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Written Statement - Consultation on the Basic Payment Scheme

Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food

I have commenced consultation today on proposals for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). The consultation explains the options available to Wales. A choice now needs to be made from amongst them. I am grateful for the work of the Data Modelling Stakeholder Group and High Level Group which have considered the options and informed the consultation’s development. The farming unions and other stakeholder bodies involved have made a valuable and valued contribution.

The Welsh Government has long standing policy goals for the introduction of the BPS in this CAP reform. These are stated in the consultation which assesses how the different options match them. The most important goals are to complete preparations for the BPS in time to make payments for the 2015 payment window which runs from 1 December 2015 to 30 June 2016, and secondly to be confident that the BPS arrangements comply with the regulations so that the BPS can be introduced without disruption. Being able to complete arrangements and to make timely payments are essential for the financial well being of the farming industry in Wales.

Stakeholder bodies and I share a long standing goal to seek options which best manage the financial disruption to the whole farming industry of the move to an area based payment system and to recognise the different character of farm land which exists across Wales. I am disappointed that it now seems unlikely that a regional system of any sort will be feasible. A regional proposal would be a good option in terms of minimising financial disruption for the industry as a whole but to implement it I would have to be certain that all land was correctly classified in the time available.  It does not appear to be possible to undertake the necessary further detailed mapping work and allow for any appeals to made in time to make 2015 payments.

The consultation will last 12 weeks and I hope there will be a high level of response given the importance of the matter to the industry. My final decision will be formed by consultation responses, a judgement of the practicalities of implementing the BPS securely without avoidable delay to making claimants’ payments, and how to best deliver the Welsh Government’s BPS policy goals. I hope to announce my decision in July following consideration by the European Commission.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.