23 January 1998

…And farming leaders pledge support

LEADERS from across the farming industry joined the NFU rally on Tuesday in a show of unity.

National Trust chairman Charles Nunneley said the trust was proud of the opportunities it NT had made available to get new entrants into farming. But that would be jeopardised in future if people were no longer confident that there was a decent living to be made from farming.

With 700 tenants, half of them in the uplands, he said the NT wanted to see a stable, integrated support policy for its farmers. Without that, they could not continue to be the custodians of the countryside.

Ian MacNicol, president of the CLA, said it was time for Labour to live up to its claims to be the party of the countryside by applying for green £ compensation – as all other eligible countries had.

Referring to the Ministry of Defences purchase of South American beef for the armed forces, John Davies, chairman of the Welsh Young Farmers Club, said the government seemed to know the price of everything but the value of nothing. Irrespective of the environmental cost, it still bought beef from countries which continued to chop down rainforests. "What we want is fair trade not aid," he insisted.

Meg Stroude, president of the Womens Farming Union, added her full support for the rally and said her members would continue to press for better labelling of all British food products.

Jake Vowles, director general of the Agricultural Engineers Association, extended his support to the distressed farming industry. Associated industries were also hurting because of the strength of the £, he said.

Catherine Hughes

But the machinery industry depended on a thriving farming business. So it was in everyones interest to keep Britain farming.