Welsh farmers have begun to receive their single farm payments, Wales’ rural affairs minister Elin Jones has confirmed.

The Welsh Assembly processed £183m (82.5%) of single farm payments by 1 December, Ms Jones told visitors to the Welsh Winter Fair at Llanelwedd on 1 December.

That figure improved upon last year’s achievement of 75% payments.

At the winter fair Ms Jones said: “I am pleased to have this good news today. We have already exceeded the number of farmers that were paid by Christmas last year. This year I expect more than 85% of our farmers to receive their payments by Christmas.

“Being able to plan ahead is important for all businesses, including farming. The fact that so many farmers can expect to receive their payment by Christmas will be of great assistance, particularly at this time [of economic downturn].

“This demonstrates the commitment and dedication of staff in Rural Payments Wales to helping farmers in these difficult economic times.

“Further welcome news is that there will be a small boost in income for most Welsh farming families this year, as those that receive the single payments in sterling will get a 10.6% increase, net of modulation, for the same entitlements held, as a result of the exchange rate difference,” Ms Jones said.