Rural payments: Government says AM ‘mistaken’ over delays

A row has broken out amid claims of ”significant delays” to cash subsidies for Anglesey farmers.

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth accused the Welsh Government of being ”too slow” in dealing with ”unacceptable” delays of up to five months by the Rural Payments Wales scheme.

But a Government spokesperson said the shadow finance minister for Plaid Cymru was ”mistaken” – and all but one claim on Anglesey had been paid.

Ahead of this week’s Anglesey Show, Mr ap Iorwerth said he raised concerns with ministers after meeting with farmers, union members and agents in recent months.

He warned the situation was becoming a ”crisis” – with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit also causing concern among the local agricultural community.

Mr ap Iorwerth quoted one rural agent, who claimed around £200,000 was still owed to recipients on the island.

He added: ”Cash flow is important to any business and where payments are delayed it can have a very real impact on day-to-day operations and business planning for Anglesey farmers.”

”The crisis is compounded by the fact that a no-deal Brexit appears to be ever more likely, which would have a devastating impact on farms and rural Wales in general, and farm businesses need to be on as firm a footing as possible as they head into this Brexit unknown.”

But a Welsh Government spokesperson told MônFM News on Thursday: ”Rhun ap Iorweth is mistaken. There are no delays to the Basic Payment Scheme for Anglesey farmers.”

”742 out of 743 claims have been paid – the one remaining claim applied for and received a loan in December.”

”We are determined to support farmers in every way we can so they can cope with the challenges ahead.”

The current system of directly-paid subsidies – the EU-funded basic payment scheme, based on how much land is used by farmers – is due to end in 2021.

The Welsh Government plans to replace it with annual payments on work done to improve the environment.

A consultation on the new payments continues until 30th October – but farming unions have called for that to be extended, warning that attention would be focused on the immediate impact of Brexit the following day.

Anglesey Agricultural Society

Both the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, and rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, visited the Anglesey Show on Wednesday as part of a three-day tour of agricultural shows across Wales.

Around 60,000 people attended the two-day event at the Mona showground, near Gwalchmai.

But this year’s show did not include an equestrian section. It follows a recent equine flu outbreak, which saw at least two cases confirmed in Anglesey and Gwynedd, and the cancellation of this year’s Caernarfon Show.

The Anglesey Agricultural Society, which has issued full refunds for all horse entries and stabling, said the rest of the show would go ahead as planned.

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