Welsh Farmers to cutback on food production due to rising costs, exclusive poll reveals

  • Video Report by ITV Wales' Rural Affairs Correspondent Hannah Thomas

Food production is a growing concern for Welsh farmers with many admitting they will be cutting back over the next year, according to an ITV Wales exclusive survey.

With costs continuing to rise, the survey of more than 700 Welsh farmers highlighted deep concerns among the agricultural community about how food will be produced in the future.

Data from the National Farmers Union showed that 71% of farmers intend to reduce output over the next year due to increased costs.

More specifically, 54% of beef farmers admit they will reduce the size of their herds because of price rises, as well as 46% of sheep farmers with the size of their flocks due to the same reason.

More than 70% of farmers intend to reduce output over the next year due to increased costs. Credit: PA

​​Gwawr Parry, who runs her business in Llanfair Caereinion, is already feeling the pressure: "There's the consumers to be concerned about as well, because obviously the cost of living is increasing for them as well, and we appreciate that.

"So that's going to affect our lamb prices, which we're really worried about for the autumn.

"Reducing stock numbers is just one way of mitigating those risks and those costs. It's looking for ways of surviving the storm, and adapting for the future, so that we are here to be able to pass something on for our children."

A total of 722 farmers and growers completed our survey between 26 June and 3 July 2022.

More than half (53%) of farmers said they will be buying less animal feed in the next 12 months.

Some are worried the rising costs for farmers will be passed onto the consumer. Credit: PA

Despite this, one farmer said it's not just the upkeep of the animals that is the issue: "My beef farm cannot survive the additional costs. It is not just fertiliser and feed, it is fuel, electricity, everything is costing so much more. We can not afford to carry on."

Another explained how "the costs of production in dairy farming are currently exceeding profit levels" as 35% of farmers will be reducing stock numbers in the next 12 months, compared to 29% who will increase levels.

Echoing this view is dairy farmer Carys Jones. The 30-year-old from Caldicot has already seen fertiliser go up by 200% and feed increase by 70%.

Carys explained: "Price rises are really putting some businesses to the wall, including ours. And times have never been so tough for farmers, whether that's arable, dairy, or no matter what sector you're in.

"People are looking at taking early retirement, or encouraging their sons or daughters to go into other sectors, because actually they can't see them making a sustainable living out of agriculture, which is a really sad thing for our country."

46% of sheep farmers will reduce the the size of their flocks due to rising costs. Credit: PA

When asked about manufactured nitrogen fertiliser in the ITV Wales survey, 83% of farmers said they will be using less than in the last year with an average reduction of 36%.

One farmer explained: "I have to continue to use a small amount of fertiliser this year and next or my flock’s health would suffer."

However, when it came to poultry, of those surveyed, 68% of farmers stated will be making no change to bird numbers, compared to 21% who said they will be making reductions over the next 12 months.

Discussing the issue and what more the UK Government can do to help, newly appointed Welsh Secretary Sir Robert Buckland said: "The packages we’ve already announced amount to hundreds of millions of pounds of support, not just for individual house holders, but for the wider sector as well - whether it’s the cut in fuel duty or indeed action on bills relating to energy."