Adam Price AM has called out the Welsh government’s decision to no longer communicate by post with farmers in the delivery of the Rural Payments Scheme, despite the growing gulf in digital connectivity between rural areas and the rest of Wales.
Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price AM had made representations on behalf of the farming community to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs expressing concerns that insufficient mobile and broadband infrastructure in rural communities undermines rural businesses’ and farmers’ long-term viability.
Mr Price said that farmers in his constituency have been notified that the Rural Payments Scheme will no longer communicate with recipients by post, but instead via phone and email. This is despite improvements in digital infrastructure not progressing as quickly as it should, with Carmarthenshire currently the third worst Local Authority area in Wales in terms of broadband coverage.
Branding the move as “irresponsible”, the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Assembly Member has called on the Labour Welsh Government to “rapidly re-evaluate its decision” to no longer communicate with farmers by post.
Adam Price AM, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Finance, said:
“The Labour Welsh government needs to rapidly re-evaluate its decision for the Rural Payments Scheme to no longer communicate by post in the context of chronic underinvestment in rural digital and mobile connectivity.
“It is simply irresponsible to deny farmers access to the Rural Payments Scheme when they have no other choice other than to communicate via post, as mobile and digital connectivity is so shockingly poor in rural Wales.
“Rural areas desperately need investment in digital infrastructure, something which my constituency colleague Jonathan Edwards MP and I have made a core objective, holding meetings with BT and mobile phone giants to encourage greater investment to improve coverage.
“The growing digital divide within the Welsh economy is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed through sustained investment so that rural communities are not disadvantaged in terms of access to public services and the economy.
“I have made representations to the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Affairs calling for an assurance that farmers are not penalised and that existing provisions will be in place for those with poor connectivity.”