Welsh farmers need RDP clarification – NFU Cymru

Urgent clarification is being sought over the deployment of Wales Rural Development Programme (RDP) funding, according to the Welsh National Farmers’ Union (NFU Cymru).

NFU Cymru president John Davies has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, asking to shed some light on the matter.

In the letter, the NFU Cymru president stressed his concerns that, with only six months until the UK leaves the European Union, and many farmers in Wales seeing their Glastir contracts coming to an end in the coming months, “time is running out to maximise the opportunity to deploy RDP funds”.

Davies also used the letter to underline the importance of RDP funds to the vitality of farm businesses across the country, and in turn, the economic, social and cultural well-being of Wales.

In his letter, Davies stated: “Many farmers across Wales now have a very long track record of environmental delivery, having been participants in agri-environment schemes for approaching 25 years.

“Given that there can be no realistic prospect of the new public goods approach being piloted and fully operational by 1st January 2020, we believe offering extensions to these contracts would appear logical.”

He said that extensions would secure both the continued delivery of environment outcomes as well as providing farm businesses with some much-needed certainty at a time of profound change.

We understand that the so-called Treasury Guarantee provides assurances to managing authorities and beneficiaries that projects approved up to the point of our departure from the EU will be assured.

“Given the fact that we are now just some six months away, and given the complexity of the application process for many of the RDP schemes together with the length of time that it appears to be taking to get final approval, we are concerned that we are running out of time to maximise the opportunity to deploy RDP funds.

“It would be very concerning to us and a matter of extreme disappointment if 100% spend was not achieved in this current RDP programming period given the relative importance of the RDP programme to farmers in Wales compared to their UK and EU counterparts as a result of the unique maximum pillar transfer decision taken in late 2013.”

Davies ended the letter by urging the cabinet secretary to clarify whether there is a requirement to commit funds to policy measures or to individual projects to secure the assurances provided under the Treasury Guarantee.

He also asked the cabinet secretary to clarify whether extensions to Glastir contracts will need to be secured by the end of March 2019.