Keeping the farming voice on the Welsh political agenda

Farming unions are already making plans for campaigning during the run up to Welsh Assembly elections next May.

The Farmers Union of Wales will target all candidates as soon at they are selected, and will aim to get as many as possible on to members’ farms.

“More and more responsibility for agricultural issues is being devolved,” said spokesman Alan Morris. “It is imperative that politicians appreciate the importance of the rural economy and, in particular, the vital role of family farms.

“Without help, the structure of Welsh farming will collapse like a pack of cards. The next generation of farmers will be lost unless there is action to ease the problems they face. We have to get the message over to politicians at election time when they are their most accessible.”

NFU Cymru will also lobby for family units by featuring people like Andrew Lloyd, who farms at Cefn-y-Blaen, Painscastle, on the Wales-England border.

“Family farms are struggling to cope with rising costs, and many are ready to give up,” said Mr Lloyd, chairman of the union’s Brecon and Radnor branch. “Since 2001 red diesel has doubled in price to 40p/litre, and nitrogen has gone up from £115 to £155/t.

“Fallen stock disposal now costs us £1000 a year, we are spending £300 a year disposing of plastic, and TB pre-movement testing of cattle costs £10 a head.

“Now the assembly plans to get rid of Tir Mynydd payments to hill farmers, which would cut our total farm income by 15%. Ideally we would like to survive on market returns not undermined by inferior imports.

Until that is possible, withdrawing Tir Mynydd would be another nail in the coffin of Welsh family farms.”

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