Hill farm with sheep© FLPA/REX Shutterstock

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have pledged a £20m annual package to support hill farmers in their manifesto for agriculture ahead of the Assembly elections.

The scheme, for Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC), would offer dedicates support to hill farmers on difficult terrain to “improve their resilience and competitiveness”, the party says.

NFU Cymru and the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) have called for the introduction of new measures to help upland farmers since the Welsh government scrapped the Tir Mynydd scheme in 2012, which had run for four years.

See also: Welsh farmers tell election candidates to back badger cull

The previous scheme enabled hill farmers to receive additional CAP payments in line with the EU’s less favoured area (LFA) definition. These payments were worth between £19.5m and £21.3m.

The Lib Dems said their proposed scheme would be worth about £20,687,000 each year.

Ahead of the 5 May Assembly elections, the Lib Dems launched their agriculture manifesto on a farm in Llanilar on Monday (11 April).

Speaking at the launch, party leader Kirsty Williams said: “Farmers in Wales deliver some of the greatest produce in the world, but too often they are not getting the support they need from an out-of-touch Labour government.

“Every member state of the EU and each of the UK devolved administrations has some form of financial support for those who farm in difficult areas, all except here in Wales.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats would end this unfair competitive disadvantage.”

In the manifesto, the Lib Dems also included a promise to promote share farming and succession planning to “ensure the survival of the family farm”.

A third key pledge seeks to help farmers apply for small grants for agri-environment schemes.

Elizabeth Evans, Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate for Ceredigion, said: “We would look to offer more small-scale, accession grants for farmers to invest in animal welfare, reducing carbon emissions, and more efficient IT so they can increase diversity and profitability.”

The Lib Dems said it would also look to simply the Glastir agri-environment system, which it said had been a “source of great confusion and frustration for many farmers” to ensure payments were made on time.