AT LAST, Welsh farmers can plan the next few years now that the details of Wales’ new subsidy system have been agreed.

The farming sectors in every other UK region have known for months how their Basic Payment Scheme will shape up. Meanwhile, farmers here have had to patiently wait for information after a legal challenge scuppered the Welsh government’s original plans.

European Union funding through the CAP accounts for 80% of farm income in Wales and supports thousands of farmers. Add to this the crippling volatility that is squeezing prices in nearly every sector and the lack of clarity hasn’t been at all helpful.

It has never been more important for the 16,958 farmers who submitted an application to receive direct payment and other CAP support to know how the €322 million a year in direct payment support will be shared over the next seven years.

But a decision has now been made and what is clear is that the new payment system will lead to considerable change for the Welsh farming industry.

Many farmers will get significantly less support than they did under the previous Single Payment system while others will gain.

The winners will be larger, more extensive hill farmers, while the biggest losers will be intensive lowland farms.

Individual farming businesses across Wales must now take time to consider how the indicative payment rates will impact on their farm business income.

And all the stops must be pulled out to make certain that part-payments are made as early as possible when the EU payments window opens on December 1. Never has the Welsh farming industry been more in need of this cash injection.