by Alan Davies, FUW managing director
EVERYONE knows how wonderful the royal Welsh Show is but this year it was even more fantastic for me than ever before. Spending five days working at the show was truly a “full-on experience” not only giving me time to appreciate far more the breadth of the show and how wide the reach of agriculture is in our economy, but also of course it was a great opportunity to get deeply embedded in the important work we do politically as a union. on the Sunday before the show the president held a press conference and announced key priorities and called on the Welsh Government to take action based on looking for the risks and opportunities as a result of Brexit. The big risk we currently see is that the state of bovine TB in Wales could have serious implications on any trade negotiations that the United Kingdom government will be undertaking on leaving the european Union. And this isn’t just a risk for Wales, it is a risk to all UK trade and the message was repeated at all political meetings during the course of the Show. Additionally there are opportunities for governments both in Cardiff and London to initiate legislation, which will take time to come to law, to mandate the procurement of local produce in the public sector whenever possible. These key messages were heard and received well by all the politicians we met. one continuing message was the repeated use of the phrase “Farming matters,” which of course has two meanings: firstly it is what we as a union do, in that we deal with farming matters and of course secondly it is a message that promotes the belief that farming matters to so many people in so many ways. Farming is the bedrock of rural economies and we have called on governments to undertake economic analysis of the impact on local economies should farming experience greater difficulty post Brexit. our message promotes the belief that support to farming is in fact support to all those businesses that support the business of farming. money supporting farmers support all their supply chains and local economy too. We have now created an online means for members to communicate with elected representatives by e-mail to remind them of how important farming is to rural economies and also asking them to remember that farming matters. The link to this is http://fuw.org.uk/find. Whilst a lot of talk at the show was about Brexit one clear message that came from most meetings was that there are no plans. It’s true – there was no plan B! That means that it is now time to capture and feed in thoughts and ideas. As a result in the coming months we will be busy capturing and developing ideas both from member engagement through county branches but we should also be seeking input from as wide a range of contributors as possible. If you’ve got something to offer as a proposal for a way forward please let me know, all contributions at this stage will be incredibly helpful as we do our best to influence governments to create better policies for the long-term management of agriculture whilst ensuring that they also remember that #Farmingmatters.