Farmers have reacted with dismay at news that 200-year-old Cowbridge livestock market in south Wales is to close.
Glamorgan Council is keen to use the site to create a car park for shoppers but, with no firm plans for an alternative venue agreed, the county is facing a future without a permanent livestock market.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has called for “a stay of execution” on the closure, highlighting it would leave some farmers with longer trips to sell stock, adding costs and eating into already-dwindling returns.
“Currently the site provides an opportunity to sell stock directly to buyers, but if it closes then the closest alternative is at Raglan, Carmarthen or Brecon and that will mean extra costs for our members,” said FUW county executive officer Rachel Saunders.
“We are very concerned that this move will be the end of market trading in Cowbridge – something which will cost our local farmers, already under pressure because of uncertainty over red meat sales post-Brexit,” she said.
Lis Burnett, Vale of Glamorgan’s deputy leader and cabinet member for education and regeneration, said: “Work is under way with partners to identify a plot of land for a larger market site that could cater for a whole range of agricultural businesses. We are confident that by working closely with the farming community and Welsh government these plans can be brought to fruition.
“From the outset, the council has sought to work with the current market operators, farming unions, and other farming representatives to identify the longer term needs of farmers in the region,” she added.
In a report published earlier this year, the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA), highlighted the economic and social contribution England and Wales’s 110 livestock auction markets make, suggesting they generate a turnover of £1.76bn and directly employ more than 2,000 people.
Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA, said: “The report clearly identifies that without livestock auction markets, farmers would be in a far worse position due to lack of competition, and livestock numbers across England and Wales would inevitably fall.
“Knock-on effects to the wider rural economy would be devastating. The farming community must get behind and support its livestock auction markets.”