Plaid Cymru call for a further economic support for Welsh agriculture
Plaid Cymru’s Treasury and Environment and Rural Affairs Spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has called for a “focussed package of economic support” for agriculture, as lockdown measures mean Welsh farmers could lose an entire year of income.
There are concerns the seasonal and already highly vulnerable sector is largely failing to be supported by the UK and Welsh governments’ economic support packages in response to the Coronavirus crisis.
Welsh agriculture is a vital industry, directly employing over 52,000 workers and acts a vital foundation for Wales’ foods and drinks industry which generated £7.4 billion in revenue in 2019 and employed over 240,000 workers directly and in the wider supply chain.
Alongside concerns that the governments’ support packages are overlooking seasonal industries like agriculture, they also fail to reduce the relatively high running costs involved in agriculture including plant and tool lease contracts, asset finance and debt repayments.
Plaid Cymru is calling for the UK Government to urgently develop financial measures to support seasonal industries alongside an increase in funding for the Welsh Government to enable a comprehensive financial support package to underpin Welsh farmers’ incomes.
Ben Lake MP said:
“From lamb to dairy, Welsh agriculture has faced reduced demand and increased pressures on supply which is pushing our farmers to the brink. While both the UK and Welsh Government measures offer the wider economy some support, strongly seasonal industries like agriculture deserve and need a bespoke package of economic support.
“After a tough winter where farmers fought Brexit uncertainty and flooding, Coronavirus has battened down the hatches on an already battered rural economy.
“Welsh agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy where over 80% of farms’ purchases of goods and services are within a 25-mile radius of their farm.
“The collapse of agriculture in Wales, let alone in other regions such as South West England and East Anglia, would be a disaster for rural communities.
“The UK Government must urgently review its existing support mechanisms to rural businesses and work with the Welsh Government to fund a comprehensive package of support for Welsh farmers. Large parts of our economy, many of our communities and so much more depends on a resolute response which will enable our farmers to weather this crisis.”