Speaking before this afternoon's statement on CAP (Common Agriculture Policy), William Powell AM has urged the Welsh Government to introduce a dedicated scheme to support farms in Wales' most challenging areas.
This afternoon's CAP statement will announce the results of last year's payments consultation and has previously been touted as 'final decision' time by the Minister. As such it is expected that clarity will be given over the way in which the Welsh Government intends to implement the CAP during the 2014-2020 funding period.
In the past Welsh Uplands farmers (principally involved in the nationally significant lamb industry) have received additional CAP payments in line with the European Union's less-favoured area (LFA) definition. The Welsh Government stopped these payments in 2012.
William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Food, said:
"Time and time again the Minister has hinted that the Welsh Government would introduce a LFA equivalent scheme. Now is the time for action.
"It is essential that the Welsh Labour Government delivers a fair deal for farmers and does not place them at a competitive disadvantage. Every member state of the EU and the rest of the UK all have some kind of financial support for Less Favoured Areas. Everyone recognises how important this support is; I hope the Welsh Labour Government now does too.
"With over 80% of Welsh farmland designated 'less favourable' by the European Union, it is essential that the Welsh Government makes full use of the Union's new Areas of Natural Constraint category to support farmers working in those areas. Without such support, there are real fears over the future economic sustainability of the Welsh Lamb industry.
"Now that the Welsh Government have decided to modulate the full 15% of funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 of the CAP, it would be hard for the Welsh Labour Government to continue its policy of unilateral abandonment of our Upland farmers.
"Clearly the Welsh Government made a mistake when it chose to abandon dedicated uplands support under the previous LFA definition, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to pressure them into a much needed U-turn to correct their mistakes."