THE Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has re-launched its call for action on payment capping.

The union has supported the capping of direct agricultural payments, after farm employee wages and other factors are taken into account, since 2007, on the grounds that this maximises the amount of money going to typical Welsh family farms and rural communities.

Speaking from the Royal Welsh Winter Fair showground, FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “In 2015 the Welsh Government introduced reductions for higher farm payments and an ultimate limit on the amount a farmer could claim through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) - a system known as payment capping.

“Also introduced in 2015 was a ‘redistributive payment’ system which reduces payments for farms with larger areas and increases the amount of money small and medium sized farms receive - an approach that benefits the vast majority of Wales’ family farms.”

Mr Roberts added that the Welsh Government has refused to commit to maintaining any form of payment cap or redistributive payment system, raising concerns that the future schemes will lead to money being taken away from hard working family farms and given to large landowners and charities - or even people based outside Wales.

“If coupled with a weakening of the current ‘active farmer’ eligibility criteria - a system that favours real farmers rather than absentee landowners - this would make matters worse, by taking away even more money from farming families and rural communities,” he said.

Other countries within the UK, the FUW has highlighted, have no such systems, meaning there is no limit to the amount of money that can be claimed by large landowners, and no specific focus on providing funding for the family farms that make the greatest contributions to our communities.

“Meanwhile, the EU is reforming policies in order to encourage payment capping and introduce redistributive payments to better address the income needs of smaller and medium-sized farms.

“Failure to continue and reinforce the current capping and redistributive system would be a backwards step for Welsh society,” said Mr Roberts.

“We are therefore encouraging members to write to their Members of the Senedd to urge the Welsh Government to ensure a future payment scheme includes both capping and redistributive payment systems alongside rigorous active farmer criteria in order to protect and enhance the small and medium sized family farms that make up the vast majority of Welsh farm businesses.”