The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has slammed Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths after she branded their campaign to maintain direct payments ‘misleading’ in an open letter to all farmers.
The union described the move as an ‘unprecedented step’ given that the Welsh Government’s consultation on the future of post-Brexit policy is still open.
FUW members have been encouraged to sign campaign postcards which read: “I believe the proposal to replace the Basic Payment (‘single farm payment’) with an agri-environment/public goods scheme is wrong and should be completely rejected.”
The postcards, which will be sent to the Welsh Government, have not been well-received in Cardiff.
They list three reasons why direct payments should not be subjected to radical change.
Ms Griffiths said: “I am open to new ideas and this is a genuine consultation. But I am clear ‘business as usual’ is not an option.
“We need farmers to engage properly with us to help make this work, so the recent misleading FUW campaign is not helpful.”
Alongside her open letter, the Minister published a ‘myth buster’ document which contained ‘facts’ to counter FUW’s concerns set out on the postcard.
These ‘facts’ included claims such as: ‘The Basic Payment Scheme is insufficiently targeted to respond to the challenges of Brexit’ and ‘maintaining the Basic Payment Scheme does not help us compete because it does nothing to improve farm performance’.
FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “I reject the accusation that we have run a misleading campaign rather than one which reiterates genuine concerns, but I have written to the Cabinet Secretary asking for details of any claims she believes are misleading, as opposed to being different opinions.
“In my letter I have made it clear that views which differ from the Welsh Government’s cannot be described as ‘myths’.
“I have also listed a number of concerns and questions in relation to the Welsh Government’s proposals and asked for these to be answered.”