The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has expressed its concerns over a council’s decision to push on with the closure of Cowbridge livestock market, which could see farmers face a 45-mile round trip to sell their animals.
The market, in south Wales, was set to close on March 31, but the site owners, Glamorgan Council, agreed to extend trading because of the coronavirus pandemic under strict social-distancing measures.
But details of the planning application show plans to demolish the mart to create a public car park, potentially leaving Glamorgan without a permanent livestock market.
Pointing to the pressures already facing farmers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, FUW Glamorgan chief executive officer Rachel Saunders said: “We are very concerned that this move will be the end of market trading in Cowbridge, something which will cost our local farmers, already under pressure not just from Covid-19 but also from Brexit.
“When this mart closes some farmers will face a 45 mile trip to sell their stock, which will eat into already dwindling returns on livestock.”
Ms Saunders highlighted the current site provided farmers with an opportunity to sell directly to buyers but claimed its closure would now mean extra costs would be incurred by its members, adding: “The closest alternative is at Raglan, Carmarthen or Brecon.”
She said Cowbridge farmers, who do not have the necessary accreditation, were only allowed to transport their stock for a maximum of 50 km, which means they will have to pay additional haulage costs to sell their produce.
Despite working with the council, Ms Saunders warned FUW was concerned there were no firm plans to relocate the market.
“Our very real fear is that when the site shuts down the new one will never be built, and currently it is understood that there is no guaranteed funding for the new mart.”