Farmers First share offer success

28 July 2000

Farmers First share offer success

By Robert Davies

FARMERS First, the meat and livestock export company, has raised more than 750,000 since it launched its offer in early July.

Unlike the Welsh Meat Company, a high-profile initiative that failed to attract interest, Farmers First has easily doubled its 400,000 target.

At the Royal Welsh Show this week, Terry Bayliss, Farmers First chairman, had harsh words for Welsh First Secretary Rhodri Morgan.

Mr Morgan had criticised Welsh farmers for not backing the Welsh Meat Company initiative which was backed by the Welsh Development Agency.

But Mr Bayliss said: Welsh farmers have been wrongly accused of failing to take responsibility for developing their own industry.

He added: The backing for the Farmers First plc share offer proves that farmers are concerned about their futures and prepared to commit themselves to commercially viable initiatives with a track record rather than to empty promises and dreams.

We agree with Mr Morgan that doing nothing is not an option, but it is unfair to accuse them of sitting tight and hoping things will improve. Politicians with responsibility for agriculture need to get a grip on reality.

Mr Bayliss said his company had not received grant aid, while public funding had been lavished on the Welsh Meat Company.

He expressed contempt for what he described as institutional supertankers that dogged the industry, squandered money but failed to perform.

Huge sums of money had been drawn from public taxes and producers in the form of levies and given to administrators with little commercial understanding.

These failed to recognise that Farmers Ferry had already shipped 886,000 live sheep from Wales. Farmers Fresh is already exporting Welsh lambs.

Supporters of the Welsh Meat Company, which failed to attract the 1000 farmer investors required by its prospectus, claim the project can be resurrected.

Provisional directors confirmed that they are in talks with at least three major Welsh abattoir operators, existing livestock groups and supply co-operatives.

Chairman John Davies said only 14 of the 720 farmers who committed 250 to the company had refused to leave their un-cashed cheques on file.

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