Welsh farms need five years to adapt to CAP reform

Welsh farmers must be given at least five years to adapt to an area-based single farm payment system after CAP reform in 2013, according to Wales’ rural affairs minister, Elin Jones.

Ms Jones said the move from Wales’ current historic system of payments represented a major change for farmers and a transitional period of adjustment was needed.

“We know that the change could have a dramatic impact on payments for some farmers in Wales – some may find themselves better off and some will be worse off through this process of redistribution.

“In order that the effect is not too difficult we need to get the European Commission to agree to a period of transition,” she said.

The Single Payment Scheme delivers direct support of about £280m annually to Wales’ farming sector, an industry that would not be viable without these, suggested the minister.

She welcomed an indication that the EU Commission was proposing to keep direct payments from 2014. But she added that, should the position change, she would do everything she could to protect farm payments.

“I will use the months ahead to play a full role in helping to shape the UK negotiating position, and as part of that process will withstand any attempts to bring direct payments to an end,” she said.

Ms Jones is resolute that there must be no fundamental change in the underpinning purpose of the CAP – to provide income support for farmers, to sustain food production and to continue to support sustainable land management.

She expressed concern at the possible “greening” of Pillar 1 direct support payments, whereby farmers would be forced to deliver environmental measures through cross-compliance, and the effect it could have on Wales’ own Glastir environmental land management scheme.

If the proposal is accepted it could mean that Glastir would have to be adapted, she admitted.

The minister believed all but the basic environmental requirements should be delivered via Pillar 2 rural development funding.