the EU, with each region managing its own subsidies.

England's new farm payment plan has been criticized for prioritizing environmental concerns over food production. Sunak has announced financial support for UK farmers without new funding, committing to allocate £2.4 billion across the UK, the same level of funding provided by the EU.

He refrained from discussing the potential acquisition of the Wylfa site by the UK government and provided no timeframe for the promised electrification of North Wales's mainline, assuring only that funds had been set aside.

The Welsh government responded by emphasizing their plan to maintain the £238 million Basic Payment Scheme in 2024, providing stability requested by farmers.

They also highlighted the £243 million shortfall in funds due to decisions by the UK government and the loss of EU funding. The Welsh government reiterated its commitment to the agriculture sector and to collaborating with farmers through the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

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