FARMING unions have warmly welcomed the Welsh Government's decision to maintain the level of BPS direct payments to Welsh farmers in 2021.

This is in contrast to England where BPS subsidies will be reduced next year.

In her written statement, rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths stated she had ‘prioritised support’ for the sector to help with the challenges facing rural communities as a result of the UK leaving the EU and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The total direct payment ceiling of £238million mirrors the level of support provided to farmers in 2020.

Welcoming the move, NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “As a union, we have stressed to Welsh Government that the BPS is crucial to maintaining the supply of safe, high quality and affordable food to all in society. Never has this been more important than as the nation continues to battle against the effect of the coronavirus.

“As well as providing security to farming businesses, this announcement is a boost for our rural businesses and communities, also, as Welsh farms provide the economic, social and cultural foundation of our rural communities.

“Although there is still much uncertainty ahead for Welsh agriculture, the news that funding levels for the 2021 BPS will be maintained provides clarity and stability in the short term and will go some way to helping equip farmers for the continuing challenges ahead.”

Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts, also welcomed the announcement, adding that uncertainty over whether a trade deal would be reached with the EU, the imminent non-tariff barriers and costs associated with the end of the withdrawal period and the impacts of the pandemic were already weighing heavily on farmers minds.

Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotion Wales has predicted that non-tariff barriers will add costs for exporters of between 4 per cent and 8 per cent after December 31.

Export health certificates alone would cost Welsh businesses tens of millions, and such costs were likely to be passed up the supply chain to producers.

“Such costs will hit the food and farming industries irrespective of whether we have a UK-EU trade deal. If there is no deal this is the worst case scenario, since tariffs on our exports will devalue them by tens of per cent – making the BPS even more essential for farm business survival in the next year.”