Fears fewer lambs will be bred in Wales next year as lambing season costs quadruple

The cost of running a farm has increased considerably for farmers across Wales in the last year.

From the cost of sheep pellets to the price of fuel, rising costs are biting in rural Wales as much as anywhere.

For Rob Lewis who runs a farm in Rhayader, lambing season is currently costing four times as much as it did last year.

Rob Lewis says cost on his farm have quadrupled in the last year

“We can't just stop feeding," he told ITV Wales. "And you know, we need the grass growth to sustain these heads.

"But what happens in the future? What happens down the line?"

There are fears there will be fewer lambs bred next year if price hikes continue because farmers just won't have the cash to feed them.

The price of red diesel to run machinery on his farm costs twice what it did in April 2022, but he is also keen to stress that fuel costs aren’t only hitting farming.

Fuel costs are being felt even more acutely in rural Wales

Rob continued: “I had a mate of mine ring me last week who farms up the Elan Valley, and they're reliant on diesel generators for their power, and he had his diesel on order for a month - four weeks - and he was out and he didn't know when he was going to get it.”

With all its reservoirs and dams, it is difficult to mistake the Elan Valley. However, living in such a picturesque part of Wales comes at an additional cost, with mains electricity something of a luxury.

Nearby Penbont House, which regularly hosts lunch clubs for people who live in the wider area, depends entirely on a generator for its power.

For those who attend it, rising living costs are becoming all encompassing.

Oil for central heating has doubled in price, the cost of food is forcing many to cut back, and even everyday essentials such as fabric softener have seen a jump.

There's often a perception that to live within one of Wales’ national parks or beautiful rural areas such as the Elan Valley, you must be well off.

However, for Del Ho-Sang, a volunteer with local charity The Arches, that simply is not the case.

"No. That's not true at all,” she said.

“We have a foodbank for those who can't afford food. People donate either food or money. And we sort it all out, and it gets delivered to them, and hopefully you know that keeps going."

For the residents who use the charity, its minibus is the only transport they have access to with no local bus service. 

Without ‘Archie’ the minibus, there are fears people would risk becoming increasingly isolated

Julie Davies, a co-ordinator at the charity, told ITV Wales that with charitable donations slowing down, the viability of it looks less certain for the future.

“It runs itself at the moment, but the fact that the fuel prices have gone up,” she said.

“It's very difficult to run a minibus without charitable donations.” 

Last week, the Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said the UK Government is "doing absolutely everything it can to help families in Wales cope with the rising cost of living".

First Minister Mark Drakeford said families in Wales have "good reason" to be scared as the cost of living crisis deepens, acknowledging that some will face the "awful choice between starving or freezing".