UK. Thousands of farms at risk due to lack of long term subsidy plans, Lib Dems warn


The UK government is "failing" to support farmers in the long-term according to the Liberal Democrats as new figures suggest around 4,000 West Country farms could go out of business after Brexit.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Mark Williams together with its UK leader, Tim Farron, has launched a "not a penny less" campaign.

Mr Williams claims the current guarantee of funding until 2020 'does not go far enough.'

"The subsidy regime is not something farmers welcome but it's a reality for the farming industry at the moment," he said.

"There has been some concern in farming circles that those existing subsidies will be removed... this is a lifeline so I understand their anxiety.

"After the statement from David Davis in the House of Commons nearly a fortnight ago, assurances are still not there.

"The ramifications of many farming businesses going bust… [are] huge for rural communities. It's at that point you factor in how feasible it is for village schools to stay open, as well as other service providers and bus routes."

He said that "on balance", he would prefer to see the Welsh Government, not UK ministers, keep control of farm support payments.

'Considerable dismay' among farmers
The party released details in conjunction with Defra data released earlier in the year which shows a stark warning regarding the amount of farms that could go out of business without necessary subsidies.

The Lib-Dems said 4,402 farms in the South West alone were at risk.

Nationally, it estimates 20,600 farmers would be driven out of businesses unless they continue to get financial support.

"Farmers making decisions now about buying livestock and investing for the future are being left in the dark about what will come after 2020," said Lib-Dem leader Tim Farron.

John Montagu, 11th Earl of Sandwich said during a House of Lords debate that there has been 'considerable dismay' among farms since Brexit because of the threat to farm payments.

"The new Secretary of State will have to persuade the Chancellor that smaller farmers and hill farmers will not be able to carry on unless they are given stronger reassurances of support.

"I am calling on government to reassure farmers that they are not going to face cuts to the support they rely on," said Mr Farron

"In 2013, farmers received €2.6 billion under Pillar 1 and €637 million for agri-environment and rural development under “green” Pillar 2."

"How will the government ensure that British farmers continue to receive these payments?

"There are fears that direct payments will be significantly less under the new Government because of the continuing need for austerity.

"Farmers will have to receive this level of support or the whole fabric of rural society and the countryside will collapse—we heard of the situation in Wales."

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