Welsh Office aid pledge

7 February 1997

Welsh Office aid pledge

WELSH farm minister Jonathan Evans has pledged to improve the Welsh Offices performance on payment of arable aid.

Mr Evans admitted that its payment record was "not all wed wish". And he was unhappy that only 66% of last years claims had been paid by the target date.

"I intend to ensure we exert greater efforts to ensure payments to farmers in Wales are made within the time commitment," he said.

He refused to guarantee that Welsh farmers would in future receive payments at the same time as their English counterparts. But said all his efforts would go to ensure that payments were not late next year.

Mr Evans offered no hope to Welsh growers in less favoured areas, whose arable payments are lower than those in Scottish and English LFAs. "There is no prospect that there will be a unanimity of payments," he said.

The original payment rates had been based on historic yield levels and there was "very little likelihood" that adjustments to those figures would be made.

He also announced an extension of the agriculture rural development grant scheme.

until the end of the century. The grant fund would be doubled, to £3m, over the next two years. And the scheme would be widened to allow the development of agri-tourism and countryside enhancement, on top of the existing provision for agricultural and forestry projects.

Jonathan Evans lends an ear to Welsh growers payment concerns.

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