Saturday, 14 May 2011


With the election over few politicians will be out chasing the farming vote or chasing farmers for that matter. Will Carwyn's Labour lot even try to appear to be the farmers friend or stand up for Wales? Our farmers, despite mutterings to the contrary, are not merely seeking the annual brown envelope from Brussels but for real opportunities to make a living (and a contribution) within the agricultural sector - they need a fair deal.

We in Wales still need take more practical steps to give Welsh farmers a fighting chance of making a real living; the aim of securing 80% of publicly procured food locally by 2015 should still a realistic and practical aim. This is something that could provide the first practical step towards helping Welsh farmers and other producers make the most of the new opportunities that will arise from higher public purchasing of local products.

Our farming communities, still feel pretty isolated and marginalised, the contempt with which the farmers had been treated in the past by Labour and Conservative Governments in Westminster and even in Cardiff Bay prior 2007 used to mirror the neglect of the important agricultural sector, which despite everything still makes a significant contribution to our rural economy.

Any economic failure across the farming sector could (and did) have a massive knock on effect for dependent small businesses and suppliers across the whole rural economy, in the small towns and across the Welsh countryside itself; which is as the living landscape is a result of generations of ongoing hard work by our farming community.

In the past both Labour and Conservative Governments in Westminster (and Cardiff Bay) treated the agricultural sector with indifference. It is vitally important that this attitude at all levels of Government become a thing of the past; much more effort has to be made to market first class Welsh produce within the UK, in Europe and beyond.

We should not forget, that in the 1980's it was a Tory Secretary of State who literally sat on his hands and quietly did nothing when the Welsh Dairy farmers got hammered into the ground by cuts in the milk quota. Never again must any Welsh Minister fail to stand up and be counted and to fail to argue their corner on behalf of Welsh farmers.

That changed with the arrival of Plaid's Elin Jones (who became the One Wales Government Minister for Rural Affairs) - she hit the ground running and was not afraid to meet with and stand up for our farmers and fight for their their interests - this made an immensely refreshing change from what has gone on before. The question is what or who will happen next?

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