ON THE EVE of a key debate in the House of Commons on dairy farming, the Liberal Democrats led by Alistair Cameron have released figures that show that the number of dairy farms has dropped by 7% in Carmarthenshire and 6% in Pembrokeshire over the past four years.
This follows a decline of 37% in the number of farms in the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire between September 2002 and May 2012.
The figures were produced by the independent and well respected House of Commons Library at the request of Mark Williams MP for Ceredigion and show that nationally dairy farming has fallen by 5,500 farms in the last decade.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) said many dairy farmers are at the end of their tether, operating at a loss and unable to receive any more finance from banks.
Alistair Cameron said: “The growing crisis in Wales’ farms is becoming a danger to rural Wales. Many farms are the biggest businesses in our communities and when they struggle, the village does too.
“We need the Government to stop saying the right things and start doing the right things.
“There are things the government could do to support the sector but is choosing not to. I want to see them giving the regulator teeth, supporting UK farmers in their talks with big manufacturers and seeing what more can be done on public sector contracts.”
Mark Williams MP added: “The past decade has been incredibly difficult for our agriculture industry, and especially our dairy sector. Since 2005, we have seen over 5,500 dairy farms in Britain close, often due to the heavy burden of debt. This is a devastating figure.
“Rural Britain relies on the success of our farmers, yet they face an increasingly volatile world market. Government must therefore play a role in supporting farmers in the short to medium term, and provide the right conditions for them to thrive in the long term.
“There needs to be action from the Government to ensure fairness in the supply chain, to improve the marketing and export potential of dairy, and to ensure that dairy farmers can collaborate to have a strong voice when negotiating. Without this, there is real concern that dairy farms could continue to close, which would have a terrible impact on rural Britain.”