The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) and NFU Cymru have responded very differently to the Welsh Government’s plans to help farmers cope with the effects of this summer’s dry weather.
In a written statement released today, Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths said she would make emergency loans available for the 10 per cent of farmers who are not expected to receive their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) cash in December.
In Scotland, loans will be made available to farmers from early October.
NFU Cymru welcomed the move, saying it would ‘add another level of support’ for farmers planning for the winter ahead.
President John Davies said: “The introduction of a loan scheme for the first time in Wales will help those whose BPS payment claims are still to be validated.
“It is essential that the application process for a loan is as simple as possible for those holdings who find themselves in this situation.”
But FUW slammed the Welsh Government, branding its response ‘out of touch’.
President Glyn Roberts said: “Ironically, Scottish Labour criticised the Scottish Government for being slow to confirm loans would be available in October for farmers unable to buy fodder and feed following a disastrous harvest, and for not going far enough.
“Yet in Wales, where Labour are in power, the Welsh Government propose going nowhere near as far as what is proposed in Scotland.”
Mr Roberts also expressed concerns that the early release of payments elsewhere in the EU and UK would lead to desperately needed fodder and bedding being taken off the British market from October and possibly stockpiled in other countries, leaving Welsh farmers unable to compete.
“There is a real risk that by the time Welsh payments or loans become available, earlier payments or loans in other countries will have removed vital fodder from the market and driven up prices,” he said.
The Welsh Conservatives have criticised the decision too, with agriculture spokesman Andrew RT Davies calling on Ms Griffiths to reconsider.