AN IRISH farmers’ leader has told Prime Minister Tony Blair to keep his hands off the CAP.
Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show, Malcolm Thompson, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association president, demanded to know why Mr Blair and Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett were not visiting the show.
“Are the farmers of Wales unimportant except as pawns in their political games?” he asked.
Welsh and Irish farmers were proud of their work and should be recognised as the backbone of their nations, he said.
“Without backbones we are nothing but jelly fish. Money spent on farming is well spent and I am angry that Mr Blair has called for reform of the CAP just months after his government signed up to radical reform.”
In contrast farmers were honourable people used to making deals and sticking to them. Mr Blair should not use money that farmers were justly entitled to as a bargaining lever for the British rebate, he said.
“Farmers are not for sale. You seek to rubbish an agreement fairly entered into before the ink is dry, shame on you!”
Mr Thompson was speaking at a ceremony to mark the new Terracelt internet site going on line. Launched jointly with the Farmers Union of Wales and funded by £350,000 from the EU’s Interreg Fund, the site provides a market place for farmers to sell directly to consumers and to get advice on diversification.