15 April 1999
No farming please, we’re Welsh

A GUIDE to the National Assembly for Wales delivered to every Welsh household makes no mention of farming.

The 10-page Their Future Your Vote bilingual publication lists 10 key sectors for which the assembly will be responsible, including the environment, but ignores the fact that the new body will be responsible for spending around £260m/year on agriculture.

Powys farmer Derek Morgans response to the Welsh Office booklet was typical. As heavy snow disrupted lambing at Safan-y-Coed, Llangurig, he described the omission of farming as disgusting, but no surprise.

“This is just another example of the way the contribution of agriculture to food production and the rural economy is being increasingly devalued,” said Mr Morgan, who chairs the Farmers Union of Waless hill farming committee.

“Politicians and civil servants are interested in the countryside, but only from an environmental standpoint.”

Peredur Hughes, vice-president of NFU Cymru-Wales, said many angry members had contacted him about the booklet. He had complained on their behalf to the Welsh Office, but said he had received the apathetic response usually made to farming issues.

“We are campaigning to push agriculture higher up the Welsh Assemblys agenda and have published an election manifesto,” said Mr Hughes.

“Missing out farming from this publication illustrates the monumental task we face. Some 80% of the land of Wales lies north of a line drawn east to west through Merthyr Tydfil, but 80% of the population lives to the south.

Most assembly members will represent people with little interest in farmings problems.”