A warning has been sounded that new agricultural pollution control rules in Wales are heightening farmer stress and anxiety levels.

It comes as NFU Cymru starts gathering evidence to challenge rules which it describes as “not fit for purpose’’.

The union has formed a group dedicated to reviewing the Control of Agricultural Pollution Regulations, to inform its position on the issues around these ahead of the Welsh government’s own evaluation.

Its president Aled Jones voiced concern about the impact the rules were having on farmers.

“NFU Cymru is clear that the Control of the Agricultural Pollution Regulations are not fit for purpose and are resulting in significant negative impacts to farm business viability as well as contributing to high levels of stress and anxiety within farming families,’’ he said.

Those regulations are a “direct threat’’ to food production in Wales, he insisted.

On 31 December 2024, a one-year scheme ends that has allowed farmers to apply a higher rate of nitrogen (N) from grazing livestock manures than the 170kg/N/hectare limit set out in the regulations.

Although the government has until April 2025 to complete that review, Mr Jones said it must take place before the derogation ends.

“It is clear that a long-term sustainable solution to N limits is needed,’’ he added.

The government has said that assessments will be undertaken on the impact of the 170kg limit, and also the impact of other proposals within the regulations.

The remit of the new NFU Cymru water quality group is to gather cross-sectoral evidence and feedback on both the regulations and proposed changes.

The group will be chaired by milk producer Martin Griffiths, who farms at Ffosygravel Uchaf, near Borth, Ceredigion, and is the vice chair of the union’s dairy board.

He warned that farmers were grappling with “very significant investment costs’’ resulting from the regulations.

There is also the issue of securing the necessary planning permissions for infrastructure such as slurry storage and achieving compliance with what Mr Griffiths described as “draconian’’ record-keeping.

“The pan-Wales nature of the regulations means that all farmers are affected irrespective of local conditions,’’ he said.