Welsh farmers could receive up to 80% of their single farm payments on 1 December regardless of what happens in England.

Rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones told the Farmers Union of Wales’s annual conference at Aberystwyth that he was committed to distributing as much of farmers’ entitlements as possible when the payment window opened.

But difficulties across the border posed some problems, especially over finalising the percentage deduction for the National Reserve.

“The assembly government, working closely with DEFRA, has secured sufficient flexibility from the EU Commission that will enable us to start making payments from 1 December,” Mr Jones said.

He is due to announce the actual percentage in the next weeks.

It will be set at a level that ensured there was no risk of making overpayments that would have to be clawed back.

Mr Jones insisted that recent CAP reforms would be in place until 2013, and provided a stable basis for farmers to make decisions to secure the long-term sustainability of their businesses.

It was pure speculation to link the built-in review procedure, and political debate about EU financing after 2007, with the ending of CAP payments to farmers.

But the Welsh industry faced problems, not least an epidemic of bovine tuberculosis.

“I am committed to tackling this disease in Wales by implementing the TB Action Group’s recommendations and taking any other steps I believe necessary to halt the spread of the disease, reduce incidence and eradicate the problem.”

Responsibility for animal health and welfare had been devolved to Cardiff, including implementation of the GB Strategy plan.

Mr Jones is to seek the advice of organisations like the FUW on aspects of the strategy of direct relevance to Wales.

“I believe the future of farming is bright and the Welsh Assembly is ready to do what it can to support you and your families in that future,” said Mr Jones.

fwnews@rbi.co.uk