Speaking at today’s (Tuesday, September 30) NFU Cymru council meeting in Cardiff, union president, Stephen James, said: “It has been our long-held view that the industry must be supported by the introduction of a dedicated ANC scheme for the uplands — one which allows payments to farmers to reflect the additional costs of farming in these naturally disadvantaged areas.
“The Welsh Government’s decision is particularly disappointing as we have just returned from Brussels, where we learned that many other Member States are taking forward this measure to support their upland farming sectors.
“The decision also flies in the face of the comprehensive evidence base and clear recommendation for a dedicated scheme put forward by the Uplands Forum in its report ‘Unlocking the potential of the Uplands’.
“Proposals for the Welsh uplands as they currently stand are flawed and the impacts will be felt by farmers across Wales,” added Mr James.
“The EU regulation allows Member States to differentiate the level of ANC payment taking into account the farming system and we would ask why the Welsh Government has not considered how this flexibility could be deployed to target upland support.
“Rather than dedicate a proportion of the Rural Development Programme budget currently allocated to land based measures to an ANC Scheme as NFU Cymru has argued for, the Welsh Government appears to be proposing to prioritise elements relating to young farmers and capital investment to upland areas.
“This is not the right way to go. Projects of this type should be assessed on their individual merits regardless of location.
“We have long argued that the two CAP Pillars should be used in a complementary way and the RDP offers the opportunity to put in place a wide range of measures to support and enhance competitiveness and farm viability across Wales.
“The failure of the Welsh Government to adopt a ‘right measure-right location’ approach can only serve to limit the impact and effectiveness of RDP measures overall.
“This is particularly so in upland areas where agriculture has to be viable to deliver the wide range of environmental, social and cultural benefits that society expects.”