Agriculture in Wales
has in the past been a major part of the economy of Wales
, a largely rural country that forms part of the United Kingdom
. Wales is mountainous and has a mild, wet climate. This results in only a small proportion of the land area being suitable for arable cropping, but grass for the grazing of livestock
is present in abundance. As a proportion of the national economy, the importance of agriculture has become much reduced; a high proportion of the population now live in the towns and cities in the south of the country and tourism
has become an important form of income in the countryside and on the coast. Arable cropping is limited to the flatter parts and elsewhere dairying and livestock farming predominate.
Holdings in Wales tend to be small and operated as family farms. Arable crops and horticulture
are limited to southeastern Wales, the Welsh Marches
, the northeastern part of the country, the coastal fringes and larger river valleys. Eighty percent of the country is classified as being in a "Less favoured area". Dairying takes place on improved pasture in lowland areas and beef cattle and sheep are grazed on the uplands and more marginal land. Much of the land at higher elevations is extensive sheepwalk country and is grazed by hardy Welsh Mountain sheep
that roam at will. As with other parts of the United Kingdom, farming has been under great pressure, leading to declines in the number of people employed on the land, the amalgamation of holdings and an increase in part-time farming. Farmhouses have been used for bed-and-breakfast or converted into self-catering accommodation, and farmers have diversified into tourism-related and other activities. Agriculture in Wales is heavily subsidised by the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy
, and the Welsh government has introduced several schemes designed to encourage the farming community to co-operate in caring for their land in an environmentally sustainable way. Read more...