Welsh Labour’s Plans for Agriculture Risk Collapsing the Entire Rural Economy

18 Feb 2024
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Welsh Labour’s plans for agriculture risk collapsing the entire rural economy of Wales warned Powys Liberal Democrats today as they call on the Welsh Government to pause the implementation of their ‘sustainable farming scheme’.

Labour’s Sustainable Farming Scheme has come under increased fire from farming unions in recent weeks, as the Welsh Government’s own impact assessment shows the Scheme could cause an 11 per cent cut in jobs in the farming sector directly, not taking into account the wider economy that depends on agriculture in rural parts of Wales.

The Welsh Government’s impact assessment also suggests a £125.3 million hit to output from the sector, and a loss of £199 million to farm business income (85%). 

The news has sparked calls to protest and a recent meeting at Welshpool livestock market saw over 1,000 farmers meet to object to the scheme.

The Liberal Democrats argue that this pressure comes on top of the financial uncertainty placed on Mid Wales farmers by the Conservative Government's poorly negotiated exit from the European Union and unfavourable trade deals with Australia and New Zealand that could see local producers overwhelmed by competition from cheap imports with lower welfare standards.

This is in addition to the energy crisis and inflation which have impacted farmers, with goods like fertilisers rising rapidly in price. 

Powys’ two Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates are calling on the Welsh Government to pause the consultation to allow Ministers to go back to the drawing board and alter the obviously flawed plans.

They have also reiterated their party’s calls for Labour Ministers to specifically change their plans to force farmers to use 10 per cent of their land for tree planting and their blanket use of NVZ regulations.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Brecon, Radnorshire & Cwm Tawe, David Chadwick said:

“Welsh Labour’s scheme cannot truly be ‘sustainable’ if it places the viability of the entire farming industry on the line. These plans in their current form do not only present a risk to our farmers, who are already struggling with inflation and the Conservatives’ botched trade deals, but they also risk collapsing the entire rural economy and industries in the wider agricultural supply chain.

“The Welsh agricultural industry cannot be allowed to go the same way mining did. Farmers in Mid Wales need to be able to make a living and that shouldn’t be a controversial statement.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are urging Labour Ministers to pause the process, sit down and listen to those in the industry and fundamentally change what is an unworkable scheme in its current form.

David Chadwick standing in the highstreet

Adding his comments Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Montgomeryshire & Glyndwr and Llanidloes County Councillor Glyn Preston said:

“The Liberal Democrats have been calling for years for Labour Ministers to listen to concerns over their tree planting programme and over the blanket use of NVZ regulations, yet they have refused to listen.

“Every single farmer I’ve spoken to understands the challenge posed by climate change, especially given their industry would be one of the worst impacted if it is not tackled. They also already do a huge deal to protect our wildlife.

“But our farmers shouldn’t be unfairly targeted or made scapegoats by Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay who often show little understanding of rural areas. The industry needs to be viable and profitable if we are to have food security in our country. At present, the Welsh Government’s plans do not deliver this and they need to go back to the drawing board.

Cllr Glyn Preston standing in front of a stream