Farming leaders have issued an urgent rallying call to tackle rural poverty in Wales after a major report exposed alarming gaps in core services.
The Deep Rural Localities report revealed that a lack of affordable housing, access to public transport, broadband and mobile phone services was crippling the lives of Welsh farmers.
The study, by the Wales Rural Observatory, found that 36% of respondents said general service provision in there area was “poor” or “very poor”.
While 91% of respondents said broadband access was essential or desirable, only 51% could connect to high-speed services.
Public transport was generally rated “poor” and nearly one-third did not have central heating or loft insulation and 31% did not have double glazing.
Farmers’ Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan said measures must be taken now to fight rural poverty in his country.
He said: “We have regularly called for planning changes to allow more affordable housing in a bid to stem the migration of young people from rural areas.
“Increased public transport provision and improved broadband and mobile phone coverage are also a crucial necessity for those living and working in Wales’ numerous isolated communities.”
Mr Vaughan said access to communications for Welsh rural farmers was vital in enabling their businesses to survive.
“Farmers are increasingly required to access the internet to comply with legislation affecting their livelihoods and traditional way of life and the FUW has long campaigned for reliable broadband and mobile phone reception to be widely extended,” he added.
Ed Bailey, president of NFU Cymru, said the report showed poverty must be addressed in the countryside.
He said: “The high-quality environment and landscape that characterises much of Wales often makes it difficult for those in authority to accept that poverty and deprivation exist at all in rural areas and this report highlights only some of the issues associated with living in deep rural localities.”
The research was based on a study of communities at least 30 minutes’ drive from a centre with a population of more than 10,000.