The Welsh government has admitted that farmers in Wales may not receive their first direct support subsidy payments under the new CAP on time.
Last month, the regulations that defined Wales’ Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment regions were quashed following a successful legal challenge by farmers who argued that intended payment rates to moorland regions were unfair.
In a statement issued on Monday (12 January), Wales’ deputy minister for farming and food Rebecca Evans admitted that, as a result, it was likely there would be “some consequential impacts” on the government’s ability to make payments in December 2015.
“We look forward to a future where the BPS Pillar 1 direct payments are distributed fairly to defend food production and to protect and enhance the countryside for the benefit of everyone in Wales.” Tony Davies, Fairness for the Uplands
She also confirmed that farmers would no longer receive the payment rates they had been expecting.
“Although Welsh government has been clear throughout that all payment rates were indicative pending establishment of total entitlements under the new BPS, it is inevitable that this revised situation will result in change to the payments that farmers might have expected in the years ahead,” she said.
“The budget available for Pillar 1 payments remains as before; some redistribution is therefore inevitable.’’
Options for the future will be evaluated on their impact on farmers in all the land regions, and on whether they can be delivered within the reduced timescales, the minister added.
“Work has already begun on alternative options,” she said. Formal consultation will begin once the minister is satisfied that the proposals are ready for wider consideration.
Fairness for the Uplands, the group which initiated the legal challenge to the original scheme, said it would continue to scrutinise every step of the CAP reform process.
The group urged the government to introduce a simple scheme to avoid payment delays.
“The extra costs of producing food in the uplands due to the shorter growing season should be taken into account,” said the group’s spokesman, Tony Davies. “Most importantly, the new BPS should comply with the relevant European regulations.’’
Mr Davies said the Welsh government should avoid focusing on trying to replicate historical payments based on stocking levels from the past.
“Trading of entitlements combined with fluctuating stocking levels has rendered historical payments irrelevant. How can today’s farmers be business minded and focus on the future if the BPS is based on figures from over 12 years ago?” he said.
“We look forward to a future where the BPS Pillar 1 direct payments are distributed fairly to defend food production and to protect and enhance the countryside for the benefit of everyone in Wales.”