As uncertainty continues over how much money Welsh farmers will receive from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the president of NFU Cymru says it has made farm business planning in Wales a “lottery’’.
The Welsh government is expected to make a statement early this week following its surprise move in December to quash regulations that defined Wales’ BPS payment regions.
Payment levels had already been set by the Welsh government and farmers had set their budgets against these. Under the original agreement, land above the 400m line was worth £16/ha (€20/ha) while land below the line was worth £160/ha (€200/ha).
But since the assembly government acknowledged that the introduction of a 400m line was unjustifiable, farmers have no idea how much they will get.
NFU Cymru president Stephen James urged the Welsh government not to hasten consultation proposals.
“These are uncertain times for farmers in Wales with a new CAP in existence from 1 January 2015 but with farmers across Wales having little idea of what level of support they can expect, this makes farm business planning a lottery,” he said.
“Given the importance of direct payments to business viability and to underpinning food production in Wales it is vital the Welsh government comes forward with consultation proposals for the Basic Payment Scheme as soon as possible.’’
Mr James urged the government to reconsider all the options available under EU regulations while ensuring an uncomplicated scheme that can deliver payments from December 2015.
He believed there could be benefits in mirroring aspects of Ireland’s scheme.
“As well as a differentiated payment rate system, consideration should also be given to the approach to CAP direct payments adopted in Ireland, the so-called ‘tunnel approach’ which seeks to limit the losses for farmers in the transition towards an area based payment,” Mr James suggested.