Farmers push for talks on fairer BPS for Wales

Farmers challenging Wales’ new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) are seeking a face-to-face meeting with the Welsh government in a bid to agree a “fairer’’ system of calculating the subsidy.

The 59 farmers, known as Farmers for Regional Payments, questioned whether the government’s decision to introduce a flat-rate payment by 2019 was lawful and would be quashed by a court of law.

The group are considering their position after the government responded robustly to that claim, which they instigated last month. 

They had formally served a letter of claim on Welsh ministers but, in response, government solicitors insisted that the measures taken to introduce a flat-rate payment by 2019 were correct.

The government did not accept that a flat-rate payment breached EU law.

See also: Second legal challenge to Welsh Basic Payment Scheme deal

Farmers for Regional Payments said the decision to move to a flat-rate payment per hectare for all Welsh farmers would lead to “unemployment, business failure, detrimental effects on the environment and a significant deterioration in the quality and quantity of food produced in Wales”.

It argues that the BPS should be based on a regional model.

Adam Finch, partner at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, solicitors acting for the group, said it was not just lowland farms involved in the action but farmers throughout Wales. 

“They are keen to resolve this sensibly,” said Mr Finch.

“They do not want to cause divisions within the Welsh community or hold up the payments.

“However, they do want to be able to compete favourably with other countries.

“We have therefore proposed a meeting to the Welsh government to see whether there is a fairer way of agreeing the payment scheme,” Mr Finch added.

In a statement, the Welsh government said it was considering the content of this letter.

Its spokesman added that Rural Payments Wales was making “every effort” to begin making CAP payments to farmers across Wales this December, and that this work was at an “advanced stage”.

It is believed that between 70-80% of entitlements will be paid as early in the payment window as possible with the balance paid around April 2016.