by Glyn Roberts, FUW president
THE FUW is urging all those who have an interest in farming matters and who believe that our agricultural industry is the backbone of the rural economy to make their voices heard at all levels, by messaging their elected representatives through an online lobbying tool on the union’s website. Whilst our officials are out continuously lobbying key decision makers and politicians at Westminster and Cardiff level, our members can also lobby their elected politicians. Currently based on our #FarmingMatters campaign, members and all those who recognise the importance of a thriving rural economy can find their elected representatives by entering a postcode and then choosing who they want to e‐mail. There is a pre‐written campaign letter available for use, but it can be amended if you so wish. The more we remind politicians about the importance of farming and its role in the rural economy, the more chance there is that our rural economy will survive and prosper. The prepared campaign letter states that the individual wishes to highlight the importance of ensuring agriculture and our rural economy are given sufficient prominence during forthcoming discussions, negotiations and decisions following the referendum on EU membership held on June 23. It further outlines that farm businesses, and family farms in particular, are an essential part of the economic, social, and cultural fabric of Wales; around two out of every five rural businesses are classed as being involved in the farming industry (Welsh Assembly Government, 2001), while agriculture is estimated to support over 10 per cent of Wales’ full time employees (Central Science Laboratories, 2003). The letter further draws attention to the fact that around 60,000 people are employed on farm holdings in Wales, in addition to the thousands employed in businesses which are reliant on agriculture such as contractors, feed and machinery merchants, mechanics etc. Wider contributions to our economy are also well documented, for example, in terms of tourism, while agriculture has been acknowledged as the single most significant contributor to an estimated £1.9 billion worth of wildlife based activity in Wales per annum (Mabis, 2007). In light of this, those who are submitting the letter to their elected politicians through the FUW website, urge them to recognise the degree to which farming matters to their constituency, Wales, and the UK, including in terms of food security at a time of global instability, and is asking them to do all they can to prevent the devastating impact further cuts in farm incomes would have not just for agriculture, but for our entire rural economy.