Wales is to keep its system of individual on-farm valuations for compensating farmers who lose cattle to bovine TB – but there will be a cap of £15,000 on payments for pedigree stock.
Despite the European Commission’s concern that Welsh farmers receive more than their English counterparts, the Welsh government will not be introducing the table valuation system in place in England.
Compensation will continue to be based on individual valuations, Welsh farm minister Rebecca Evans announced on Tuesday (21 October).
The announcement comes after a fervent campaign by the industry to protect the status quo.
In addition to the £15,000 cap on payments, which the minister believed took into account the quality of stock in Wales, the Welsh government will introduce a series of measures to penalise farmers who undertake “risky practices”.
“We have already introduced veterinary improvement notices, or VINs, which give the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Wales the legal authority to enforce improvements on farms which are seen as high risk,” she said.
For the first time, the Welsh government will also procure valuers under a new framework contract.
The payments review had been ordered by the former Welsh farm minister, Alun Davies, after the EU Audit and Task Force criticised the level of TB valuations in Wales compared with published market prices.
The minister’s announcement that the system would remain has been broadly welcomed by the industry and opposition politicians.
Plaid Cymru’s rural affairs Spokesman, Llyr Gruffydd, said changing the system would have been unfair at a time when farmers are under financial pressure and would have been very damaging for the industry.
He insisted that proposals to review the use of VINs must be “proportionate and reasonable’’.
The changes are to be reviewed by the Welsh government within two years to ensure that they are fair to the taxpayer and to the farmer.