17 June 1999
Minister told of farmers’ fears

By FWi staff

A GROUP of family farmers has warned agriculture minister Nick Brown that many small-scale producers will go bust unless he takes urgent action.

Representatives of the Small and Family Farmers Alliance met with Mr Brown earlier this week, urging him to amend his policies if family farms are to survive.

The farmers were not begging for handouts but said the system of supporting farmers should be adjusted so it did not massively favour big agri-businesses.

The group, shaken by news of two more suicides by farmers in Wales and the south-west, spoke of the general publics widespread support for their cause.

They also claim support from environmental and conservation groups, including the Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

John Cousins, the Wildlife Trusts director of agricultural policy, told Farmers Weekly he totally supported the groups approach.

“We believe farm amalgamations are a backward step for the countryside in any part of Britain,” he said.

“We want more support money moved to environmental work, such as hedge and wall maintenance, and payments at realistic levels for the work involved so that it makes a real contribution to the familys income.”