NEARLY half of all farmers in Wales will be better off when the country switches to area-based subsidy payments, according to the Welsh Government.

A consultation document which seeks the views of Welsh farmers on how direct payments will be made suggests that 48% of farms would gain under the new flat rate Basic Payment although 35% would lose at least 10% of their current payment.

Only 17% would remain within 10% of what they currently receive under the historical payment model.

Farms that will lose out are those with large historical entitlements, mainly dairy units; they would receive ‘significantly less’ funding under a flat rate payment, according to the document.

Although the Welsh Government accepts that there would be no additional funding and payments would therefore have to be ‘redistributed’, the transition period has been of great concern.

“The Welsh Government has argued for a transition period of up to ten years and we think that the argument for a long transition period is being listened to,”

the consultation document states.

This extended transition would allow Welsh farmers to manage what will be a significant adjustment to their income because the Single Payment, on average, represents a higher percentage of net farm income than in England. The Welsh Government favours a step change of between 10% and 20%.

The impact of capping in Wales is likely to be minimal.

Early estimates indicate that when Wales needs to be making area based payments in full, 0.1% of all farms – around 0.1% – would lose out by 1.2 million euros.

Wales’ deputy farming minister, Alun Davies, urged farmers to have their say in the consultation process.

“I would encourage all farmers in Wales to engage with this public consultation and I look forward to receiving detailed and constructive contributions, so that we can develop the best proposals and outcomes for those at the sharp end, those farmers who will be most affected by changes to CAP,” he said.


Rural voice is 'loud and clear' in Europe


THE voice of farmers is being heard loud and clear inside the European Parliament, a top union official has said.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) deputy president Meurig Raymond, who farms in Pembrokeshire, told NFU Cymru members at the Monmouthshire annual county conference: “The union has worked tirelessly with MEPs for months to make sure that the voice of our members is heard loud and clear inside the European Parliament. Those efforts are now paying off.

“We were deeply disappointed with the commission’s proposals when they were issued almost 18 months ago, but the vote by the European Parliament’s agriculture committee has brought about significant improvement in many areas, removing some of the worst excesses of unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape from the proposals.”

The union lobbied against the distorting economic active farmer test, which would have meant every farmer in the country having to disclose their nonagricultural receipts to qualify for CAP payments.

MEPs were also asked to make the greening proposals more workable and for a more proportionate risk-based penalty system, which includes an early warning system for breaches of a more minor nature.

“We also requested that the exchange rate used to calculate the value of farm payments be done on the basis of the average of a month as opposed to being set on one day, as is currently the case,” added Mr Raymond.

“MEPs have delivered for us on all of these areas and more.

Unfortunately not everything has gone entirely our way.”

Nigel Bowyer, NFU Cymru Monmouthshire county chairman said: “It is encouraging to hear about the work of the union on our behalf – taking place in Cardiff, Westminster and in Brussels.”

The draft position will head to the European Parliament plenary session in mid-March.