A Welsh Government plan to provide Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) loans if farmers do not receive their cash on day one of the payment window should be replicated in England, the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) has said.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said she was offering the loans, worth 90 per cent of a BPS claim, to Welsh farmers to ‘provide certainty’ on cashflow as Brexit approaches.
The BPS support scheme, which will be open to all Welsh businesses that opt-in if their claim is not ready on December 2 2019, has been welcomed by farm groups.
FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “This provides much-needed certainty for our farmers who are increasingly concerned about cash flow in the upcoming months as we approach our exit from the EU and the winter period.”
Mr Roberts did, however, reiterate previous concerns about Welsh Government plans to remove direct support after Brexit, saying they would ‘damage the economy, environment, landscape, language and culture’.
NFU Cymru president John Davies also supported the move, describing it as ‘very encouraging’ at a time when Welsh farmers are facing the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
In England, where the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has a poorer record on getting BPS cash out quickly, the TFA has called for a similar scheme to be rolled out.
The group’s chief executive George Dunn said: “We applaud the initiative of the Welsh Government to make this announcement now as it will provide some much-needed certainty to farmers in Wales in what is likely to be a very difficult back end to the year.
“We would certainly like to see the same applying in England, but not just for BPS. It should cover payments under Environmental and Countryside Stewardship given the difficulties experienced by participants in those schemes in being paid on time over the past few years.”
NFU deputy president Guy Smith said his priority was to ensure the RPA made all payments, whether BPS, environmental schemes or productivity grants, on time and accurately.
“In the case of BPS, we would rather see all monies in farm bank accounts within a few days of the window opening on December 1 rather than a flurry of work-around measures cobbled together because the system is not working properly,” he added.
“Now is the time for Defra to make sure farmers will not be kept waiting and wondering in what could be, in financial terms, a very hard winter.”