Brexit: Welsh sheep farmers 'can ill afford to lose funding'

Farmers will see a near £100m shortfall in funding for Welsh agriculture
Farmers will see a near £100m shortfall in funding for Welsh agriculture

Welsh farmers 'can ill afford to lose funding' after the spending review appeared to show a £95m blackhole for the country's farming industry.

The National Sheep Association’s (NSA) Wales has urged Defra to provide an assurance of future financial support following last week’s announcement.

The 2021-2022 Welsh agricultural budget will be £242 million instead of £337 million - a cut of around 28 percent, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed.

The review came just days after the three devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and NI wrote jointly to Defra Secretary George Eustice urging him to provide assurances that the budget for agriculture would be maintained.

And farmers are just weeks away from potential disruption to markets as the end of the transition period nears, alongside the upheaval that the pandemic has caused to the UK food supply chain.

NSA Wales Chair, Kate Hovers said the £95m funding shortfall made it 'very difficult' for Welsh farmers to see a 'way forward'.

“NSA Cymru understands Westminster are claiming the devolved nations will have this money from the EU but it is previously allocated money and not for future farm payment schemes," she added.

“We are constantly told to be resilient and plan for the future but when we have no control over the price of our end product and then suddenly see a reduction in promised funds, this makes it very difficult to see a way forward.”

It comes as NFU Cymru said the prospect of such a funding cut was a 'severe blow' to the industry’s future ambitions.

Wales' other agricultural union, the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW), called the news a 'Brexit betrayal' for the country's food producers.

Ms Hovers added: “This is a bitter pill to swallow as we have been consistently told that funding for Welsh farming would be maintained and protected following our departure from the EU."