NFU Cymru believes it can successfully defend Wales’ less favoured area boundaries against EU pressure to cut the area of land given special status.

In 2002 the European Court of Auditors criticised the designation of some land as eligible for special financial support and, in spring 2008, the EU is likely to table proposals for reducing the area involved.

“Given that 80% of Wales is currently designated LFA, I recently raised the important issue with Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU Commissioner,” said Dai Davies, NFU Cymru president. “She was able to reassure me that she did not foresee a significant change in Wales.

“While I take great comfort from her comment, I believe it is important that we campaign to demonstrate that the criteria used to classify most of Wales as LFA are absolutely justified.

“Designation reflects physical handicaps and socio-economic conditions. Farmers who manage LFAs are also delivering environmental objectives and must continue to be supported.”

Mr Davies said it was questionable whether LFA designations in some EU countries like Luxembourg could be justified, but insisted that Wales was a special case.

He anticipated that farm union leaders from other parts of the UK would feel the same and he would raise the issue for debate when he hosted the September office holders’ meeting in Glamorgan.

bobdavies@agrinews.fsnet.co.uk