Farmers still in the dark over future of Cowbridge market

Farmers in Cowbridge, south Wales, still do not know if they will get a new livestock market when the current site is demolished to make way for a car park.

The final sheep sale as well as gates and crushes will take place on Tuesday 1 September, marking the end of an era for farmers using the 200-year-old mart in the historic market town in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Glamorgan Council plans to demolish the livestock sheds, sales pens, auction area, market office and a former café to build the car park.

See also: Cowbridge market closure: Farmers face 80-mile trip to sell animals

As things stand, Glamorgan faces a future without a permanent livestock market. It would mean farmers face a 90-mile round trip to sell their sheep.

There are markets in Carmarthen and Brecon, which are about 49 and 45 miles away, respectively.

In April, the council said it was in talks with Welsh government and other groups to explore alternative sites, but there appears to have been little progress, while the application for the demolition of the current site presses ahead.

When Farmers Weekly contacted the council for an update, a spokesperson said: “The door is still open to work with the farming community and Welsh government to progress further a viable scheme, subject to funding being available.

“We would welcome further discussions, but council cannot lead on the delivery of any scheme. This must be driven by the private sector with support from the public sector.”

Welsh government said talks were ongoing about the possibility of a new site. A spokesperson said: “We recognise the importance of access to livestock markets to the rural economy, and contacted the local authority to discuss the matter at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

‘True decline’

Farmer Rob Thomas, who brings his animals from the nearby village of Colwinston, questioned what hope there was for young farmers if markets kept closing.

“The true decline in Cowbridge will prevail like Bridgend and Newport when their marts closed years ago,” he said: 

“It is also detrimental to the shop, eat and support local messages put out by Welsh government. It fathoms belief.

“The council just launched an initiative to work with small and medium businesses to help economic regeneration and then on the other hand closing the mart which is needed and used more than ever during the pandemic and is fundamental to rural agri-economy.”