4 May 2000
Farmers are under siege — Parry
By Robert Davies/b>
POLITICIANS, supermarkets and banks were prime targets for the presidential address at the annual meeting of the Farmers Union of Wales.
Union president Bob Parry said farmers, communities and the rural way of life were under siege from politicians who failed to recognise the value of farming.
Supermarkets were squeezing the life out of producers despite record profits, he told the meeting at Aberystwyth on Thursday (4 May).
“We are under siege from some animal welfare groups, who want a total ban on out highly regulated live export trade, while they ignore wholesale breaches of welfare regulation in other parts of the world.
“Our sheep farmers are under siege from the Ministry of Defence, who prefer to import lamb from abroad to feed our troops than give them top-quality Welsh lamb.”
In the chase for profits, banks and other organisations ignored loyal customers and put traditional rural life under siege by closing local branches.
Rural dwellers felt threatened by the closure of police stations and judges who handed out adequate sentences to those responsible for rising rural crime.
Westminster politicians came under fire for refusing to claim all available agri-money compensation, and failing to reduce the high value of Sterling.
Mr Parry urged Chancellor Gordon Brown to use some of the governments 22 billion mobile phone licence windfall to assist farming.
And, with First Secretary Rhodri Morgan listening, Mr Parry accused the Welsh National Assembly of dithering over key farming issues.
“The impression [is] that the Assembly is either unwilling or unable to take meaningful decisions,” he said.
But Mr Parry claimed farmers were winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the public, who want a fairer deal for farmers.
Consumers were becoming fed up with rip-off Britain, and could see that farmers were being ripped off by the same companies.
Farmers needed to be equal business partners with supermarkets and not subordinates whose prices could be lowered at a whim.
If a product like milk was sold as a loss leader, the price cuts must not be passed back to producers, Mr Parry concluded.