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Iolo Williams: ‘We are killing rural Wales and things have to change’

06 Feb 2023 4 minute read
Photo by nmahieu is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“We are killing rural Wales and things have to change,” says ornithologist and television presenter Iolo Williams on the eve of the Senedd debate on the Agriculture (Wales) Bill.

Sustainable Land Management is the framework of the proposed new Bill and according to the Welsh Government they are committed to supporting farmers to lower their carbon footprint whilst producing food in tune with nature.

For the first time the Senedd is considering legislation to introduce, what Welsh Government calls a “made in Wales” agricultural policy.

There are implications for farmers, the environment, the economy and culture.


Having witnessed the destruction of 40 metres of hedgerow in Powys over the weekend, Iolo Williams was scathing.

“We need better regulations to safeguard our hedgerows! Very often, the only place wildlife has is the hedgerows and they’re being abused the length and breadth of Wales.”

Mr Williams hastened to add that many farmers need to be congratulated for planting new hedgerows as well as looking after established ones.

“But there are plenty of examples of hedgerows being destroyed” he added.

Speaking with Nation.Cymru as he took part in a guided tour around north Wales, Mr Williams – who had just spotted fresh otter tracks, said:

“Things have to change and we cannot continue as we are. We are polluting our rivers and our wildlife is in non-stop decline. We are killing rural Wales, without doubt so we need something that completely changes the situation (in this Bill).”

Farming unions

Mr Williams says he believes that farmers need to be paid to be guardians of wildlife. This was happening “to some extent” when Wales was part of the European Union, he said.

“But it was not enough and there were far bigger payments for intensive farming.”

Side by side with the need to protect nature goes the need for food production, says Mr Williams.

“We have to produce food – we just have to. There are many examples now of how nature and food production go hand in hand.”

The Agricultural (Wales) Bill has to be done right at the very start continued Mr Williams.

“We don’t need a weak grant system that amounts to nothing. Farmers want to see changes as well – it’s not just conservation organisations who are calling for change.

“To be perfectly honest – and I know this is going to wind some people up – in my dealings with the Farming Unions I’ve often found that it can be hard going. It’s much easier to deal directly with farmers themselves.”

Not one to shy away from plain speaking Mr Williams added: “I’m not sure that the unions, these days, represent farmers as they should.

“Who makes money out of farming these days? It’s large corporations – the big companies and so on. They make more money than anyone else.”


Responding to Mr Williams comments, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We have never met with Iolo Williams, so it’s difficult to interpret what he means by ‘my dealings with the farming unions’. Our policies are formulated and voted on by scores of committees made up of farmers of all types from across Wales, as you’d expect would be the case in a democratic organisation.

“We share Mr Williams’ concerns about large corporations in the supply chain that in some cases take more than their fair share away from family farms – but Welsh farms certainly do not fit in to that category – Welsh farm payments are tapered and capped, unlike in England, and it is notable that the recipients of the largest sums of public funding through the Common Agricultural Policy are environmental charities.”

“We would be happy to meet with Mr Williams to discuss his concerns further – we already have an excellent relationship with a host of environmental organisations and share corresponding views on the vast majority of topics discussed during our meetings.”

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

Isn’t amazing that we should have to pay farmers to stop them from helping ruin Cymru? Am I the only one that finds this insane?

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

What excuse did Stalin and Mao Tse Tung have to say that farmers were ruining The Soviet Union and The PR of China.

1 year ago

Someone can see the real truth about the disequilibrium in our agriculture –

“Who makes money out of farming these days? It’s large corporations – the big companies and so on. They make more money than anyone else.”

That’s one of our biggest problems. The purchasing power of these big corps is putting the squeeze on farmers most of whom are family enterprises, SME’s, and has driven them to some practices which can be reversed with a more balanced supply/demand relationship.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  hdavies15

It reminded me of what a postman (he was a man) said to me the other day. He was describing a morning ‘team talk’ that went “our customers are Amazon, Next” etc and not the addressee so prioritise parcels and forget the letters…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

A televised open debate between all parties, I’d be surprised if Iolo did not accept the invitation at a location of Iolo’s choosing…

Not in Powys though, on account of the thugs for hire: the hen-boys, with their pick-axe handles at the slope…

1 year ago

If you look at maps of rural areas a hundred years ago, you’ll get an idea of how much housing has been lost. Sustainability can only be based on more people living and working in rural areas.

1 year ago
Reply to  Cath

You having a laugh. Housing is destroying Wales.

1 year ago
Reply to  Lenn

It is destroying Wales and every where else

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