Welsh upland farmers facing income struggle

Wales’ upland farmers are struggling to survive, an NFU Cymru survey has revealed.

A combination of depressed lamb prices and poor weather has hit those farming Wales’ harshest countryside particularly hard.

John Owen, NFU Cymru Less Favoured Area board chairman, said the survey findings had come as no surprise.

“The combined effects of increasing production costs on farms, continued low lamb prices and the repercussions of the extremely poor weather conditions that farmers have had to cope with over the past 12 months have left many upland farmers in Wales struggling to survive,” he said.

Eighty percent of farmers who responded to the survey had received LFA support in the form of the Tir Mynydd exit payment in March 2012.

Earlier this month, deputy farm minister, Alun Davies, made it clear that he had no intention of reviving this scheme.

But one farmer who responded to the survey said the impact of the removal of dedicated LFA support would now be more severe due to the combination of falling lamb returns and higher feed costs.

“The principle of dedicated LFA support being a ‘compensatory allowance’ still applies today and is as worthy as ever as the constraints of hill farming are unchanged and very demanding,” the respondent insisted.

John Owen described as “regrettable” the Welsh government’s continued refusal to recognise the difficulties and constraints associated with farming in the hills and uplands of Wales. “With 80% of the agricultural land in Wales designated as LFA, these support payments have been critical in ensuring the continued viability of livestock farming in the uplands and have been a much needed source of income for many of our rural communities,” he said.

“The loss of targeted direct support will come as a huge blow to our upland areas in 2013 and it’s extremely sad that Wales will be the only part of the UK that does not offer dedicated and targeted support to its hill and upland farmers.”

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