A continuation of direct payments to farmers is critical if consumers want lasting food security, but those subsidies must only be paid to those who actively farm, according to the president of NFU Cymru, Ed Bailey.
Just hours before the Welsh Assembly Government’s Rural Development Sub Committee launches its report into Common Agricultural Policy reform Mr Bailey said direct payments were needed to compensate for market failure, to manage price volatility and to reward high standards of farming.
Speaking on the eve of the Royal Welsh Show, Mr Bailey was adamant that support must be targeted at the food producer.
“That’s the person who makes the decisions on the farm, who puts their wellies on in the morning and is responsible for ensuring the cows are milked, the sheep are fed, who decides when to cut the harvest and who takes the risks associated with the ups and downs of the market place,” said Mr Bailey.
NFU Cymru, he said, would not support a return to “coupled” support or a mechanism that inhibits a farmer’s ability to respond to market signals.
But the union does want to investigate how agricultural activity can be linked to the Single Farm Payment to ensure that the CAP continues to support active farmers.
On the issue of the new Glastir agri-environment scheme, Mr Bailey welcomed a commitment by the Rural Affairs Minister for Wales, Elin Jones, that there would be exit payments from the existing Tir Mynydd scheme but he remained “deeply concerned” at the impact the loss of this scheme would have on incomes on farms in disadvantaged areas of Wales.
Many farmers had found the points target of the new scheme unobtainable, he added.