Conference report: Government must take more responsible attitude toward farming

WALES - The UK Government has a moral responsibility to fund the recovery of the agricultural industry, said the Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, during her keynote speech at NFU Cymru’s autumn conference, Builth Wells.
calendar icon 5 November 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Ms Jones, who said the broken pipe at Pirbright was probably to blame for the recent Foot and Mouth disease outbreak, also wished NFU Cymru luck with their legal battle against the Government to make the polluter pay.

The Minister said:
“We have and will continue to put pressure on the UK Government Treasury and Defra. But I will also continue discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government as this incident has highlighted our need to reform the Barnett funding formula as there is no contingency fund for animal health in the Assembly.”

Edmund Bailey, Vice President of NFU Cymru, said that agriculture and politics were, unfortunately, linked and our main problem this year in the agricultural industry has been brought about by the Foot and Mouth outbreak from a Government licensed establishment.

"But, did the Government adopt an ‘I’m responsible’ attitude? No, it does its best to wheedle out of its responsibilities like thieves who steal away in the night, taking our ability to trade, with them. A Government that’s high on moral principles, that stresses education at every opportunity, yet, they are teaching our youth how to shirk their responsibilities.”

Mr Bailey, added that the Scottish Executive has managed to fund a £27m recovery package and the Welsh Assembly had given £6.75m to aid farmers.

"We are grateful for this and we accept what Elin Jones has said that they haven’t got the money to match the Scottish generosity, but, they must, as must Scotland, keep pressurising the Treasury for this, and more compensation. As farmers, we only need half a chance – we can feed the nation, provide clean water and reduce the carbon footprint,” he added.

Ken Bellis, County Chairman for Clwyd, told the Conference that thirteen billion pounds had been set aside by the UK Government for consequential losses from businesses and they recently helped out to the tune of millions Northern Rock, but Welsh farmers have only been given £6million and that was wrong.

Other speakers at the annual conference were the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, who explained the logistics behind having good bio-security on farm in relation to the recent disease outbreaks and told those present that vets are dependant on farmers keeping a regular check on their animals.

Vice President of the Swedish Farming Union, Elizabeth Gauffin, spoke about how her union helped members and consumers in Sweden to make the right choice when buying local and Chris Pollock, former Director of IGER, explained his vision of the future for farming in the UK and the world.

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