The Welsh Government’s response to the impact of the dry weather on farming is wholly inadequate, according to Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s agriculture spokesperson.
“This announcement clearly highlights that the Welsh Government has not understood how critical an issue this is for farmers in Wales. Many face huge additional and unforeseen costs due to the extreme weather which will put their business and livelihood at risk. I’ve spoken to farmers at agricultural shows who face additional feed costs for their livestock in the tens of thousands of pounds due to the extremely dry weather.
“When the Scottish Government announced its support measures Labour described it as ‘too little, too late’. If so, this announcement by Labour in Wales could be described as ‘even less, even later’. Whilst support in Scotland will be available from October it seems Welsh farmers will have to wait until December. Loans in Scotland will cover up to 90% of the value of BPS payments whilst in Wales it will be 70%.
“Waiting until the last of the big Welsh agricultural shows are out of the way before issuing this statement, and doing so on GCSE results day, is a cynical move to bury bad news. They also have nothing to say about taking action to ensure the availability of fodder in months to come. The Irish Government announced a scheme to support the importation of fodder way back in April.
“The Welsh Government’s announcement that it will also contribute £500,000 to agricultural charities is a shocking admission that its own failures will lead to serious hardship and a state of crisis for some farming families. Throwing money to charities to sort out a mess that the Government should be dealing with is no way to support a critically important industry.
“There is an implicit recognition in the statement that this is going to lead to farmers going out of business and an explicit acceptance that some farmers will be reliant on charity to meet their living costs. Given the importance of the agricultural sector in Wales – and the need for a resilient rural economy as we approach the deadline for leaving the EU – it will feel to some that the Welsh Government is just paying lip service to farmers in their hour of need. This is an abdication of responsibility and rubs salt in the wound of another Welsh Government farming failure.”
Mr Gruffydd added that this situation emphasised the critical need to retain a basic payment element to any reformed agricultural payment regime in Wales.
“Given the impact of this year’s unprecedented weather events and the continued uncertainty over future trading relationships, a basic payment gives farmers at least an element of income stability. Taking that away would undermine our continued supply of quality, affordable food. In a time of great political uncertainty it’s essential that this isn’t lost.”