Farming subsidies: Minister pledges 'transparent and fair' system

Farmer Gareth Wyn Jones
Image caption Hill farmers saw subsidies cut and lost stock to heavy snow

Wales' agriculture minister says he wants to create a "transparent and fair" system of farming subsidies.

Alun Davies said payments need to strike a balance between supporting farmers in different parts of Wales, whether on the hills or the lowlands.

He will make a statement on reforms to the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) this week.

Mr Davies has been under fire from hill farmers after one of their subsidies ceased.

The Tir Mynydd payments were paid to upland farmers who face the most challenging conditions in what are known as less favoured areas (LFAs).

Farmers received the payment for the last time in spring 2012.

Harsh conditions in the spring this year - the first without Tir Mynydd - saw farmers lose stock to heavy snow.

'Very difficult balance'

Farmers say the LFA subsidy stopped at the worst possible time as they struggled to deal with rising costs caused by the weather.

Natural Resources and Food Minister Mr Davies told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales that subsidies had to be fair to farmers on the lowlands "and the heights of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia".

"Now that is a very, very difficult balance to get right," he said.

"Because if we do move money up into the uplands then we are going to be moving it from the lowlands and so we have to be fair about how we do that and we have to be clear about why we are doing that as well.

"We need to design a payments system that's transparent and fair. Fair for people in the hills, but also fair for people who aren't in the hills.

"Whatever system we have we want to minimise the winners and losers, to minimise the disruption."

He added: "I've spent the last 18 months going back and fore to Luxembourg, Brussels, Strasbourg arguing the case for Welsh agriculture, standing up for Welsh farmers.

"We've been doing that month after month after month and we have achieved a deal which I believe provides us with the opportunity in Wales to design a new payments structure that is fair to farmers across the whole of Wales."


Political opponents say cancelling Tir Mynydd put Welsh farmers at a disadvantage to the rest of the UK where LFA payments continued this year.

Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Kirsty Williams said: "We need clarity from the minister about what he intends to do about this situation.

"If he feels that they've got it wrong in 2013 they need to admit that and they need to come forward quickly with an alternative plan.

"Farms are businesses - they need stability and they need to be able to plan.

"Without a clear direction from the Welsh government about what support is available I fear that for some farmers and businesses it may be too late."

The Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales on Sunday 7 July at 11:00 BST

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