‘New reforms could be the death of farming’, say young farmers

A young farmer has said he is facing a “very uncertain future” as the Welsh Government plans to make major reforms to the industry.

Under new proposals, the Welsh Government wants to reward farmers who focus on sustainable food production and climate change.

In order to qualify for financial government support, farmers must ensure 10% of their land is planted with trees and another 10% dedicated to wildlife habitats.

Farmers have criticised the plans saying some of these requirements are just “not possible”.

Ethan Williams, who runs a farm in Gwaelod-y-garth, told CJS News: “We find the proposed reforms very challenging… and they give us a very uncertain future.

“It is the things they have put forward for us to do, such as the 10% tree cover on land … and for many that is not possible”.

Ethan added the plans will come at a financial cost to farmers. He added: “It could cost thousands and for them not to be able to see that money returned makes it difficult to be able to do. It just doesn’t work out for many people, especially those looking to get into the industry”.

Garth Farm

Unions have warned that there could be unrest due to these reforms and the consequences that face the farming community.

This comes after 3,000 farmers and supporters gathered at Carmarthen on Thursday night. The protest saw the farmers mocking a coffin that read “in memory of Welsh farming.”

Other young farmers have told CJS News some may have to reduce labour on their land due to a lack of support.

“Farm owners and managers will have no choice but to reduce labour on farms due to lack of support and additional costs for meeting the new scheme requirements which will lead to very little opportunity for future young farmers”.

Another said: “The new proposed government policies could be the death of established farms let alone young ones”.

A recent support analysing the financial impact on the plans suggests it could result in a 10.8% reduction in livestock, which the NFU claim is the equivalent to 5,500 jobs.

Abi Reader, NFU Cymru Deputy President, told CJS: “If we are building a farming industry on a future support payment, that isn’t going to be allowing businesses to operate at the most efficient, it’s not really going to be very attractive for these young people.” 

The BBC reported that Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths MS urged people to take part in the consultation.

She said she understood it was a time of change and natural for people to feel frightened and uncertain.

“Do I think some of the proposals will have to be changed? Yes, of course I think that – there’s no point having a consultation if you don’t listen to it.”

A third and final consultation on the scheme is ongoing and in a statement the Welsh government said: “This consultation is meaningful and it’s really important people put in their responses.”