Language campaigners call on Welsh Government to listen to farmers

WELSH Government must listen to farmers and consider the Welsh language in the Sustainable Farming Plan to protect rural communities, according to language campaigners.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith has called on the Welsh Government to listen to and cooperate with farmers and consider the implications for the Welsh language while revising its Sustainable Farming Scheme.

According to the movement, the job losses that would result from the Scheme in its current form would worsen other problems facing rural Welsh-speaking communities, including depopulation and a shortage of affordable houses to buy and rent.

Robat Idris, Deputy Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Sustainable Communities Group, said:

“43% of workers in the agricultural sector are Welsh speakers, the highest of any industry in Wales and it is an industry that is particularly strong in the language’s strongholds. Associated businesses are also among those who make the most use of the Welsh language. We share farmers’ concerns about job losses in the field as a result of the Government’s Sustainable Farming Plan, as is being warned by agricultural unions.

“The farming industry as it is is not sustainable unless farms turn into agri-businesses, and lose contact with the land. The Government’s plans could intensify the problem and force more farmers from the land, exacerbating depopulation which is already a problem due to a lack of houses to buy and rent within the reach of people on local wages.

“We are also concerned that non-agricultural land in Wales is being bought by foreign companies who want to take advantage of grants to plant trees, in order to sell the carbon credit to companies with a high carbon footprint. This sacrifices the farms of Wales on the public relations altar of polluting industries, which are given free rein.

“There is also the danger that all this will be lost as some take advantage of the farmers’ protest to push an anti-devolution and right-wing agenda.”

According to Cymdeithas yr Iaith, a number of elements in the Sustainable Farming Scheme would also go completely against any long-term vision and action to maintain the economy and culture of Wales as well as the Welsh language, contrary to the Government’s aim of one million Welsh speakers by 2050 as well as the Well-being of Future Generations Act. The organization questions the purpose of this legislation if Government policies and fiscal decisions undermine them.

According to Robat Idris:

“Nobody is satisfied with the current situation, so when revisiting and revising the scheme, the Welsh Government must listen to and work together with farmers to ensure there are no negative implications for communities.

“A truly inspiring vision could include methods of supporting not only farmers but also the wider society – it’s high time to reconnect people with the food on their plates. We see no future for family farms in the long term without us restoring the relationship between country and town in order to supply the environmental and social blessings of having healthy food produced here. That would be a real Green Wales.”

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