The Welsh Government’s announcement that the basic payment date will not be brought forward and emergency loans will not be made available until December suggests the Welsh Government is out of touch with the implications for farmers of the severe weather experienced over the past 12 months.
That was the view of the FUW after the Welsh Government released a written statement on Thursday (August 24), confirming it would not follow the Scottish Government’s lead and make loans available from early October.
Instead, it plans to make no change to the usual December basic payment date, and only offer loans for the five to ten percent of farmers who will not receive payments by that date.
FUW President Glyn Roberts said:
“Ironically, Scottish Labour criticised the Scottish Government for being slow to confirm loans would be available in October for farmers unable to afford to buy fodder and feed following a disastrous harvest – and for not going far enough.
“Yet in Wales, where Labour are in power, the Welsh Government propose going nowhere near as far as what is proposed in Scotland.”
Mr Roberts said that he was concerned that the release of early loans and payments in other parts of the UK and in Ireland and other parts of the EU would lead to desperately needed fodder and bedding being taken off the UK market from October and possibly even stockpiled by farmers in other countries, while Welsh farmers would be left waiting for payments and therefore unable to compete.
“Given the disastrous harvest here in Wales and across the EU, there is a real risk that by the time Welsh payments or loans become available, earlier payments or loans in other countries will have removed vital fodder from the market and driven up prices.
“The delay in arranging the emergency weather summit we requested in early July, and this decision, raises real concerns that the Welsh Government is just out of touch with how serious the implications of the weather are – despite our regular correspondence and updates since May.”
Mr Roberts said that while Scotland had announced early loans for farmers, the EU had passed emergency measures relating to a host of regulations and to allow governments to take early action.
“By contrast, the Welsh Government’s reaction seems positively laid back.”