Brexit policy ‘will kill the Welsh language’
THE Assembly Government’s reaction to Brexit could be the biggest threat to the Welsh language since the miners’ strike says a pressure group.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Robat Idris was speaking in response to the ‘Brexit and our land’ public consultation, which sets out proposals for Welsh agriculture after exiting the EU.
The request for people’s views from the Welsh Assembly Government closed at midnight last Tuesday and received heavy criticism from farming unions for not going far enough to support rural communities reliant on agriculture.
Mr Idris claims the strategy outlined in the consultation is too reliant on forestry and tourism - threatening Welsh speaking farming communities - calling it a “nightmare scenario” for the language.
With 40% of Wales’ 29,000 farm workers native speakers, the organisation fears losing agricultural jobs will destroy Welsh-speaking societies.
Mr Idris said: “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 that witnessed by those communities which were dependent on the coal industry. With the emphasis on using Wales’ land from forestry and tourism, it appears the Government wants to take us to the nightmare scenario where the Welsh language dies, with fewer and fewer vibrant communities left in rural areas.”
Mr Idris went on to say he feared the Welsh Assembly Government had opened the door to subsidising companies and groups from outside Wales who would “destroy our country’s rural areas.”
He said: “The percentage of farm workers who speak Welsh is higher than in any other sector in the country.
“Considering the families these thousands of people support, tens of thousands of Welsh speakers are directly dependent on the industry to support them.”
Cymdeithas yr Iaith says Welsh-speaking communities predominantly rely on farming, with the vast majority found in mid, west and north Wales.
In some areas, said Mr Idris, the share of farm workers who speak Welsh reached as high as 90%.
He added: “International evidence shows these communities, with a high density of speakers of a minoritised language, are essential to the language’s survival.
“That’s why we have significant concerns about the changes the Government is proposing.”
The ‘Brexit and our land’ consultation ran from July 10 to October 30.
It sought views from stakeholders on post-Brexit Welsh agricultural policy.
Central to the proposals is land management, with no direct replacement for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, which has drawn criticism from Welsh farming unions, farmers and agricultural workers.