FUW election hustings

PROCUREMENT was top of the agenda when Glamorgan farmers questioned election candidates. Attending the meeting were Huw Irranca-Davies (Labour), Glenda Jones (UKIP candidate for Ogmore by-election), Andrew R T Davies (Conservatives), Denis Campbell (Liberal Democrats) and Tim Thomas (Plaid Cymru). The event at St Mary’s Hotel, Bridgend, was chaired by FUW Glamorgan county chairman Richard Walker. There was a strong call for the next Welsh Government to ensure more Welsh produce is sourced for hospitals and schools. FUW Glamorgan county executive officer Rachel Saunders said: “Our food produce is grown and reared to the highest welfare standards across Europe. It should be a priority that home grown food is served at our dinner tables before imported food products fill our supermarket shelves. “Welsh and UK produce should be available in our schools, hospitals, local authorities, leisure centres and nursing homes throughout the year. It should be the first choice for supermarkets, restaurants and everyone else with a role to play in the food chain. What we need, now more than ever, is a full commitment to local procurement.” The issues of bovine TB and food security were hotly debated when Pembrokeshire farmers met their Welsh Assembly election candidates. The meeting welcomed Paul Davies (Conservative), Val Bradley (Green Party), Dan Lodge (Labour), Bob Kilmister (Liberal Democrat) and John Osmond (Plaid Cymru). FUW deputy president Brian Thomas, who chaired the meeting, said: “We strongly call on the next Welsh Assembly Government to properly balance the economic needs of farm businesses against the need to minimise disease transmission, and that the practicalities of farming in the real world are taken into full account when considering appeals against penalties and sanctions. “The FUW further urges them to implement a badger culling policy at the earliest opportunity, in line with official ministerial advice previously received by the current Welsh Government, in order to replicate the positive outcomes seen in countries throughout the world.” Carmarthenshire farmers discussed the contentious issue of bovine TB with their prospective Welsh Assembly election candidates. Welcomed to the meeting were William Powell (Welsh Liberal Democrats), Harri Roberts (Plaid Cymru), Edmund Marriage (UKIP) and Christopher Salmon (Dyfed Powys police and crime commissioner representing the Conservatives). FUW Carmarthen county chairman Brian Richards, who chaired the meeting, said: “The main focus for each party was developing and looking after businesses within Wales to ensure that they prospered within and outside Wales. Of course, we all want to see a prosperous Welsh rural economy. Therefore, we remind the new Welsh Government that, in direct contradiction to the views of the FUW and the policies implemented by every other region of the EU, the Welsh Government chose in 2013 to annually reduce farm payments by 15 per cent to fund what was described as an ambitious Rural Development Programme – a decision which continues to have a severe impact on farm incomes. “In light of this we once again call on the next administration to ensure that all farmers have access to practical agri-environment schemes which take account of historical farming practices and do not undermine the productivity of farms.” The issues most concerning farmers in Ceredigion were the eradication of bovine TB. The event, at Lampeter Rugby Club, welcomed Elizabeth Evans (Liberal Democrats), Elin Jones (Plaid Cymru), Gethin James (UKIP), Aled Davies (Conservatives) and Brian Williams (Green Party). There was general consensus among the candidates that the Groceries Code Adjudicator needed more power to tackle unfair practices in the supply chain and that the position of food producers had to be strengthened in the market place. FUW Ceredigion county chairman Aled Rees said: “It is clear that most of the candidates here in Ceredigion and across Wales agree that something has to be done to tackle the crisis of bovine TB. “Farmers always have and always will look after their livestock and put the animals’ welfare at the forefront of their business. Yet they are forced to watch their cattle suffer or being taken away because of this nasty disease time and time again. The current Welsh Government has done nothing to solve the problem, apart from squander money on the BCG vaccine programme, which they then had to abandon. “It baffles me that, even though we cull approximately 150 cattle a week because of bTB, that the topic is barely raised in some manifestos and not at all in others.”

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