In an unprecedented move, Welsh livestock farmers who were hardest hit by last spring’s severe weather will get half their single farm payment six weeks early.

Welsh farming minister Alun Davies has announced that around 3,300 farmers in eight of the worst affected counties will receive their payments from 16 October.

Although the minister had faced some criticism from farmers and unions who felt his response to the crisis didn’t go far enough, they will welcome this surprise move.

Wales is the only UK country whose government agreed to make early payments to farmers who could be experiencing cash flow difficulties as a result of major losses of their livestock.

The early payments will be made automatically to farmers in parts of Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Montgomeryshire, North Ceredigion, Radnor and Wrexham – areas where a temporary on-farm burial derogation had been in place.

They will be paid the balance on 2 December, when the majority of Welsh farmers will receive their single payment, although this date is subject to validation.

Mr Davies said he hoped the funding would help alleviate the financial pressures some farmers are facing, particularly those that had lost lambs.

“We are approaching the time of year when farmers across Wales sell their lambs and sheep. I therefore recognised that we needed to act now to help farmers who will be faced with receiving less of an income this time of year because of the losses they suffered in March and April,” he said.

“I appreciate that, like most businesses, farmers are facing some significant challenges and I hope that this earlier access to funds helps to ease some of the pressures farmers are experiencing during this particularly crucial time of year.”

The initial phase of an independent review into the resilience of the farming industry, commissioned as a direct result of last spring’s crisis, found that Mr Davies’ intervention at the time was appropriate to the situation in Wales.

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