13 April 2000
28m summit aid for Wales

By Robert Davies

THE Downing Street summit package is worth 28 million to Welsh farmers, the Welsh National Assembly has been told.

Edwina Hart, Welsh finance secretary, said 12.25m will be paid under Tir Mynydd – the reformed Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowance scheme.

Hill farmers will receive up to 2.45m to help improve their businesses within the framework of rural development plans and EU Objective 1 funding.

Waless share of the 2m announced to help farmers restructure will be 609,000. Abolition of the OTMS weight limit will be worth about 2m.

Welsh dairy and beef farmers will each get 2.3m in agrimonetary compensation to offset the strength of Sterling.

The large Welsh sheep flock means that producers will get 6m in agri-monetary compensation, but the amount for pig producers is relatively small.

Farmers will also benefit from the abolition of dairy hygiene charges and suspension of groundwater payments.

Mrs Hart described the package as “a breathing space for farmers”, but admitted the measures were not a long-term solution of farmings problems.

A separate decision to increase Welsh funding for the Organic Farming Scheme by 2m will allow all eligible applicants to receive help.

The 2.95m available will go to 265 farmers during conversion to organic production. Funding for applications made this year will be announced later.

Meanwhile, the British Wool Marketing Board has obtained a 60,000 boost from Objective 5b cash to train Welsh shearers and wool handlers.

The money will allow a team of 30 instructors led by to hold training sessions for beginners and competent shearers in a bid to increase off-farm incomes.