Plaid Cymru politicians have warned that Welsh farmers face a “perfect storm” without urgent intervention by both UK and Welsh Governments.
Llyr Gruffydd AM and Ben Lake MP have written to both the rural affairs ministers in Cardiff and Westminster explaining that Welsh farmers will need direct intervention to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic.
In letters sent today to Lesley Griffiths (Welsh Government) and George Eustice (UK Government), they highlight the sharp fall in milk and meat prices for farmers in recent weeks, combined with a poor winter and rising feed costs.
The letters call for a specific package of support for food producers in Wales along the same lines as those already unveiled for small businesses and the self-employed. Many farmers do not meet eligibility criteria for either, despite being key to the food production industry at a time of crisis.
The letters state: “Falling incomes are coinciding with rising feed costs, and come at what the most important point of the year for farm businesses. When we consider that this crisis follows a terrible winter, it is difficult to imagine a more perfect storm for Welsh agriculture.”
This “unprecedented challenge” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic demands an urgent response to ensure that food production can continue at a crucial time of year for farmers by stabilising markets.
Mr Gruffydd and Mr Lake added: “This is the time of year when both milk and meat producers look to maximise income and tide them over the rest of the year.
“The ‘spring flush’ is vital for milk producers across Wales and farmers are more reliant than ever on their core food production in this lockdown period. Any alternative income from tourism, which many farmers have been encouraged to seek, has vanished overnight.”
Their joint appeal also asks politicians in Cardiff Bay to take urgent action: “We ask that the Welsh Government considers expanding these measures to offer direct financial support to farming businesses that have also seen their businesses disrupted – and in some cases almost wiped out – by the Covid-19 pandemic with
“We would also be grateful to know what discussions the Welsh Government has had with the UK Government with regard to possible market interventions to stabilise prices.”