NFU Cymru has welcomed the news today from the Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, of the intention for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to continue unchanged in 2021, subject to the Welsh Government continuing to receive sufficient levels of agricultural funding from the next UK Government.
The union said that the announcement from the Minister will provide comfort and reassurance to the industry at a time of ongoing uncertainty and the continued threat of a ‘No deal’ Brexit that would have catastrophic implications for Welsh farming.
NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “At our meeting with the Minister in October I asked the Minister to commit to maintaining the BPS unchanged for 2021, a request that was repeated in our response to the Sustainable Farming and Our Land consultation and at the NFU Cymru annual conference in Llandrindod Wells earlier this month. I am delighted that the Minister has made an early announcement that gives comfort and reassurance not just to Welsh farmers, but to all the thousands of businesses that rely on farming for so much of their income.
“We fully respect that the General Election means that the Minister does not yet have any guarantees from Westminster as to future funding for Wales, but I am pleased that both the First Minister and the Rural Affairs Minister have previously made it clear that they intend to ringfence funding for Welsh farming. A key ask in our General Election manifesto is for the next UK Government to commit to a multi annual financial framework that maintains existing levels of investment for farming for all parts of the UK. We believe this is crucial to help Welsh farming remain competitive and to continue to produce food to the highest standards, whilst maintaining our environmental obligations and meeting our aspiration for net zero climate change emissions by 2040.
“The decision to maintain the BPS 2021 allows for proper consideration of a new farming policy, time to model, pilot and fully assess the impact of any changes. This decision also allows the time for the government to work in partnership with NFU Cymru, and others, on the design and implementation of a future farming policy for Wales. Transition should only commence when it is clear that replacement scheme(s) can deliver at least the same level of stability for farming businesses, the food supply chain and rural communities that is currently provided by the BPS.
“I am pleased that over 75% of farmers will receive their full BPS 2019 on the first day of the payment window (December 2nd). With average farm incomes having fallen by 15% in the year to March 2019, beef prices at unsustainable low levels and the recent wet weather delaying sowing of many arable crops this news will be welcome. Whilst this level of performance is below what we have come to expect from Welsh Government I welcome the fact that the BPS support scheme will be in operation again this year to provide the opportunity for farmers not paid their full BPS to receive up to 90% of their BPS claim value on the 9th December. I would urge farmers who haven’t yet applied for the support scheme to do so before the 29th November deadline.
“I would like to thank the staff of RPW for their hard work in helping to ensure that claimants will have the opportunity to receive all or the vast majority of their BPS claim in early December. The RPW Online system has proven to be a robust and reliable system, designed in partnership with industry. NFU Cymru firmly believes that future farming policy should occur through a process of evolution building on the established RPW Online application and delivery mechanism.”