A £20 million package for hill farmers in Wales is being promised by the Welsh Liberal Democrats if they are in power after the May 5 Assembly elections.
The pledge is included in the party’s election manifesto launched today (Monday, April 11) as one of three key priorities aimed at improving the industry’s resilience and competitiveness.
Top of the list is dedicated support for hill farming worth £20 million a year by way of an ‘Areas of Natural Constraint’ scheme.
Providing small-scale grants to enable farmers to diversify and reduce carbon emissions, and promoting share farming and succession planning to ensure the survival of the family farm are the two other main elements
The proposed hill farming support scheme is said to be worth around £20,687,000 each year or an average of the last four full years’ Tir Mynydd payments which were scrapped in 2012 and worth between £19.5m and £21.3m.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats are passionate about protecting Wales’ proud farming tradition,” says Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
“Farmers in Wales produce some of the greatest produce in the world, but too often they are not getting the support they need from an out-of-touch Labour Government.
“Every member state of the EU and each of the UK devolved administrations has some form of financial support for those who farm in difficult areas, all except here in Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats would end this unfair competitive disadvantage.”
Elizabeth Evans, Assembly candidate for Ceredigion, added: “These are ambitious proposals that will support farmers.
“Unlike Labour in Cardiff and the Tories in Westminster, we know what farmers need, having represented Welsh rural communities for over 100 years.
We recognise the struggle many face, with average farm business incomes being forecast to decrease by nearly 16 per cent.
“Labour and Plaid’s Glastir system has been a source of great confusion and frustration for many farmers. We will simplify the existing scheme and ensure farmers receive payments on time.
“We would also look to offer more small scale, accession grants for farmers to invest in animal welfare, reducing carbon emissions, and more efficient IT so they can increase diversity and profitability.”
William Powell, Assembly candidate for Mid and West Wales, said that more needed to be done to support and encourage young people to enter the farming industry.
“We will promote succession planning to combine the experience of the older generation with the energy of the younger generation. This will help drive business forward and encourage share farming to help young people get their foot on the farming ladder.”