Ongoing discussions around the implementation of CAP reform in Wales suggest designating farmland above the moorland line as an Area of Natural Constraint (ANC) could provide a much needed lifeline for upland farmers, say the National Sheep Association’s Cymru/Wales Region.
Helen Davies, NSA Cymru/Wales Regional Development Officer, says: “During discussions at a Wales Rural Development Programme 2014 -2020 meeting last week it became clear that the Welsh Government would consider an ANC approach using RDP funding streams if they can agree an appropriate approach with the European Commission.
“With the absence of Tir Mynydd and the precarious nature of farming in upland areas, NSA Cymru/Wales would be in agreement with this and urges the Welsh Government to use ANCs as a tool to support fragile farming communities. Using ANCs to provide support to upland farms who will otherwise only receive £20 per hectare for moorland will ensure those businesses survive, which is vital given the many public goods they provide over and above their farming activities. It will also attract young people who will manage this landscape into the future.”
The ANC approach is an option available to all EU member states to recognise areas that are seriously constrained by natural conditions, such as climate and topography, but which are crucial to the ongoing management of the land, its wildlife and ecology, as well as to isolated communities and their economies. The Welsh Government is currently consulting on how the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) will run from January 2015 to the end of 2020, including the option for designating ANCS.
Mrs Davies continues: “The proposals within the consultation outline how the Welsh Government intends to spend £953 million allocated to Pillar Two of the Common Agricultural Policy between 2014 and 2020. NSA Cymru/Wales asks any farmers wishing to share their views to contact us soon as they can input to their opinions on the future of RDP. We are very interested to receive comment from all sheep farmers in Wales and utilise them as we formulate our response to the consultation, which must be sent to the Welsh Government by Friday 11th April. Farmers can also respond to the consultation themselves via the Welsh Government website.”