FUW’s 2015 general election manifesto has highlighted the all-tooften overlooked central role agriculture plays in both rural and urban economies.
In his introduction to the manifesto, launched on March 30, FUW president Emyr Jones says: “The impact of the recession on our economy as a whole has been severe, but there can be no doubt that in rural Britain and many of our urban areas the impact has been buffered by the core role agriculture has played in generating income for communities the length and breadth of the UK.”
Mr Jones described agriculture as the powerhouse of the rural economy, generating billions of pounds which benefit a host of industries not directly involved in agriculture. “Go through the accounts of any farm and you will see the incredible contribution made to other businesses – whether to industries directly associated with agriculture such as feed merchants, or those without such direct links such as builders, plumbers and electricians.
“The importance of agriculture to such businesses is colossal and must be given greater recognition.” Mr Jones warned that this key contribution would be severely compromised by the strengthening pound. “The exchange rate has helped a range of industries, including agriculture, contribute to growth over recent years, but the strengthening of the pound against the Euro is having a severe impact which would be far worse were it not for the low oil prices,” said Mr Jones.
“We would, therefore, like to see the future government strengthening the emphasis on exports.” Mr Jones said membership of the European Union and a fair Common Agricultural Policy were key to exports and the economic viability of rural communities. “We all share huge frustrations with the EU, but the FUW remains convinced that leaving the common market or opting out of the CAP following a renegotiation of powers would be devastating for agriculture and our rural communities.
“If we were to lose our export markets and CAP funding it is difficult to imagine how our agricultural sectors and rural communities would avoid being plunged into abject poverty,” he added.