Farm groups have welcomed a series of emergency measures issued by Government to support Welsh farmers during the coronavirus outbreak.
In recognition of the challenges facing the sector as a result of the pandemic, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has confirmed farmers will have an extra month to submit their Single Application Form (SAF), with the deadline now extended to June 15.
This extension will allow farmers more time to apply for support under the Basic Payment and Glastir Schemes, helping to alleviate potential cashflow problems amid an ‘unprecedented’ time.
Ms Griffiths said: “Our farmers play a crucial role in feeding the nation and even more so during this global pandemic and it is vital they have our support.
“By extending the SAF deadline to June 15, we are giving farmers the time and space to focus on what is important now and still have time to claim.”
In response to concerns about crop diversification requirements following the recent flooding and the added pressure caused by Covid-19, the Welsh Government also confirmed a derogation of the three-crop rule.
The move has also seen an additional £5.5 million allocated to the BPS and Glastir 2019 loan support schemes, which will reopen to farmers who are yet to receive their payments.
Responding to the announcement (April 1), the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) president Glyn Roberts said: “We have been lobbying for these changes and interventions for some weeks now, so we welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to implement them.”
Mr Roberts added the FUW was in ‘daily discussions’ with the Government about further changes that may need to be introduced to ensure the industry and family farms remained stable in the future.
NFU Cymru combinable crops chairman Andrew Davies also welcomed the measures and claimed the derogation would be a ‘relief’ to many farmers who had been unable to plant crops as a result of extreme rainfall.
John Davies, NFU Cymru president similarly applauded the extension of the SAF deadline and the reopening of the BPS and Glastir 2019 schemes but warned Rural Payments Wales (RPW) must now ensure all outstanding payments to farmers are made in full at the ‘earliest opportunity’.
It came as Plaid Cymru’s North Welsh AM Llyr Gruffydd wrote to Ms Griffiths with concerns over how the Government intended to ensure dairy and meat businesses would continue to have ‘sufficient access’ to funds, in the event of a sudden coronavirus-related fall in revenue.
Mr Gruffydd also called on Government to commit to restructuring supply chains in the light of the recent change in demand and urged for a clearer approach on possible market intervention strategies.