Rees Roberts, chairman of Hybu Cig Cymu (Meat Promotion Wales) told industry stakeholders at the Royal Welsh Show that Welsh farmers were finding it very difficult to cope with soaring feed and fertilizer costs.

“In the twelve months up to May of this year, fertilizer rose by 140 per cent and feed by 40%,” Mr Roberts claimed. “HCC’s latest figures for May show that in just one month fertilizer rose 14 per cent and feed 2%.

“Yes, farm gate prices have risen year-on-year by around 35 per cent, but the huge rises in costs have undermined those gains and are very hard to bear for any business.

“With no short term indications of any downwards movement, it is important that the whole industry plays a part in how we adapt to these new cost and price conditions.”

Equitable solution

Wales was uniquely placed to deliver an equitable solution across the whole of the supply chain. The Welsh Red Meat Industry Strategic Action Plan, coupled with HCC’s responsibility for bringing together and supporting the whole of the red meat supply chain, offered Wales an opportunity to build a team game to help combat market volatility.

He voiced concerns over food security in the wake of the Doha Round of trade talks. Low world prices for food from lower cost producers in other countries have scant regard for the strict standards and regulations that operated in Wales gave even the most efficient, cost-conscious Welsh livestock producers new production and marketing challenges.

“They don’t share our environmental and animal welfare standards, they don’t meet our well-monitored production standards and they won’t match our labour costs.”

Any attempted quick fix of the economies of emerging nations would only open the European floodgates to cheap, unrestricted imports that fell far short of the high levels of production, welfare, labour and environmental standards in Wales.

He urged producers to meet the consumer needs of the ever-growing and divergent markets now available to Welsh products. By targeting these markets, farmers would put more pounds into their pockets. It was where the future of the industry rested and well worth considering.