Campaigners have warned that proposed changes to farm support could destroy the Welsh language at a community level.
Ministers are currently consulting on how farm payments will change following Brexit. Among the Welsh Government’s proposals, there are recommendations to make payments open to everyone, not just farmers; to place more emphasis on using land for forestry and tourism; and to end the basic payment scheme, which sustains many small farms.
According to the 2011 Census, 40% of agriculture workers spoke Welsh – the highest of any profession in the country.
Robat Idris from language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith commented:
"With the emphasis on using Wales’ land from forestry and tourism, it appears that the Government wants to take us to a nightmare scenario where the Welsh language dies with fewer and fewer vibrant communities left in rural areas. We're very concerned that our devolved government has opened the door to offering generous subsidy to people, companies and bodies outside of Wales to destroy our country's rural areas.
"As a group that stood with the miners in the 1980s, we see a major danger that the policies and principles in the consultation document would lead to economic and linguistic devastation similar to the devastation witnessed by those communities that were dependent on the coal industry.”
"The agricultural industry is hugely important to rural communities and the Welsh language. The percentage of farm workers who speak Welsh is higher than in any other sector in the country. Considering the families these people support, tens of thousands of Welsh speakers are directly dependent on the industry to support them.
"The number of communities where Welsh is spoken by the majority are very dependent on farming. The vast majority are in the west, mid and northern parts of the country where up to 27% of the population are employed in agriculture. These are also areas where the share of farm workers who speak Welsh is over 90% in several places. International evidence shows that communities with a high density of speakers of a minoritised language are essential to that language’s survival. That is why we have significant concerns about the changes the Government are proposing.”
The Welsh Government’s consultation “Brexit and our land’ closes at midnight tonight (Tuesday, 30th October).