Wales’ farming unions have joined forces in a bid to convince the Welsh government to sanction financial aid to livestock farmers worst affected by last month’s snow.
In a rare display of solidarity, the leaders of NFU Cymru, the Farmers’ Union of Wales and CLA Wales together with the chairman of Wales YFC, have appealed directly to Wales’ farming minister, Alun Davies.
In an open letter to the minister, they accuse the Welsh government of closing the door on emergency aid, even before the full extent of losses is known.
They describe the consequences of last month’s weather as “quite extraordinary and devastating” and said this was having a dire effect on the farms affected.
The letter calls on the Welsh government to deliver a similar package of measures as those agreed by the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“These farmers need evidence that Welsh government cares about their plight,” the letter said. “They are not seeking to be advantaged as a result of the exceptional circumstances they have had to endure but they do look to Welsh government to provide parity of treatment with others suffering similar consequences in other parts of the UK and do not expect to be placed at a disadvantage when it comes to recognition of the hardship they face.”
“In Wales, the Welsh government appears to have closed the door on emergency aid even before knowing the full extent of the losses which continue to mount on some farms as the snow recedes, the Welsh government argument being that there are ‘fundamental differences’ to the losses sustained in Wales relative to other parts of the UK,” the letter added.
Mr Davies has argued against financial aid, insisting farmers are already supported sufficiently through their single farm payments. But the unions insist this payment does not adequately compensate for the recent exceptional circumstances.
“From our perspectives, the losses that have been sustained on some farms in Wales are no different to those in Scotland, Northern Ireland or England and are such, in some instances, to threaten business viability. The heavy loss of stock has been a harrowing experience for those affected and have left the farmers concerned drained not just financially but emotionally too.”
These losses have been compounded by the dramatic fall in farm incomes, highlighted in a recent report published by the Welsh government.
PHOTOS: Sheep farmer documents snow struggle