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Farmers urged to use their votes

Created on 30/12/2010 @ 12:57

Farmers in the Newtown area are being urged to influence the political landsacpe of Wales during 2011.

In his annual New Year's message Ed Bailey, president of NFU Cymru called on farmers to use the March elections and referendum to imrpove rural Wales.

“2011 is a year when each and every one of us has an opportunity to influence the political landscape of Wales. With a referendum on further law making powers for the National Assembly in March, followed by elections for the National Assembly and a referendum on changing the way in which Westminster Parliament is elected in May, it will be a year when politicians, more than ever, will want to listen to the views of their electorate," he said.

"I implore members to take full advantage of these opportunities to progress the interests of Wales’ rural areas.
“My first wish for 2011 is that we will eventually see the makings of a Glastir scheme that fits the aspirations of farmers, government and society. Whether it does or not will largely depend on whether the Rural Affairs Minister is prepared to listen and act upon the advice and guidance of the independent review group.

"Whilst the review will only cover the All Wales Element (AWE) of the scheme, I hope that the same principle of actively involving and listening to practitioners will filter through to ensure that the problems encountered with the AWE will not be replicated within the common land element of the scheme or indeed the targeted or ACRES elements.
“2010 was a year of very mixed emotions in our battle to eradicate bovine TB from Wales. The first half of the year was filled with optimism because at last we had the powers to implement a comprehensive eradication programme for Wales. This was followed by the frustration and disappointment of the appeal court decision in July.
"Finally hope returned with a consultation on a new badger control order for the Intensive Action Area.
“I now look forward to an early and positive decision from the Rural Affairs Minister that will put bovine TB eradication firmly back on track. Despite the setbacks, I take heart from the continued support of all four political parties in Cardiff Bay and whatever the shape or form of the next government I am confident that with the powers in place, 2011 will be the beginning of the end for bovine TB in Wales.
“With regards to the milk price – dairy farmers in Wales have faced a particularly difficult 12 months. NFU Cymru has repeatedly highlighted concern over the sustainability of Welsh milk production unless milk buyers take action to deliver a fairer deal for dairy farmers. The situation in Wales is particularly precarious because so few of our farmers are able to benefit from a dedicated supply chain relationship with a major retailer. Until we begin to see some commitment from retailers to set up relationships for milk destined for cheese production we remain particularly exposed to the dysfunctional dairy market place.
“Our New Year’s message to milk buyers whether they are in the retail, food service or commodity market is the same – farm gate milk prices should be going up and anything other than an urgent price increase will not be tolerated. We will make our message heard loud and clear and take whatever responsible actions are required to make sure farmers’ voices are heard.
“As for the livestock sector, the Food Standards Agency’s proposals to transfer nearly £32 million of costs to the UK meat industry will have a massive impact on livestock producers and processors in Wales. Retailers in these difficult economic times will not pass this cost on to the consumer which means that the bill will fall firmly back at the foot of industry.
 “There is no doubt that a number of our smaller and more remote abattoirs in Wales, which provide an invaluable service to local butchers and artisan producers, and upon which the niche market part of the Welsh food strategy depends, will struggle to survive unless this proposal is reviewed.
“2011 will see a ramping up of discussions and negotiations on both the policy and the budget for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2013. These will be difficult, complex and long negotiations but ones that are crucial to almost every farming business in Wales. NFU Cymru will ensure that whenever and wherever important discussions and decisions are being made, whether in Wales, London or out in Brussels, we will be there influencing and lobbying to ensure the best possible outcome for farmers in Wales. NFU Cymru will do its utmost to use every available opportunity to push forward the views of our members.
“NFU Cymru is constantly striving to meet the best interests and particular needs of its members at a time when all sectors of the economy are feeling the pinch we will continue to fight to ensure that farming matters are at the top of the agenda in the year ahead.”