Wales’ upland farmers will struggle to maintain their businesses under proposals to link CAP payments to environmental measures, a report by NFU Cymru warns.

The union’s report says Welsh farms relied on maximising output on improved and semi-improved pasture and would need better financial and legislative support to be viable.

The Farming Delivers for the Hills and Uplands report suggests that without these measures the region – which accounts for 2.7m acres of Welsh countryside – will struggle to produce food.

The support upland communities had received under CAP’s Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 had been crucial for upland agriculture, it adds.

And it suggests that proposals to green Pillar 1 payments would restrict the productive capacity of upland agriculture.

“Any measures that restrict what a farmer can do with this land, what can be grown or how the land and sward can be improved will have major implications for the viability of upland farming businesses,” the NFU Cymru document states.

Support provided to upland farmers via the Wales Rural Development Plan has also been vital to maintaining the profitability and viability of upland farming.

EU regulations allow for compensatory allowances to offset the effects of farming in areas of permanent handicap but the Welsh government had decided not to provide support to less favoured areas under this measure.

“This matter must be redressed at the earliest opportunity with the reinstatement of a dedicated support scheme under the Wales RDP,” according to the report.

It also urges the Welsh government to take a fresh look at planning and environmental constraints on renewable energy projects in Wales and for more investment to be made into upland farming research and development.

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