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William Powell AM welcomes Welsh Government move on supporting the Welsh Uplands

July 3, 2013 4:06 PM

WPWilliam Powell AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Rural Affairs, has welcomed the move by the Welsh Government to look again at offering specific help to the Welsh Uplands under the EU's new Areas of Natural Constraint definition.

William Powell AM, Welsh Lib Dem for Mid and West Wales, said:

"It has been obvious for some time that the Welsh Government's decision to unilaterally abandon LFA payments is extremely damaging to the economic sustainability of the Welsh Uplands.

"As such I welcome the commitment of the Welsh Government to use the new designation of Areas of Natural Constraint to help address the unique challenges faced by current LFA farms. However, we must remain cautious. So far the Welsh Government has offered us very little detail on its plans.

"This afternoon I will use Assembly time to ask the Minister to further detail the potential of Areas of Natural Constraint to support upland farms. I very much hope we can take the matter forward in time for the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show later this month."

NFU Cymru LFA Board Chairman John Owen said:

"I very much welcome the acknowledgement by the Welsh Government of the twin economic and environmental challenges faced by farmers operating in the LFA.

"The particular difficulties facing our LFA farmers have, to my mind, never been more apparent than they were earlier this year when rocketing input costs, combined with some of the worst weather we have seen in many years left so many LFA farmers struggling to survive.

"With the ending of Tir Mynydd in March 2012, there is now no dedicated support scheme for Wales' hill and upland farmers.

"I would therefore be very interested to know more about the Welsh Government's commitment to help address the unique challenges faced by farmers operating in Wales' LFA/Areas of Natural Constraint.

"NFU Cymru would very much like to see the Welsh Government acknowledge the difficulties of hill and upland farming by re-instating a support scheme under the Wales Rural Development Plan."

Notes

• William Powell AM statement 5th June, 2013: http://williampowell.org.uk/en/article/2013/694375/welsh-labour-government-policy-failing-the-welsh-uplands

• First Minister's Questions 18th June, 2013:

Kirsty Williams

First Minister, Governments in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland all have specific schemes to support farmers operating in hills and upland areas. Why is Wales the only home nation where no such support is available?

First Minister, last week, you said that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs did not care about English hill farmers. You said that it only cared about large arable farms. Why then does DEFRA think that English upland farmers deserve extra support, while you have decided to put Welsh farmers at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the EU?

There is no reason at all why a scheme to support hill farmers cannot be implemented in Wales. Will you commit today, First Minister, to implementing a scheme to support a stronger rural economy and end Wales's unenviable position as the only nation in the United Kingdom not to support hill and upland farmers?