THE FARMERS’ Union of Wales is urging the Welsh Government to look beyond the current CAP and undertake work early on to identify priorities and options which best suit Wales’ agricultural industry. The FUW stresses that early discussions are essential in order to feed into discussions at an EU level and help shape the next CAP. In light of this the union believes that concerns over whether the UK will remain a part of the EU should not be used to justify procrastination, not least since such work may also inform policies should exit from the EU become inevitable.
Reiterating a key message from the FUW manifesto, FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “Over the past five years both the European Commission and the Welsh Government have, it is hoped, learned important lessons in terms of planning for the future.” The European Commission (EC) failed to secure agreement for its proposed reforms in time to implement the scheme in 2014, while the complexity of the regulations finally passed meant the new Commissioner – Phil Hogan – had little choice but to make CAP simplification an immediate priority. Despite the twelve month delay to the CAP implementation date, the Welsh Government’s failure to heed the FUW’s warnings by preparing for the new CAP early on led to two legal challenges and limited options in terms of the final payment models which could be practically implemented in Wales. “As such, we are left with an imperfect Welsh Basic Payment Scheme which fails to meet the key aspirations agreed by government and industry, and costly levels of bureaucracy which contradict the original principles agreed by the European Commission and Parliament,” added Glyn Roberts.
The clear lesson for the EC is that, in light of co-decision making, it is essential that discussions on the priorities and options available under the next CAP must be started early – a concern already raised by the FUW with Commissioner Hogan. A key message in the FUW’s 2016 Welsh Assembly election manifesto, which should be heeded, are the strong believes that the incoming Welsh Government should undertake detailed work to examine the possible outcomes of adopting a broad range of Welsh basic payment models post 2020, undertake mapping work in order to identify those areas which might be used as the basis for future payment models and investigate the benefits or otherwise of multi-tiered payment systems akin to the Redistributive and Tir Mynydd models in order to feed in to discussions at an EU level.