Welsh farmers fear uncertain future amidst budget cuts

Farmers in Wales are facing tougher economic challenges after the government “reprioritised” its budget to support other sectors.

In October 2023, the Rural Affairs budget was dealt a blow of over £37 million. Local farmers say the reduced funding and rising costs will make it difficult to upkeep sustainable farming practices.

Celia Thomas is part of Penrhiw Farm Organic Meats, which has been trading at local farmers’ markets for around 25 years. She says the changes in government policy will have far-reaching implications for the farming industry.

“Farming is very dependent on government support—dependent to produce the biodiversity benefits of good sustainable farming. It’s dependent on that to help compete with foreign imports and to keep the whole community of the countryside alive, vibrant, and profitable.”

A survey commissioned by the National Farmers’ Union showed that 82% of people in Wales support the government providing financial help to farmers for food production.

Dean Euden sells locally-produced craft spirits at Cardiff farmers’ markets. “If you buy everything from the supermarket, most of the money is leaving the community and going elsewhere,” he says.

“If you buy locally and you support your local farmers’ markets, then it’s staying not only in the country, it’s staying literally in the local community as well.”

The draft budget for 2024-2025 allocated £62 million less to rural affairs compared to the previous financial year. The Welsh government told the BBC: “We have been very clear we are facing an extremely challenging financial situation, the toughest since devolution.

“Despite these challenges, we remain absolutely committed to supporting farmers and rural communities throughout Wales.”

The government is in its final consultation on the new Sustainable Farming Scheme, which will be the main support for farmers from 2025. The final policy will significantly impact the future of local farms.