Farmers with land on both sides of the England-Wales border have been left facing extreme financial hardship as a result of late farm payments.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) hosted a cross-party group meeting with Welsh Assembly members and senior officials from Rural Payment Wales (RPW) and England’s Rural Payments Agency (RPA) amid concerns cross-border farmers were not only being put under pressure, but also at a competitive disadvantage.
FUW Montgomeryshire county executive officer Emyr Davies said farmers with land straddling the border had limited ability to make the most of lower market prices and were being forced to borrow money and pay additional interest on loans.
“The Wales-England border is three times the length of the Scotland-England border and there are around 500 Wales-England cross-border farms”, he added.
“Such farms have to deal with additional complexity in terms of different sets of rules either side of the border, including different animal movement rules, different reporting systems and different environmental rules.
“Payments to these families are regularly delayed by months, placing them at a significant disadvantage compared with those who are paid within acceptable timescales.”
Paul Caldwell, chief executive at the RPA, acknowledged there had been some difficulties, but promised the organisation was making improvements.
He said discussions were now being held with other payment agencies earlier, that English entitlement values were being calculated sooner and the system was being reformed to make the process of data transfer smoother.
Mr Davies said he welcomed the commitments given by the RPA to minimise delays.