19 January 2001
Country kids spell out rural facts

By Robert Davies

CHILDREN at a tiny village school joined farming professionals to spell out the facts of rural life to Welsh rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones.

Mr Jones also heard from farmers as well as other local businessmen when he visited Ysbyty Ifan in Caernarfonshire on Friday (19 January).

His guide was Glyn Roberts, county chairman of the Farmers Union of Wales, who presented him with evidence about the impact of the farming crisis.

Mr Jones was told that 31 of the children in the school had some connection with farming, and 24 were the sons and daughters of farmers.

“Farmers not only produce food, we also produce the people who live in the rural communities and contribute towards the future of the race, the language and the culture,” said Mr Roberts, who farms at Dylasau Uchaf, Padog.

The recession in agriculture had already taken its toll, he added. The local shop had closed and the post office opened only on Thursday morning.

Mr Roberts said the local veterinary surgery was doing far less farm work as New Zealand-type low-input, easy-care methods were introduced.

Wynnstay and Clwyd Farmers reported a 20% fall in the value of sales. Estate agent Bryn Davies said farmers who quit did not have any money to buy houses.

Mr Robertss gave Mr Jones a report which emphasised how much the rural economy and infrastructure depended on farming.

Without a fair income, farmers would disappear one by one, as would rural businesses, schools, ancillary industries, chapels and local groups, he said.

Almost 30 organisations use the village hall at some time during the year.

It is a village of strong spirit, culture and song. But it is questionable how long the community could last if the farming crisis continues, said Mr Roberts.

“We are not selfish and asking for huge subsidies for ourselves, we are only asking for fair play for the industry so communities like Ysbyty Ifan can survive.”