FUW welcomes BPS announcement but warns system must be developed - not scrapped

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed today’s (Monday, November 25) announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths that 75% of farmers (almost 12,000) will receive their full BPS 2019 payment on day one of the payment window, while businesses that do not receive their full payment, and have applied for the BPS Support scheme, will receive up to 90% of their BPS 2019 claim value.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We understand the Welsh Government has been under pressure due to preparations for Brexit and therefore welcome the fact that despite the challenges 75% of farmers will receive their BPS payment.

“The Minister’s decision to once again implement a loan scheme this year was also very welcome, and we have encouraged all our members to apply, and helped many thousands to do just that.

“I would also urge those farmers who have not applied for the BPS loan yet, to do so before the November 29 deadline,” he added.

Those who have applied for the BPS loan, worth around 90% of their estimated 2019 BPS payment, can expect their money to be with them from 9 December. 

Mr Roberts said that most of the money arriving in farm accounts through the BPS would go out in the coming weeks to other businesses which are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture, such as agricultural suppliers and vets, thereby supporting tens of thousands of Welsh livelihoods and businesses.

The Union President also welcomed the confirmation that the Welsh Government intended to extend the Basic Payment Scheme to 2021 - but warned of the dangers and disruption that could be seen if such direct support was abandoned in the future.

“Abandoning direct support that underpins safe, high-quality food production when our key competitors have no intention of doing the same would damage our economy, environment, landscape, language and culture.

Mr Roberts said that the Welsh Government’s excellent track-record over the past fifteen years of releasing a large percentage of direct payments on the first day of the payment window demonstrated how important it was to develop the current scheme and online system, which he described as second to none compared with others in the UK and EU.

“We have the opportunity to carefully develop the current system into something that delivers so much more without losing its core advantages.

“Changes which result in the loss of the current system, which is the envy of the rest of the UK, and its replacement with complex environmental contracts would be a massive own goal and a step backwards - not to mention immensely damaging for Welsh businesses.”