COMMENTS made by the First Minister that Welsh farmers won’t get subsidies if they can’t be justified to "Bangladeshi tax drivers" in Cardiff have been slammed by his political rivals.
The Welsh Government has set up a new subsidy scheme to replace EU-based funding from 2025, with measures to protect biodiversity and the need for Welsh farmers to cover at least 10 per cent of their land with trees to access the money.
Farming unions have raised concerns over the details of the new funding scheme.
First Minister Mark Drakeford, speaking to BBC Wales this week, said: "If you wish to take advantage of that money, if you want to have help from the Welsh taxpayer, then you will have to find a way of bringing yourself within the scheme that allows me, as the First Minister, to justify to Bangladeshi taxi drivers in Riverside (Cardiff), where I live, why they should pay their taxes in order to support farmers in Wales."
Reacting to the comments, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds said: "The First Minister’s comments today are disrespectful to the farming community and show a lack of understanding from Welsh Labour of both rural communities and the work farmers do to put food on our plates.
“Food security is vital to Wales, especially given the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising food poverty in Wales.
“Farming is also vital to the Welsh economy, supporting a whole chain of other businesses in the rural economy in particular.”
Shadow Rural Affairs Minister for the Conservatives and MS for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Samuel Kurtz MS said: “I find it astonishing that the First Minister has chosen the first Royal Welsh Show in three years to demonstrate a level of disregard for out farming industry.
“Not only is agriculture a pillar of the Welsh economy, it is the lifeblood of communities up and down the country, playing a central role in our culture and preserving the Welsh language.
“Welsh farmers contribute significantly to Wales’ economy, as the bedrock of our £7 billion food and drink industry as primary producers, and as the cornerstone of the wider rural economy.
“So, when Mark Drakeford said farmers should do something that taxpayers are willing to invest in, I would simply say that without them, our food and drink industry and rural economy would suffer immense damage.
“I have long said farming needs a friend, and it seems Labour are making it very clear it does not want to be that friend. The Welsh Conservatives will always stand by the farmers of Wales.”