Connect with us


Farming communities face ‘unprecedented changes’



Llyr Gruffydd: Shadow Minister for Sustainable Communities, Energy and Food.

Llyr Gruffydd: Shadow Minister
for Sustainable Communities,
Energy and Food.

A PERFECT storm is brewing over Welsh agriculture as financial, economic and bureaucratic burdens conspire to present unprecedented challenges for our farming communities, writes Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Sustainable Communities, Energy and Food. Some of these burdens are out of the direct control of the Welsh Government but many of them are within its power, and indeed some are of its own making. Whilst Plaid Cymru at both Westminster and the European Parliament voted to protect Welsh farmers from cuts to the overall EU budget and subsequently a cut in CAP funding it was clear that Cameron, Clegg and Milliband had different ideas.

The resulting 10% cut to CAP for the 2013-2020 period set the tone for what will be a difficult new settlement for many. Whilst you could argue that this decision was beyond the influence of the Welsh Government the decision to transfer 15% away from direct payments to Welsh farmers was selfinflicted. Given the difficult period of change and economic challenges facing the industry Plaid Cymru had argued for a more modest transfer.

Taking well over a quarter of a billion pounds out of the pockets of Welsh farmers – the maximum allowed by the EU, will be a deeply damaging decision, particularly given that our competitors in other parts of the UK and the EU faced a much more palatable prospect – 12.5% in England, 9.5% in Scotland and 0% in Northern Ireland. Add to this the recently confirmed 7% drop in the exchange rate and you begin to see the scale of challenge facing many of our rural communities in the coming period.

One estimate suggests that a farmer who had received £10,000 in 2013 will receive around £7,879 in 2014 – a 21% drop. This of course comes on the back of the 44% drop in total farm incomes seen over 2013 and the continuing difficulties in farm gate prices for red meat and milk. Given these unprecedented challenges, it is crucial that the Deputy Minister allows farmers time to adapt and offers practical support in doing so. Plaid Cymru for example has consistently called for a dedicated funding scheme for farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC), particularly those farming in the moorlands who face the most challenging conditions.

Farming moorlands has become increasingly difficult and with much reduced CAP funding the decision by the Welsh Government not to act on our calls means for many, it will simply become unviable. Any business facing challenging economic times must be given as much flexibility as possible to respond to those challenges if it is to emerge the other side. Farming is no different. Government has a key role to play in this respect but at the moment progress is patchy and slow. The Working Smarter Agenda has moved this forward but these efforts must be seriously accelerated – starting with scrapping the six day standstill rule.

I accept that budgets have been squeezed but I’m not convinced that the Welsh Government is doing enough to seek out new additional support for the industry. Through our representation on the committee of the regions in Europe for example, Plaid Cymru has been making the case for the European Investment Bank to take rural aspects of regional economies into account and consider co-financing aspects of the Rural Development Programme.

Allowing programmes to draw down funding from the European Investment Bank to complement its funding through the Welsh Government’s RDP would allow that money to go much further – delivering many more positive outcomes for rural communities across Wales. Difficult times demand difficult decisions. And whilst the Welsh Government will no doubt argue that those are exactly the decisions they are making – the most difficult decision of all is to admit that sometimes you are wrong and that you must steer a different course.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Government won’t be able to blame Brussels



BREXIT could have British farmers reap the benefits of international trade thanks to a leading British product, National Farmers Union vice-president Stuart Roberts suggested.

Brexit could help British farmers take on a leading role on the world stage thanks to great dairy and meat products created in the country, according to Mr Roberts. Asked whether leaving the EU could benefit the farming industry, the National Farming Union (NFU) vice-president insisted Brexit will offer the UK more freedom to trade with the rest of the world.

Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Roberts said: “There are several benefits. If we talk about trade, there are certain parts of the world where I think we can have some real positive trade deals.

“Our dairy products, for example, are ones that we can lead the world on, we can add value to.
“When you look at our sustainable meat production in this country, people are crying out for this around the world. I think there are some opportunities in trade.”

The NFU vice-president also suggested leaving the European Union will grant the UK to have full control over farming regulations in the future.

Mr Roberts also said Brexit will force British politicians to be more “accountable” for the decisions they will take in the coming years.

He continued: “There are also opportunities in terms of the regulatory environment.
“We are now, at least, in a position where the politicians in this country will make the decisions and be responsible for it.

“They can’t blame someone else, they can’t pass the buck. In every aspect of society, probably for all of us, it was convenient to blame Brussels for things.

“Going forward people are going to have to be more accountable.”

The UK will no longer abide by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at the end of the transition period scheduled to conclude on December 31, 2020.

in December 2019, former Chancellor Sajid Javid announced farmers could enter the new year with confidence that they will be able to “thrive” after Brexit after he confirmed just under £3 billion of funding for 2020.
The cash – to be spread over two years – will be used to support farmers once all Brexit phases have concluded and the CAP direct payments scheme ends next year.

