Welsh farmers welcome hill scheme pledge

Jane Davidson, the Welsh Assembly minister responsible for rural affairs, says she will honour a decision by the whole assembly to partially re-instate cuts in less favoured area payments.

In a marathon debate immediately before the April assembly election, her predecessor Carwyn Jones warned that a new minister would not be obliged to accept the outgoing assembly’s vote to reverse his plan to cut £12m off the Tir Mynydd budget.

But Ms Davidson has told Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru’s rural affairs spokeswoman, who drafted the resolution to increase proposed funding in 2008 from £22m to £29m, she was “happy to confirm” that she would respect the judgement of the last assembly.

Dai Davies, NFU Cymru president, said that he warmly welcomed Ms Davidson’s response to what was a “clear and unequivocal mandate” for a new minister to re-orientate spending under the new Rural Development Plan in favour of the Tir Mynydd scheme.

Derek Morgan, chair of the Farmers Union of Wales’s hill farming committee, said the reassurance would be welcomed by farmers on the 80% of land in Wales designated as less favoured.

“It will at least go some way towards alleviating the hardship caused by critically low incomes,” insisted Mr Morgan.

“But we must not forget that Tir Mynydd payments will still fall significantly short of their previous levels.”

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