FARMERS' unions in Wales have welcomed confirmation from rural affairs cabinet secretary Lesley Griffiths at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair that the Basic Payment Scheme will remain unchanged for 2020.

NFU Cymru said the announcement provided much-needed assurance for Welsh farmers, but warned that any replacement schemes must deliver at least the same level of stability for the industry in the future.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales also welcomed her announcement that more than 85 per cent of farmers’ BPS 2018 claims will be made on the first day of the payment window (Monday, December 3 ).

That will mean more than £181m will be paid into the bank accounts of more than 13,200 Welsh farm businesses. This includes nearly 1,000 farmers who applied for the BPS loan scheme but will now get their BPS on day one.

On the subject of the BPS scheme itself, NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has listened to the views of the farming industry, rural businesses and communities following lobbying by NFU Cymru, along with industry partners, and taken a decision that provides some much-needed stability in a period of unprecedented political instability.

“We are clear that any replacement scheme(s) must deliver at least the same level of stability for farming businesses, the food supply chain and rural communities that the BPS currently delivers. This can only be determined once the nature of our long term trading relationship becomes clearer, after thorough impact assessments have been completed and when we can be absolutely confident that any new measures have been robustly designed and piloted."

FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “The Welsh Government has hit a high payment target and we are grateful to all the staff who have worked hard to ensure money can be released on the first day of the payment window. However, there are still 15 per cent of farms who will not receive their payment and we hope that rapid progress can be made in processing these.

“Most of the money arriving in the farm account through the BPS will be going straight out to secondary and tertiary businesses. Hundreds of businesses are solely reliant on Welsh agriculture. Any delay in the payment of the Basic Payment would have a direct impact on these businesses and their employees.”

Speaking at the Hybu Cig Cymru breakfast, the cabinet secretary said the decision to keep BPS for a further year would provide reassurance to the industry and give them more time to prepare for the changes to future farm support post-Brexit.

She reiterated her commitment to support farmers through a new land management programme, which will provide support in a smarter way than the current BPS.

Ms Griffiths said: “We had an overwhelming response to our consultation ‘Brexit and our Land’ and are now considering all the responses in detail.

“We will continue to support farmers post-Brexit but in a smarter way. Maintaining the status quo is not an option and we now have the opportunity to design a new, better system of farm support."