Welsh farmers confident about the future despite recession

Most farmers in Wales feel positive about the future of the agricultural industry despite the credit crunch, a Farmers Union of Wales Survey has revealed.

More than 50% of farmers are confident or very confident about the state of the Welsh farming industry, with farmers aged between 50 and 64 the most positive.

About 38% said they were not confident, while 8.6% were unsure, the survey of 100 visitors at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in December found.

Animal diseases were perceived as serious risks to farmers’ businesses, with 59.1% fearing bluetongue and 39.8% concerned about TB.

Despite the concern, about 80% admitted they had not vaccinated against bluetongue, though more than 70% said they would do so in the spring.

The survey also revealed that 71.7% had not diversified their business in the past 10 years. Of the 28.3% who had, most projects (34.6%) were related to property rental, tourism and direct sales.

73.6% replied they had no plans for a big investment in the next five years and only 51.6% had any plans for training this year.

The survey also reflected the sharp reduction in dairy farming in Wales, with only 6.5% of participants revealing dairy as their sole enterprise.

The vast majority were involved with beef or sheep and dairy enterprises.

Despite being heartened by the amount of farmer confidence, FUW president Gareth Vaughan said the industry faced many challenges in the coming year.

“These challenges will include the impact the credit crunch will have on farmers’ cash flow and borrowing and whether the banks honour their obligation to pass on the huge sums injected by the government into the financial markets,” he said.

“FUW is committed to ensuring all available funding is equally distributed for the needs of both upland and lowland farmers and the current financial crisis must not be used as an excuse to ignore our industry.”

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