05 February 1999
Call for new Welsh meat plant

A SENIOR NFU official is campaigning for a new meat plant in mid-Wales.

Gwynfor Jones, chairman of Ceredigion county branch, acknowledges failed previous attempts by farmers to get involved in the meat industry. But he claims that the power wielded by big retailers has changed the position of both producers and processors.

“We all have to co-operate and take marketing much more seriously,” says Mr Jones, who farms 228ha (563 acres) with his two sons at Capel Bangor, near Aberystwyth.

“Our stock should be processed in the area and sold on as value-added products. We also need facilities to chill and store lambs reaching peak markets for release to compete with New Zealand imports.”

He will meet other NFU chairmen to consider applying for EU Objective 1 funding, to assess whether farmers would match any grants obtained, and to discuss the feasibility of a joint venture with a meat company.

With the industry in crisis, Mr Jones admits it is a bad time to ask farmers to find venture capital for any project beyond the farm gate. But he believes many share his view that livestock producers must increase their marketing strength.

He has seen the benefits of that in the 8p/kg deadweight premium he gets for supplying cattle from his 120 cow suckler herd to the Welsh Black Marketing Group.

While still supporting the principle of livestock auctions, he is a committed deadweight seller and thinks more producers would feel the same if they were co-owners of the buying plant.