Wales advances SFP worth £23m to snow-hit farmers

Advance single farm payments totaling £23m have been paid to 2,665 Welsh farmers whose cashflows have been restricted by last spring’s severe weather – but some of the worst-affected farms have been excluded.

Wales’ farm minister Alun Davies announced last month he intended to bring forward the payments to help farmers whose incomes were hit by blizzard conditions in eight Welsh counties in March.

Mr Davies said he hoped earlier access to funds would help ease some of the financial pressures lamb producers are experiencing at a time when their finances would normally be boosted by lamb sales.

But the system of identifying the regions eligible for payments has come under scrutiny because some farmers who lost up to 300 ewes and their unborn lambs haven’t been paid a penny.

Aled Jones saw 200 of his ewes and 600 lambs perish in several feet of snow on the mountains near Llangollen. His neighbour also lost 300 ewes, but neither is eligible for early payment.

“I rang the Welsh government office and was told two of my holdings weren’t eligible and although the third was, we won’t be getting the advance payment because there was a mapping anomaly in this region that affected many farmers and this will take up to six weeks to rectify,” said Mr Jones. “They did say we would be added to the list, but I haven’t heard anything further.”

With just a few lambs to sell, he admits it is a difficult time. But other farmers with holdings just a short distance from him have been buoyed by the early payments.

Mr Jones said the mood at Ruthin livestock market yesterday (17 October) was very upbeat. “There were lambs being sold for £73 that were struggling to make £50 a few weeks ago. The mood had definitely changed, some farmers felt they had money to spend, but others are still living hand to mouth.”

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