Mental health concerns drive efforts to build new Glamorgan mart

Giving young farmers hope for the future and protecting mental health in the rural community are driving efforts to create a new facility to replace Cowbridge market in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The market was demolished in 2020 to make way for a supermarket, taking from farmers a valued place to socialise and sell livestock locally.

See also: Countdown to Carmarthen mart reopening in March

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has revived a project to build a new facility that would serve the rural community, after raising concerns about the negative effects of losing the market.

Sharon Pritchard, county executive officer at FUW Glamorgan, said finding a new site is a top priority for the union and it had held a “positive and progressive” meeting with the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

“Glamorgan farmers have a real difficulty coming together because there isn’t that market anymore,” Ms Pritchard told Farmers Weekly.

“When you are on the farm all the time, you might lose a ewe or a cow and it does weigh really heavily on you if you can’t share that.”

Since the Cowbridge closure, farmers have had to travel long distances to sell stock at Raglan, Carmarthen or Brecon.

The reopening of Carmarthen market on 2 March, after more than 18 months of no sales while it was refurbished, was welcomed by local farmers who say the site is crucial for the rural community.

Funding for new hub

The FUW and the council are trying to secure funding for a new “agri-hub” in Glamorgan and have been in talks with auctioneers, and the Welsh government about the possibility of rural development funds.

Ms Pritchard said younger farmers in particular would benefit greatly from a new facility.

“There’s a real hunger and passion, they want to protect their future and the industry and they feel that having a hub will be a massive help.

“Whether it could be a farmers’ co-operative, where farmers buy into it and benefit from reduce commission from selling their livestock, is an idea that has been presented.

“Or whether the potential auctioneers running the facility would buy into it and be paid back out, a sort of investment scheme.”

Farmers and other residents in the Vale want any new facility to include meeting spaces and catering facilities, as well as possible office space so the building can be used throughout the week, not just on market days.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: “Ongoing discussions have been taking place in recent months between farming unions, auctioneers and also Welsh Government around options that could be taken forward to the next stage.

“We plan to expand these discussions with young farmers and other partners to consider other factors such as mental health and climate change in the design of any project.”

When asked by Farmers Weekly about providing funding for the new agri-hub, a Welsh government spokesman said: “We are aware of the proposal to replace Cowbridge market and we are in contact with the local authority on the details. 

“Issues such as a clear business case will need to be agreed before we are able to comment on potential support.”