Farmers in Powys have warned that many in the industry are being pushed to the limit “mentally as well as financially”.

Multiple factors have put severe pressure one of the county’s most prominent industries.

Jonathan Wilkinson, a third-generation dairy farmer from Meifod found the squeeze began to hit early 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine which saw a severe rise in costs.

Milk prices have since risen more in the last year than they have over the course of the previous 33 years to compensate – which Mr Wilkinson claims kept the dairy industry afloat – but he is still facing challenges.

“The costs are unimaginable,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“Fertiliser is a good example. 12 months ago I would pay around £240 per ton for nitrogen fertiliser that reached £950 per ton in the autumn, it has crept back now to around £700-750 but even with that it has more than trebled.”


Mr Wilkinson said the “gamechanger” to costs coming up is the renegotiation of electricity contracts, adding: “We were paying 15p per kwh by sheer bad luck we were on a three-year contract that was up for renewal for October.

"If we hadn’t renewed our contract, we would have been on £1.20 per kwh which is clearly ludicrous and crippling.”

Since then, his farm have managed to negotiate 62p per kwh – quadruple the original bill.

“Those are about to hit us whilst they are capped until spring, which keeps it at 35p per kwh - what happens after then, god only knows,” said Mr Wilkinson.

County Times: Jonathan WilkinsonJonathan Wilkinson (Image: Powys County Council)

Sharon Hammond runs a family beef, sheep and poultry business in Disserth, Radnorshire and has faced many of the same issues and said the lifting of the energy cap will hit farms “like a steam train”.

Ms Hammond said the hot, dry summer of 2022 had a devastating impact on her and other farmers she knows.

“It’s made life even more difficult because the one thing we do have plenty of in Wales is rain hence plenty of grass hence that’s why we are a livestock area – and we haven’t even got that anymore,” said Mrs Hammond.

This has led to a huge knock-on effect for farmers as the winter and spring as sileage stocks used for feed were massively reduced and root crops used to feed lambs in March also failed.  This means many will have to buy feed throughout the winter months, even though the cost of most feed has spiked due to the Ukraine war.

Mr Wilkinson, who also acts as chair of the Welsh Dairy board, said this is having a massive toll on many farmers who are overextended financially.

“A lot of farmers have expanded businesses and taken out loans to do that. When you have payments based on the level of production, if things come along that don’t deliver you that profit then suddenly you’re not able to make payments. That is undoubtedly causing stress.”

This stress is having a huge effect on the health of farmers. According to a Farm Safety Foundation study early last year 92 per cent of farmers under the age of 40 said poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today whilst an R.A.B.I Big Farming Survey from the same time revealed that 36 per cent of the farming community in the UK are ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ depressed.

Mrs Hammond added: “I am and try to be a glass half full person but even the most optimistic person has a limit. For farmers it really is putting the pressure on mentally as well as financially. Occasionally I do utter ‘for goodness sake just give us a break.’”