Don’t overlook family farms, says FUW president

Moves to target UK government-sponsored research at larger farms will compromise the viability of Wales’ most productive holdings, according to one farming leader.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show, Farmers’ Union of Wales president, Emyr Jones, refuted comments made by DEFRA minister, Jim Paice, that smaller farms would not contribute greatly to the growth of food production and productivity.

Mr Paice suggested that for this reason smaller farms would lose out on government-funded research in future.

The FUW has now drawn up a report in response, insisting that this move would have a negative overall impact on agricultural production.

“Under the pre-2005 Common Agricultural Policy, it was Welsh farms with between 30 and 200 hectares (75 and 500 acres) of forage area that were the most productive in Wales and these farms were responsible for around 80% of Welsh production,” said Mr Jones.

“Even in the lowlands, average productivity for farms with 49ha (120 acres) of land was the same as for farms with 385ha (950 acres), while lowland farms of 134ha (330 acres) or smaller were responsible for 75% of Welsh lowland production.”

Mr Jones said these figures highlighted the importance of policies aimed at protecting family farms.

“These farms are where the majority of our food is produced in Wales and we must all strive to ensure it stays that way, otherwise we risk seeing our rural society put back a century, accompanied by a significant risk in terms of food production,” he added.

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