Tenants and family farms should be protected by capping future scheme payments at well below the 300,000 Euro rate which currently applies in Wales and by strengthening the active farmer rule, the chairman of the Farmers’ Union of Wales Tenants Committee has said.
Under current Common Agricultural Policy rules, EU Member States or regions have, since 2015, been able to voluntarily cap direct farm payments at 300,000 Euros.
Speaking after a meeting of the FUW Tenants committee, chairman David Williams said: “The FUW has supported the capping of payments since 2007, and was instrumental in securing the introduction of a 300,000 euro cap on Welsh direct payments in 2015 to maximise the amount of money going to typical family farms and those who make the greatest contribution to rural communities and the economy.”
England decided not to introduce such a payment cap, meaning individuals, companies or charities who own large areas of land in England can claim an unlimited Basic Payment.
The EU is now considering a reduction of payments over €60,000 and compulsory capping for all payments above €100,000 per farm after labour costs are taken into account.
“Under the proposals, the active farmer rule will be strengthened and Member States will have to ensure a higher level of support per hectare for small and medium-sized farms, as well as focussing on young and new entrants,” said Mr Williams.
“This marks a direction of travel fully supported by the FUW, and one Wales should be following after we leave the EU to protect tenant farmers and the Welsh family farm.”
Last week, FUW President Glyn Roberts told Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford at a members’ meeting in Aberystwyth that it “would be a complete travesty for our nation and devolution” if what is consulted on and brought forward in Wales does not echo the EU proposals of slashing the payment cap and focussing payments on working farms to ensure money is not moved from hard-working farming families “...to bodies, NGOs, companies or others who may well be based over the border” .
“The Welsh Government has acknowledged the particular problems that their original Brexit and our Land proposals represent for tenant farmers,” said Mr Williams.
“Capping payments, strengthening the active farmer rules and focussing on family farms, as Europe are doing, would go a long way towards addressing these problems,” he added.