Most farmers in Wales who qualify for hill farming support have received their payments on the first day it was due.

The Welsh Assembly Government said that just over 95% – 9787- Tir Mynydd claimants had been paid a total of £23.18m.

It had received 10,247 valid applications in May 2010 for the scheme, which is available to farmers in Less Favoured Areas of Wales who have maintained beef or sheep, or both, at a minimum stocking density of 0.1 livestock units throughout past year.

Wales’ rural affairs minister, Elin Jones, said she was delighted the payments had begun so quickly.

“The high number of payments made, demonstrates the dedication of staff in Rural Payments Wales to helping farmers in these difficult economic times,’’ she said.

As Wales moves towards the Glastir land management scheme, farmers have been assured full Tir Mynydd payments next year but there will be no further payouts beyond 2012.

Elin Jones announced at the end of last year that farmers who received a Tir Mynydd payment in 2011 would be eligible to apply for a full payment in 2012, capped at the 2011 payable area.

Meanwhile, in England, the Rural Payments Agency told farmers that they could submit their applications for the Single Payment Scheme 2011 online from 1 March.

“All farmers are encouraged to use the free SPS Online service, which checks for common mistakes before applications are submitted,” a spokeswoman said.

SPS online also provides an instant receipt so farmers do not have to travel to drop-in centres to hand in their forms. The service is now available on the Business Link website.  

“Farmers who applied online last year won’t be sent a paper SPS application form this year, however they will still be sent a guidance book,” she said.

Paper application forms will be sent in early March to farmers and agents who didn’t apply online last year.

These farmers are also being re-sent their e-channel personal identification numbers and a booklet explaining how to register and enrol for the online service, to make it as easy as possible.