The abolition of direct farm subsidies would devastate Welsh farm businesses and lead to the abandonment of large swathes of uplands, according to Farmers Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan.
Responding to comments made by DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman at the Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Vaughan suggested a reduction in subsidies would have dramatic consequences for the Welsh beef and sheep sectors.
Mr Vaughan wanted the government to reject calls to re-nationalise agricultural spending within the EU and support the continuation of direct payments and market protection policies until measures are in place to ensure fair returns for primary producers.
He added that Mrs Spelman’s proposals would lead to a decline in UK food production and rural employment. Investment would be discouraged, resulting in a negative impact on efficient production.
“I am also concerned that, in the unlikely event current UK government proposals are adopted by the EU, this will lead to a situation whereby the majority of the uplands are abandoned, while on more productive land those who are currently farmers become low-paid employees on vast farms owned by the equivalent of multinational companies,” said Mr Vaughan in a letter to the minister.
He called for the CAP and its core objectives to be supported and maintained, with particular emphasis on ensuring a fair standard of living for the agricultural community.
The post-2013 CAP budget must properly reflect the importance of the CAP as a mechanism for addressing major environmental and food production challenges, he added.
“CAP regulations should be revised to ensure all penalties are proportionate and that administrative errors are properly recognised,” he said.
Mr Vaughan has also called for the introduction of a compulsory pan-European scheme to help and encourage young entrants and the introduction of a compulsory Less Favoured Area scheme.
“CAP post-2013 must proactively support family farms, and recognise their central role in protecting the natural environment and rural communities,” said Mr Vaughan.
He concluded by calling for the maintenance of direct payments and market protection policies until measures are in place to ensure fair returns for primary producers.