Today's decision by the Welsh Assembly's rural affairs minister to extend the Tir Mynydd land management scheme for a further two years while its replacement Glastir scheme is rolled out is recognition of the problems facing Welsh hill farmers, the Farmers' Union of Wales said.
"We welcome Elin Jones's announcement as a small step in the right direction and some consolation to farmers who will be facing considerable cashflow problems during the next few years. However, fundamental concerns remain over the scheme's implementation," said chairman of the FUW's land use committee Richard Vaughan.
The Minister told the Assembly's rural development sub committee all farmers who make a Tir Mynydd claim on their 2010 Single Application Form (SAF) will be able to claim 60% of the payment on their 2011 SAF and 30% on their 2012 SAF.
Any eligible farmer who has not made a Tir Mynydd claim on their 2010 SAF and who has already submitted it to the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is encouraged to contact their Divisional Office as soon as possible, and by no later than 17 May 2010, to modify their SAF application if they wish to benefit from the increased support.
The Minister also paid tribute to the contributions from the FUW and other stakeholders who provided solutions to a range of issues relating to commons and Glastir on the recently established commons working group.
She said: "The group, working closely with my officials over recent weeks, has resolved the remaining difficulties associated with commons entry into Glastir. This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when interested parties work together with a positive attitude and towards a shared goal."
But FUW common land committee chairman Lorraine Howells claimed that the minister's comments relating to common land were extremely misleading.
"We fully acknowledge the work of the minister and WAG staff in taking account of the many issues we have raised with them in relation to common land and Glastir, and progress has certainly been made in terms of many of these.
"However, there remain a number of problems in relation to which solutions still need to be found, and I certainly do not agree with the minister that we have 'resolved the remaining difficulties'," said Miss Howells.
"On the contrary, we maintain that the complexity of some issues relating to common land, coupled with the importance of commons to Wales, justifies delaying implementation of the Glastir scheme and an extension to the Tir Mynydd Scheme by at least twelve months."