Continue Reading


Young hill farmer stars in £250,000 campaign



AN ACCOMPLISHED young farmer from the Ceiriog valley is starring in a nation-wide campaign promoting PGI Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Caryl Hughes, who farms in partnership with her family near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, features in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s latest campaign.

The £250,000 campaign was announced in November 2019 by HCC Chair Kevin Roberts at the annual HCC Conference and will focus on Welsh red meat’s sustainable qualities. The campaign will include radio and tv advertising, on-demand tv advertising, print advertising and media partnerships. It will also feature core messages around Wales’ sustainable red meat production focusing on elements such as – landscape, climate and water usage.

The television advert sees Caryl at home on her farm in Ceiriog valley and displays the dramatic landscapes and natural surroundings where Caryl rears her own flock.

Caryl is a familiar face within Welsh agriculture; having previously held the role of National Sheep Association Young Ambassador and Montgomery YFC Chair.

Caryl has a degree in Agriculture from Aberystwyth University and, notably, was the first person to undertake the Llyndy Isaf Scholarship with the National Trust – where she managed a Snowdonia hill farm for a year combining sustainable farming practices with managing the outstanding natural environment.

Having also competed on S4C’s Fferm Factor, Caryl is also someone comfortable both on film and in the field.
Commenting on the campaign, Caryl said ‘Like most Welsh sheep and beef farmers, I am very proud of our industry, the food we produce and how we produce it. I’m very pleased to be involved in this campaign promoting exactly that.’

HCC’s Market Development Manager Rhys Llywelyn commented ‘We wanted the real, authentic voices of Welsh farming to star in this campaign to show the real picture of Welsh red meat production.’

‘Caryl’s knowledge, passion and experience are undeniable and she is a very credible ambassador for our industry and produce. We’re sure viewers and consumers at home will find Caryl very relatable and engaging in this advert’
HCC’s new campaign launched on Thursday, February 13, and can be seen and heard on on-demand television platforms and radio stations throughout England and Wales.

Continue Reading


FUW reminds members about SAF



IT’s that time of year again when we start thinking about Single Application Forms (SAF).

The application window opens on Monday, March 2, and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding its members that county staff are here to help and ready to take the stress of filling the form away from you.

The FUW provides this service exclusively to all paid-up members as part of their membership package, which has proved invaluable for thousands of members over the years – saving them time and a paperwork-headache.

FUW Membership and Operations Manager Caryl Roberts said: “The SAF completion process is probably the single most important form completion exercise being carried out by Welsh farmers since 2004, and the financial repercussions of errors on the forms are severe.

“Our staff are not only well trained but very well practised in dealing with the complex application process.”
Since the Welsh Government mandated that all applications should be done online, the FUW is focused on providing the best possible service to its members.

“I encourage our members and first-time form fillers to contact their local office as soon as possible to book an appointment if they need help in filling out the form,” added Caryl Roberts.

Continue Reading
Community4 days ago

Remembering the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge fifty years on

TODAY, marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge, then called the Milford Haven Bridge, a day...

News6 days ago

Hart defends a tweet police boss says is incorrect

WELSH Secretary Simon Hart has defended a tweet accused of being incorrect by a chief constable. The MP for South...

News6 days ago

Shielding people can meet others and exercise outdoors

CHANGES to advice for people shielding from coronavirus are being introduced from Monday 1 June, Minister for Health and Social...

News1 week ago

Pembroke Dock: Lorry driver fined for driving whilst disqualified

A LORRY driver has been fined after getting behind the wheel only three months after being disqualified from driving. Gary...

News1 week ago

Local MP’s concern at re-opening of Mc Donald’s Drive Thrus

A LOCAL MP has expressed his concern regarding the planned re-opening of the Mc Donald’s Drive Thru in Haverfordwest. Stephen...

News1 week ago

Amphetamine worth £22,500 found in car at Pembroke Dock

Two men who claimed to have driven from Cardiff to Pembroke Dock for a cleaning job were found to have...

News2 weeks ago

Message stays the same: Please do not visit Pembrokeshire this bank holiday weekend

With another Bank Holiday weekend on the horizon, visitors and second home owners are again being urged not to travel...

News2 weeks ago

Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host...

News2 weeks ago

How Wales created 19 new field hospitals in less than 8 weeks…

Across Wales the Welsh Government is supporting the NHS to create new field hospitals and rapidly increase bed capacity. Health...

News2 weeks ago

Pembrokeshire County Council leader’s coronavirus update, May 20th

Pembrokeshire County Council Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Wednesday, 20th May, as follows: ‘Once...

Popular This Week