Farmers could see EU subsidy cuts, minister warns

Image caption Hill farmers claim the ten-fold difference in subsidy payments is dividing communities

Some Welsh farmers could see EU cash cut after upland farmers won a legal challenge, the deputy farming minister has warned.

Those farming the highest hills in Wales were being offered ten times less in subsidy payments than those on lower slopes and moors.

But as subsidy budgets are fixed "some redistribution" of the money is now inevitable, warned Rebecca Evans.

She said options were being drawn up for debate later in January.

The Welsh government's stance was formally quashed by the courts in December following a challenge by a Welsh farmers' campaign group, Fairness for the Uplands (FFTU).

While the farming money comes from the EU, the rules on how it is allocated in Wales were drawn up by the Welsh government.

Under the original agreement, the Welsh government ruled that land above the 400m (1,300ft) line was worth £16-a-hectare or €20 in EU subsidies to farmers, while below the line land was worth £160 or €200 a hectare.

According to FFTU, about 300 hill farmers out of 15,000 in Wales were affected by the ruling.

Ms Evans said in a statement on Monday that it was "inevitable that this revised situation will result in change to the payments that farmers might have expected in the years ahead".

Options will be presented to union leaders and countryside organisations later in January.

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