'Shameful': Welsh govt criticised for silence on payment capping

Welsh farmers are asking for payments to be capped at levels which favour family farms
Welsh farmers are asking for payments to be capped at levels which favour family farms

The failure of the Welsh government to look at the issue of farm payment capping has been slammed as 'shameful' by a Ceredigion sheep farmer.

Most farmers in Wales have supported the capping of farm payments in response to consultations over the past two decades.

A limit on the amount of direct payments a farm business in Wales can receive was introduced in 2015 by then farming minister Alun Davies.

But Ceredigion sheep producer Anwen Hughes has raised concerns that a 'regressive move away' from this policy is being considered by Welsh government.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has highlighted this issue as one of its ten key manifesto asks ahead of the 6 May Senedd election.

The union called on the next Welsh government to “ensure payments are capped at levels which favour family farms and prevent money flowing from businesses which support rural communities and economic activity to large landowners, big business and landowning charities.”

Ms Hughes, who farms 138 acres outside of Aberaeron, accused the Welsh government of being 'largely silent' on the issue, suggesting it was 'shying away' from the issue.

She said: “This, coupled with the proposal to base payments solely on the delivery of ‘public goods’ risks moving money from actively working family farms to large landowners, big business and landowning charities who are not producing food."

It comes as the European Commission is proposing a reduction on the share of direct payments received by EU farmers above €60,000 per farm.

It is also looking at setting a limit of €100,000 per farm after labour costs have been taken into account - a position backed by the European Parliament during the negotiations with the EU ministers.

Higher levels of support per hectare for small farms are also proposed in the bloc, with both this and the topic of payment capping given a high profile in CAP reform proposals.

Ms Hughes added: “By contrast, the Welsh government has been largely silent on the issue of capping payments, suggesting it is shying away from the issue and considering a U-turn.

"In response to the 2018 and 2019 consultations on future payments the FUW stressed the importance of a payment cap which is below the current level that takes full account of labour costs, in order to maximise the amount of money going to family farms."