26 February 1999

Potato growers lesson

FARMERS facing cuts in commodity support could learn a lot from potato growers in Wales, Country Landowners Association president, Ian MacNicol, believes.

During a visit to West Orielton Farm, Pembroke, he claimed that the way local growers coped with the volatile conditions of their unsubsidised open market could be a blueprint for others during the post-Agenda 2000 era.

He applauded their improved market awareness, their sensitivity to specialist consumer demand, and their efforts to harmonise demand and supply. As well as supporting the grower controlled marketing co-op Puffin Potatoes, the producers also supported the British Potato Councils efforts to promote their product.

"We believe this balance of national and local marketing initiatives is the way forward," said Mr MacNicol. "We need national marketing strategies in all production sectors, backed by local schemes in which farmers and growers are fully involved and are always ready to respond to the demands and every changing choices of the consumer."

Farmers could strengthen and re-vitalise their industry by working together. &#42