22 July 1998
Tories press Government on Welsh farming

By Jackie Storer, Press Association

THE Tories accused the Government today of turning its back on students keen to make a career in farming in Wales.

But Welsh Secretary Ron Davies rejected the charge from Tory agriculture spokesman Dr Liam Fox at Commons question time, insisting Welsh farmers now had a Government they could trust.

Dr Fox said it was “astonishing that Labour backbenchers took little interest in countryside issues.

He pressed Mr Ron Davies: “What policies will you introduce to ensure that new entrants can gain access to farming in Wales?

“Do you understand the anxiety of farmers about the next generations prospects of gaining access to the land?

“What can you give them in a positive sense other than sympathy which pays no wages?”

Mr Davies said he and his colleagues had attended the recent Royal Welsh Show to speak to farmers and others who worked in rural areas.

“What I have always maintained to them is that I understand the problems and I will work with them to try to resolve those problems.”

He went on to cite the Governments achievements in agriculture policy, telling Dr Fox: “Weve made sure that the end of the beef ban is now in sight – I would take this opportunity of reminding you that it was your Government that was responsible for the waste of billions of pounds of public money and the collapse of the beef industry, because of your Governments failure to tackle the problems of BSE.

“Weve introduced new initiatives, we have a new food promotion policy, we have new schemes for introducing agri-environmental policies, we are consulting about the restructuring of the agricultural community.”

Mr Davies added: “Theres a new vibrancy afoot in the Welsh countryside and Welsh farmers and people who work in the countryside know that in this Labour Government they have got a government they can trust.”