Strong public backing for farm support spending, survey reveals

Welsh farm leaders say the Welsh government must pay heed to the broad backing of taxpayers for farm support as it prepares to launch its draft budget for 2024-25.

Speaking ahead of the Welsh Winter Fair, NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said the union recognised the significant financial pressures the Welsh government is facing.

See also: ‘Fury’ as Welsh government cuts rural affairs budget

“It is our firm belief, however, that a sector that continues to feed the nation, manages 80% of the land area, underpins an £8bn food and farming sector, and makes unparalleled contribution to the economic, environmental, social and cultural wellbeing of rural Wales – all for just 2% of the current spend – is a sector that represents an exceptional return for public funding.”

Concerns about future funding levels were sparked in mid-October, when Welsh finance minister Rebecca Evans announced a £37.5m cut in the 2023-24 rural budget as part of a “reprioritisation” exercise.

These cuts were necessary to enable in-year top-ups for Welsh health and transport spending, she said.

Clear signal 

With the 2024-25 draft budget to be drawn up in December, NFU Cymru is keen to send a clear signal to government that further budgetary constraint will be unwelcome, both by the farming community and by society as a whole.

It has, therefore, released the findings of a new YouGov survey, which suggests strong public backing for government support for Welsh farmers.

The poll of more than 1,000 adults found 82% agreed with taxpayer money being targeted at farmers to produce food, with 72% saying it was a good use of public spending.

These figures were even higher among citizens in Cardiff and the south-central region, suggesting urban dwellers are even more enthusiastic about support for rural food producers.

Mr Jones said: “In its frequent engagement with the Welsh government, NFU Cymru is told that the union must demonstrate the value of farming, not only to government, but also to the taxpayer.

“I am, therefore, delighted that our recently commissioned survey has shown the high levels of backing among the public for support for Welsh agriculture.

“People across Wales want to see our farming sector supported to produce food alongside the other benefits they already deliver.”

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