“If we say we will do nothing, and simply rely on diminishing resource, we cannot take care of the future or invest in the future,” said Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, at a recent Glamorgan NFU Cymru county conference.
During his speech at the well-attended event, Alun Davies explained his decision to transfer 15% from Pillar 1 (single farm payments) to Pillar 2 (Rural Development Programme). He said, “It is inevitable that there is going to be an erosion of CAP funding year on year and we can’t stand by and do nothing. I propose to make sure sufficient funds are available to the industry through Pillar 2 to invest in its future. The alternative is to focus on today and not tomorrow – and that would be an irresponsible approach.“Too many businesses are reliant on Pillar 1 support and not on the production of agricultural output or other farm income. The farming community receives 100% of Pillar 1 payments and 80% of Pillar 2 resources and we will continue to invest at these levels. Welsh Government will also be co-financing Pillar 2 above the legal minimum set out by the EU, so that over £300 million will also be going into the new Rural Development Programme, making it the biggest ever in Wales.”The Minister went on to talk about the review into Glastir which was put out to consultation that day, he said, “We will make it easier for upland farms to go straight into the advanced scheme for Glastir, we will also make it a part farm scheme and ensure it is more accessible to a greater number of farmers, particularly in the upland areas.In his response, Ed Bailey, NFU Cymru President said, “The Minister has repeatedly used the word ‘resilience’ in his speech this evening and everyone agrees with the need for this, however, taking 15% from Pillar 1 payments will, in my view, reduce Welsh farmers’ resilience, because it makes it more difficult to compete against our UK counterparts who have chosen to transfer either a smaller percentage, or in Northern Ireland’s case, 0% of Pillar 1 funding.“The Minister has also talked about fragile businesses, but I ask, why are these businesses fragile? Is it inefficiency as he implies, or is it a reflection of the land they farm, or low historic single farm payments? I ask the Minister to take these concerns away with him and to think further about the impact his actions will have on the industry, when drawing up the Rural Development Plan for Wales. For our part, we now have to put forward plans and measures that will ensure that this money can be accessed by farmers.”Andrew Edwards, retiring Glamorgan NFU Cymru county Chairman, closed the meeting by thanking members and staff for their continued support over the last two years and wished Abi Reader, his successor all the best in her new role. Andrew also thanked HSBC bank for their kind sponsorship of the event.