New entrants fear bankruptcy

SINGLE FARM payments based on historic receipts will bankrupt recent entrants to Welsh farming, claims a newly-formed action group.

New Entrants Farming Wales says more than 500 mainly young farmers, who will have to depend on the national reserve for their SFPs, could lose about half their current support.

“We understand why Welsh farmers were so pleased that their SFPs will be historically based,” said Anthony Mears, one of the organisation‘s four founders.

“But the decision is a kick in the teeth to those whose businesses were at an early stage of development during the base years.

“Most affected are still unaware of the likely impact unless more than 3% of regional payment entitlements go into the national reserve.

“As things stand they will get flat rate area payments unrelated to their current businesses or land type.”

Mr Mears said there were concerns that there will be insufficient entitlement in the reserve to meet all eligible claims, and many people will get half of what they now get.

“We believe that the proposals will effectively wipe out a generation of younger farmers – the very people politicians claim to be committed to helping.”

Mr Mears, an Oxford graduate who runs sheep and suckler cows at Llaca Farm, Felinfach, Brecon, has formed the organisation with three other young farmers.

These include Matthew Vaughan, Lantra Trainee of the Year in 2003, and Darren Williams, past winner of the Welsh Agricultural Student of the Year Award.

Bob Davies, the fourth founder member, rents a beef, sheep and arable unit near Brecon and a hill unit near Sennybridge with his wife Rachel, acting secretary of the group.

Arwyn Owen, Farmers Union of Wales director of policy, insisted his members were very sympathetic to new entrants and would not complain if the national reserve were bigger.

But EU rules allow no more than 3% of entitlements to be siphoned off, he said. 

The reserve is, therefore, likely to be too small to meet the needs of newcomers who have already had to battle hard to get enough quota.

A Welsh Assembly spokeswoman said that the consultation process was ongoing, and it was far too early to speculate about the value of payments from the national reserve.    

For more information about the group tel. 07818 848 950

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