Welsh farmer opposed to grant shake-up plan says 'it's going to cost our children's future'

A new subsidy scheme for Welsh farmers is going to "cost us and our children's future", say those in the sector as tensions escalate.

First Minister Mark Drakeford says the Welsh Government is "working with farmers" and that reforms are "unavoidable".

But many in the agriculture industry are up in arms over the proposed changes, with more protests being staged in Wales on Thursday.

UK and Welsh Governments are introducing new subsidy schemes for farmers, to replace the grants they used to receive when Britain was part of the European Union.

The systems in Wales and in England are aimed at switching the grants paid to farmers and landowners to rewards for looking after and improving the environment. 

But Celia Williams, who runs Abbey Farm Rhuddlan, says it would be a big blow for their business. She estimates they would lose 35 acres and have fewer cows, sheep and lambs.

She told ITV Wales: "For years and years we've been put on, put on, put on. We've got children that we want to have a future farm for.

"We're here to support their (Welsh Government) targets, but you can't do it at a cost to us".

Dairy farmer Ewan Davies, from Elwy Valley has lost 30 cows to tuberculosis since September and says he "won't take up" the scheme. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Ms Williams added: "We all want to do our best for the environment and we do through the current schemes but these future schemes just aren't sustainable.

"We all want to do our bit but it's just not sustainable, it's going to be at a cost to farmers and a cost to our children's future."

The Welsh Government plans require farmers and landowners to devote 10% of their land to tree planting to qualify for the payouts, with another 10% planned for wildlife habitat.

Bryn Davies, a dairy farmer in Mostyn, Flintshire, says he can understand the need to address climate change but says the proposals are going to come at too great a cost to the farming sector.

He said: "All of us farmers in Wales are annoyed, how would you like it if someone came into your garden to take 10% of it?"

Mr Davies also has concerns about the tree-planting element of the scheme saying, "there'll be more badgers, more bovine TB".

Dairy farmer Ewan Davies, from Elwy Valley, said he has lost 30 cows to tuberculosis since September. He said he "won't take up" the sustainable farming scheme, adding "that's it, end of story".

He says he would rather farm without a payment before that. Mr Davies said: "It'll be tough but that's it, I'll get on with it, it's tough for everyone in the world."

Agriculture college students Mali Ellis-Roberts and Ella Jones fear their "futures are getting ruined." Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The next generation of farmers is also concerned about what will happen to the sector in the coming years. Agriculture college students Mali Ellis-Roberts and Ella Jones say everyone relies on the rural community to feed their families.

Mali said: "It's important that everyone understands that our futures are getting ruined."

Ella says "the public is supportive" of those working in the farming sector, adding: "Without us, what are you going to do?"

She said: "It's not just us that's the problem with the climate. We're doing it (farming) so everyone can have food."

The Welsh Government's farming subsidy scheme is currently out for consultation and thousands of farmers have attended the roadshow sessions across Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford says that reforms are "unavoidable".

The First Minister told ITV Wales: "We've changed and adapted the proposals having heard the views and advice of farmers, and I'm quite sure they will change again in future.

"No farmer has to sign up, it's voluntary, around half the farms in Wales aren't signed up to the current scheme.

"I understand farmers do feel under pressure, including the real tragedy of TB in cattle, I understand the way they feel about the future.

"Our aim is to bring farmers with us, but there is a bargain. We want to invest in their futures, but the Welsh public that is providing that investment is entitled to a return on that investment.

"Those are the things that the wider Welsh public want to see in their futures."

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