NFU Cymru has called on Welsh Government to repurpose and redeploy resources from the Wales Rural Development Programme to support the farming industry through the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, NFU Cymru has highlighted the important role the Wales Rural Development Programme (RDP) can play in supporting the farming industry through the current crisis and has asked Welsh Government to urgently consider the repurposing and redeployment of RDP resources to help achieve this aim.
The request comes in light of the European Commission announcement earlier this week that a Covid-19 measure is to be included within the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The measure, designed to provide member states with a ‘ready-to-use’ solution, allows farmers to be supported with a one-off lump sum of up to €5,000.
NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “Farm businesses across Wales continue to be deeply affected by unprecedented levels of supply chain disruption. A package of support for farming is going to be vital if farmers are to continue in their vital role producing food for the nation through the crisis and beyond.
“Whilst we still await sight of the draft regulation, the announcement from the European Commission appears to provide member states with flexibility to provide support to farmers struggling with Covid-19-related impacts. We are aware that some RDP funding remains uncommitted. The delivery of some RDP projects designed to support the industry during normal times may also be challenged in the context of Covid-19 social distancing measures, or they may not be appropriate at this time of crisis. That is why we have called on Welsh Government to work with the industry and repurpose and redeploy the RDP to assist farm businesses with much needed aid.”
He added: “We want to be clear that, whilst the Covid-19 measure within the RDP may temporarily ease cashflow, in many instances this is unlikely to make up for the substantial losses farm businesses are incurring. We see this as part of a range of measures that need to be delivered by Welsh Government.
“In addition, NFU Cymru has asked that Welsh Government ring-fence for farming the 15% pillar transfer of approximately £45m announced last December for distribution to farm businesses as a top-up to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2020. We have also re-iterated our ask made last autumn that the additional £5.2 million per year for the next two years made as part of the UK Government’s response to the Lord Bew review is used as a top-up to the BPS.”