Fed up with carrying blame

10 September 1999

Fed up with carrying blame

THE tour of Hywel and Iona Elliss 79ha (195 acre) tenanted holding at Cwm Pennanner in Clwyd was less frenetic, but the message was the same.

Mr Ellis and his neighbours said they were fed up with carrying the blame and the cost of every food scare, being exploited by supermarkets and ignored by smug politicians sitting on a huge majority. Now they were also threatened by reform of the LFA support system.

"If a new safety device is fitted to a car, the end buyer pays for it. But when food is involved the farmer always pays," said Mr Ellis. "There is little accurate coverage of our crisis in the general media and the NFU should do much more to put the message across. The farming press is doing a good job but the readers know all about the crisis, they are part of it.

"I have come to the conclusion that trying to talk to politicians, who promised everything before they were elected but dont want to know us now, is probably a waste of time. But I think they will listen if the public are on our side."

He admitted that, on his limited area of land, he was stocked to the hilt to be able to stay in business.

Current proposals to pay on an area basis would reduce his LFA support by £3000 a year at a time when income from his 490 ewes, 150 ewe lambs and 47 suckler had been halved.

He questioned whether sustainable farming was possible at Tai Ucha farm at the present level of income if his wife did not work full time. If subsidies were cut he would have to look for work outside.

"But who wants to employ a 50-year-old man in a rural area where jobs are scarce as it is," he said. "It is fair enough if the government wants us to manage the countryside but we need incentives to do the work. We have tried to improve efficiency and to produce the sort of lambs the market wants, But the price has fallen £20/head below what we were getting three years ago."

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