ENHANCING THE IMAGE

16 July 1999




ENHANCING THE IMAGE

OF WELSH RED MEAT

A new all-Wales livestock

marketing co-op aims to

give farmers more control

over what happens beyond

their farm gate

SUPPORTERS of a new all-Wales livestock marketing co-operative will be among the many hoping to part farmers from their cash at the show.

The Welsh Food Strategys red meat group will follow up meetings with producers from all over Wales with an appeal for cash for a set up giving farmers more control over what happens beyond their farm gates. Huw Thomas, MLCs Wales manager, who was seconded for three months to develop the idea, believes that the majority of producers support the principle.

"The co-op will build on the initiatives already taken by existing groups, and could help ease the misery of low prices. It will enhance the image of Welsh red meat and exploit the achievements of Farm Assured Welsh Livestock. Producers can also see that for the first time the Welsh Development Agency has an agriculture budget, and that the new Welsh Assembly is in favour of the development."

Mr Thomas also cites the availability of EU structural funding, the keenness of Welsh co-operative requisite societies to get involved in processing that adds value to their members primary products, and the fact that some abattoirs are looking to improve their procurement of livestock.

But he admits there are negatives, including apathy and memories of previous livestock co-operative failures. His meetings have also shown implacable opposition from auctioneers.

Brecon Beacons

At the recent launch of Brecon Beacons Lamb Producers, a small co-operative that would come under the umbrella of a national co-op, Mr Thomas warned that if a Welsh farming organisation did not apply for available Objective 1 funding for local processing facilities commercial companies and the Irish would grab the money.

At the Royal Welsh, producers will be invited to purchase £75 equity shareholdings in the new co-operative, and agree to pay 60p for each breeding ewe they own. So a farm with 500 ewes would commit £375 to the scheme. Units with cattle would also pay a £6 levy on each animal sold through the co-operative.


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