Deputy Minister addresses Basic Payment changes
Rebecca Evans, the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, has written to Assembly Members to explain how the Welsh Government is preparing for the implementation of the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), in light of inaccurate reporting in some parts of the press.
The revised scheme, which comes into force early next year, involves moving to an area-based payment over a transition period of five years. While the cross-checks required will prevent full payments in December 2015, the Welsh Government will be making substantial part payments as early in the payment period as possible.
The Deputy Minister explained why these changes are essential:
"Farmers have told us consistently that they want to be informed promptly of all decisions relating to CAP Reform and the introduction of the new schemes, especially where decisions could impact on their cash flow. For that reason, my officials have indicated, more than 12 months in advance, that the first year's BPS will be made in two instalments. It is anticipated that the initial instalment to each farmer will be in the region of 80% and will be made as early as possible in the 2015 payment window.
"The first year of any new CAP Scheme creates complexities but for Wales the move to an area based scheme and securing a five year transition to new area payment rates will be particularly challenging. In order to calculate new BPS payment rates for farmers, my officials must know the total number of farmers who qualify, how many hectares of land are eligible for payment, and how farmer chose to apply for new entitlement (i.e. whether they have linked their BPS payments to their old Single Payments Scheme (SPS) payment entitlement values or applied to the national reserve as new entrant or young farmers). It is therefore necessary to plan for a substantial partial payment to be made from December 2015, followed by the remaining balance by May 2016 once the full entitlement values are calculated.
"If Rural Payments Wales attempted to pay farmers in full before sufficient claims had been validated they would have to guess the number of hectares eligible for payments and farmers applying to the Scheme, which could result in under or over paying customers or exceeding the EU Scheme budget, risking European Commission disallowance for failing to administer the scheme correctly.
"I will continue to keep farmers, stakeholders and Assembly Members of all decisions as they are taken."
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