Emergency measures to support farmers during Covid-19 unveiled
A series of emergency measures to support Welsh farmers during the Covid-19 outbreak, recognising the crucial role they play in feeding the nation, have today [1 April] been announced by Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.
In recognition of the challenges facing the sector as a result of Covid-19 and during what is normally a busy time of year anyway, the Minister has confirmed farmers will have an extra month to submit their Single Application Form (SAF), with the deadline now extended to 15 June.
In response to concerns about Crop Diversification requirements following the recent flooding and the added pressure and uncertainties Covid-19 brings, the Welsh Government has also confirmed it is removing the requirements completely for BPS 2020.
An additional £5.5m has been allocated to the BPS and Glastir 2019 support scheme which will re-open from today to support those farmers who are yet to receive their 2019 BPS and/or Glastir payments. Farmers will be able to apply for support through the scheme to alleviate potential cash flow problems.
The Minister has today also written to farming unions to thank them and their members for their work ensuring the continuation of the food supply chain.
Earlier this week, a new FarmWell Wales resource was launched with useful information and advice to help keep farm businesses and farmers resilient and plan positively for the future.
The Minister said: “We are facing a global pandemic the like of which we have not seen in peacetime. This is a worrying time for all families across Wales, especially in our rural and farming communities.
“Our farmers play a crucial role in feeding the nation and even more so during this global pandemic and it is vital they have our support. That is why I am today announcing a range of measures to support our farmers and help them continue to fulfil this role
“By extending the SAF deadline to 15 June, we are giving farmers the time and space to focus on what’s important now and still have time to claim. We have also listened to feedback from the farming unions and we are removing Crop Diversification requirements completely for BPS 2020.
“Finally, we have re-opened the BPS and Glastir 2019 support scheme so farmers who are still waiting for 2019 payments will be able to alleviate increasing cash-flow pressures by applying for the support scheme.
“I would like to sincerely thank farmers and everyone else in the supply chain for the heroic job you are doing ensuring food gets on Welsh plates. The situation we face is unprecedented but we will do all we can to continue supporting our valued rural communities across Wales. The measures I have announced today will help our farmers keep doing the great work they do and help the sector during this difficult time.”
Notes to editors
For further information on the Single Application Form Rules Booklet please visit: https://gov.wales/single-application-form-saf-2020-rules-booklet
Farmers who are entitled to a BPS payment must observe on all their eligible land the agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment, including Crop Diversification. On eligible arable land between 10 and 30 hectares in size, farmers are required to grow two different crops. The main crop may not exceed 75% of the land. If the eligible arable land is larger than 30 hectares in size, three crops must be grown, the main crop, again, may not exceed 75%.
The crop diversification cultivation period is between 1 May and 15 July. These requirements will now be removed in Wales for BPS 2020.
On BPS and Glastir 2019 support scheme, RPW will contact those who are eligible to apply directly. The new window for applications is open until 17 April 2020. Loan payments will be made, and farm businesses notified, week commencing 20 April 2020. Given the exceptional circumstances and Covid-19 instructions for self-isolation, farmers unable to access RPW Online, can contact the RPW Customer Contact Centre and register for the loan payments over the telephone.
A change to the BPS 2019 support scheme has also been made following feedback from stakeholders, reducing the BPS rate to 70% of the anticipated claim value. This will maximise the number of farm businesses who may receive a loan payment whilst minimising the risk of future debts.
More information on FarmWell Wales can be found at www.farmwell.wales/get-support/