Farmers face 'unacceptable' government payment delays

Stephen James, NFU Cymru president, said the delays were 'unacceptable'
Image caption Stephen James, NFU Cymru president, said the delays were 'unacceptable'

Hundreds of farmers are facing long delays on payments owed to them by the Welsh Government, it has been claimed.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) Cymru said patience was now "running thin".

Payments from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) agricultural fund for 'protecting and enhancing the countryside' have been delayed by up to five months.

The Welsh Government insisted 95% of eligible farmers had been paid, but Conwy farmer Llyr Jones said he was "disgusted".

He said he had to take out a bank loan to make up for the loss of income, and had been given no explanation for the delay.

"It has been a strain. I've had to increase my overdraft in order to be able to carry on with my business," he said.

"My situation hasn't changed - I haven't changed the size of my farm and I haven't bought any more land."

Struggling farmers

Some cross-border farmers have faced delays as a result of the failure of English paying agencies to share data.

Stephen James, NFU Cymru President, said many farmers were now entering the 2016 application period before receiving their 2015 payment.

"This is unacceptable. For those not paid, Welsh Government will now have had the 2015 application form for nearly 11 months. Surely this is long enough to validate an application form?

"Farmers are struggling following a difficult winter, costs have mounted as a result of record rainfall and commodity prices remain depressed, meaning cash flow is a major issue on all farms."

Payments from the Glastir sustainable land management scheme have also been delayed by up to six months.

"Many farmers who will have changed farming practices and altered stocking levels in order to enter Glastir are now, in effect, being penalised as a result of a failure of Welsh Government delivery," Mr James said.

"We look to Welsh Government to bring this long-running saga to a swift conclusion."

'Vast majority'

A Welsh Government spokesman said it could not discuss individual cases, but said the vast majority of eligible Welsh farmers had received the first part of the payment.

"We have now made substantial part-payments to 95% of eligible farm businesses in Wales," the spokesman said.

"Approximately half those farmers still awaiting their part-payment have land in England. Although we are sharing our data with the rural payments agency (RPA) in England, we are unable to pay those specific cross-border cases until the RPA provide us with the information we require."

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