Around half of Welsh farmers who applied for Glastir payments for works and commitments carried out in 2019 were still waiting for their money at the beginning of May, prompting concern about how the planned environmental post-Brexit scheme in Wales will function.
The late payments, due to 47 per cent of applicants to the main agri-environment scheme, Glastir Entry/Advanced, are worth £11.6m to farmers.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has warned Welsh Government’s poor performance in getting cash out to fewer than 3,000 Glastir contract holders does not bode well for the post-Brexit Sustainable Farming Scheme, which is similar in nature.
Another £2.5m is still owed to farmers participating in other Glastir schemes, such as Glastir Commons and Glastir Organic.
FUW head of policy Dr Nick Fenwick said: “Aside from huge concerns about the dire impact of replacing what we have with an environmental scheme based on public goods, the proposal to do this through a labour-intensive process of ‘outreach’ meetings, one-to-one farm sustainability reviews and the drafting of complex, bespoke multi-annual contracts adds to farmers’ woes.
“The proposed process is basically a copy of the Glastir application process introduced almost a decade ago, and given that a massive percentage of just a few thousand Glastir payments remain outstanding in May, the suggestion that perhaps 20,000 or more bespoke Glastir-type contracts will replace all Welsh schemes is really worrying.”
Welsh Government has a good track record in getting Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) cash out on time.
By the end of January, on average, more than 90 per cent of the 16,000 Welsh claims are paid.
FUW described the BPS system as ‘state-of-the-art’ and ‘second to none in the UK’, and said replacing it would be a ‘gross backward step’.