7 September 2001

Welsh farm future draft thrown out

NFU Cymru/Wales has rejected the first draft of the National Assembly for Wales blueprint for the future of farming in Wales.

The document, which contains the assemblys vision of how agriculture might operate in the future, has been issued for consultation.

But the union insists the ideas contained in it will not increase farm incomes and guarantee the survival of the Welsh industry.

When union leaders met rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones at Aberystwyth their unequivocal message was that the vision was impaired and unacceptable.

They insisted the twin themes of co-operation and concentrating on producing a quality product would not be enough to save the industry. &#42

Ieuan Lewis, NFU Welsh parliamentary delegate who farms in Denbigh, said supermarkets were too powerful and should be regulated to prevent them from abusing their position.

He also pointed out the irony that while farmers were being urged to co-operate Milk Marque had been broken up by the government.

Meurig Raymond, NFU Council delegate for Pembrokeshire, said the weakness of the k against the £ was at the heart of Welsh farmings problems.

"Niche markets wont save us. I sell potatoes of the highest quality of the highest quality through the Puffin Produce co-operative. But we dont receive a premium for them because consumers want cheap food."

Monmouthshire county chairman Glyn Williams told Mr Jones that while the assembly called for better marketing there was still no sign of a logo to identify Welsh food – the first step towards creating demand for quality Welsh food.

Other delegates called for tighter import controls and a public sector purchasing scheme that favoured Welsh food.

In response, the minister said getting everyone in the industry to sign up to the document was harder than getting consensus on the Good Friday agreement.