NFU Cymru’s Rural Affairs Board has expressed its “dissatisfaction” over the Welsh Government’s ’very slow’ implementation of the new Wales Rural Development Programme (RDP) which received approval from the EU back in May 2015.
Board members say they are also disappointed that the first Expression of Interest window for the new Sustainable Production Grant Scheme appears to have supported very low numbers of farmers across Wales.
“It is now two years since the Welsh Government’s decision to transfer the maximum 15 per cent amount possible from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 in Wales – a decision unique in Europe,” says Rural Affairs Board chairman, Hedd Pugh.
“While we understand there were some delays in getting the RDP signed-off with the European Commission, the lack of progress with the roll-out of schemes to support the development of the farming industry has at the very least been most frustrating.
“This is even more concerning given the challenging market conditions experienced by all sectors of the industry during the past 12 months.
“We have been a strong advocate of the investment measures within the RDP as a means to equip the industry with the latest technologies, equipment and facilities and while we welcome the fact that the first round of sustainable production grants applicants have now progressed to the full application stage, the numbers of farmers involved is very small.
“There are now fears that the scheme and the wider RDP will offer support to very limited numbers of farmers despite the fact that all farmers have contributed to the fund via the Pillar transfer,” added Mr Pugh.
“It is vital the Welsh Government now presses ahead and announces the dates of the next Expression of Interest window for the Sustainable Production Grant Scheme which must be better resourced than the previous window.
“It should also be supported by the implementation of a Small Grants Scheme without delay.
“That would allow many farmers in Wales to make multiple applications for smaller scale investments in the latest technologies and equipment to improve their business and technical performance.”