NEIL Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales, and Leader of UKIP Wales, has added his voice to calls for better access to broadband and mobile technology for Welsh farmers.
NFU Cymru, are worried that farmers are being treated as ‘second class citizens’ when it comes to access and is calling for more to be done to put this right.
Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, is demanding action after the findings of the annual NFU Broadband and Mobile Survey, showed 67% of members, quizzed in Wales, said they were not able to access sufficient broadband speeds.
Only 20% of those questioned agreed they could access sufficient speeds, while only 28% said that they felt the mobile phone signal they received, was sufficient for their business needs.
Mr Hamilton, who frequently raises in the Senedd the issue of broadband coverage in his Region, said that the Welsh Government needed to do much more for the farmers and the people of Mid & West Wales.
Last week, Julie James, Leader of the House with responsibility for digital, announced a range of new measures to further extend fast and reliable broadband coverage in Wales, following the completion of the Superfast Cymru project.
The new measures, backed by funding of £80m, include a new rollout scheme currently out to tender which encourages rural delivery, business prioritisation and ultrafast 100Mbps services. Under the scheme solutions will be encouraged in areas suffering the lowest download speeds along with lower 4G mobile data coverage.
Mr Hamilton said: “I was happy to hear last week, that the Welsh Government, is taking steps to improve broadband coverage in my Region. It is long overdue, as my constituents have been consistently failed by the Government and have had to suffer long enough.
“The UK Government’s own minimum acceptable download level is 10 Mbps, but still thousands of people in Powys, and the rest of Mid & West suffer average speeds of less than half that. This is totally unacceptable in the second decade of the 21st century.
“I just hope this new announcement will bring some relief to those who are trying to run a business in these worst affected areas, and to householders who struggle to get a connection.
“Of course Welsh farmers are also being failed by the Government and I am concerned to read the extent of their problems. NFU Cymru have my full support and I look forward to working with them to keep the pressure on Welsh Government to deliver this basic necessity.”
NFU Cymru President John Davies said that the results of the survey confirmed that Welsh farmers are being hindered by access to superfast broadband and mobile technology when it comes to effectively running their businesses.
He said: “Technological advances and access to improved communications platforms should be bringing us all closer together, but the evidence suggests that a divide is forming between rural areas and more urban areas.
“We know it can be immensely frustrating for Welsh farmers to read about the rollout of 5G in towns and cities, for example, when they struggle to complete even the most simple of tasks, such as a phone call to the vet or a supplier, when they are out on farm in Wales due to poor signal and coverage.
“When it comes to access to this essential technology those of us living in rural Wales, are being treated like second class citizens at the moment and it’s simply not good enough