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Farm Visit Highlights FMD Impact to Welsh Office Minister

by 5m Editor
3 December 2007, at 11:52am

WALES - The devastating impact of the recent foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak for Welsh farming families was brought home to Wales Office Minister Huw Irranca-Davies during a farm visit in Ceredigion last week.

Mr Irranca-Davies, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales, heard first hand evidence of the impact of FMD during his visit to Felinhen, a family farm at Capel Madog near Aberystwyth, run by Eirwyn and Nest Jones and their sons Rheinallt and Llyr.

"Following concerns expressed by the FUW over the severe impact that FMD continues to have on family businesses, Mr Irranca-Davies had requested to visit a member's farm and hear first-hand evidence of the impact," said Farmers Union of Wales Ceredigion County Chairman Brynmor Morgan.

"The economic hardships for hundreds of Welsh families continues and will do so for many months - but for some the impact will be everlasting," Mr Morgan added. Felinhen comprises some 200 acres and is stocked by 48 dairy cows and followers, 350 ewes and 100 ewe lambs.

Milk is sold to Hufenfa De Arfon and lambs on a deadweight basis to Dunbia. Mrs Jones, who also works as a nurse to help support the family business, said: "As a small family business, the extreme slump in lamb prices brought about by the disease outbreak has had a major impact on our income.

"Even before the outbreak it was difficult to break even due to rising production costs and low farm-gate prices - the export ban that came about as a result of the FMD outbreak saw this situation exacerbated with farm-gate prices falling by 30 per cent or more.

"Yet despite this, the average retail price for lamb over the same time period remained virtually unchanged."

FUW President Gareth Vaughan said: "I am extremely glad that Mr Irranca-Davies has taken the time to visit Wales and see the impact of FMD for himself. It is now essential that he takes the message regarding the dire need for assistance back to Westminster."

That message has already been made loud and clear to the National Assembly's Finance Committee, who last week took evidence from the FUW on the impact of the disease outbreak on Wales' rural economy.

"I believe that Committee was shocked to hear the extent of the impact, and the long lasting effect it will have on our precious rural communities in the absence of financial assistance," said Mr Vaughan. "We hope that that message will now also be carried back to Westminster by Mr Irranca-Davies."

Today the Farmers Union of Wales is presenting evidence to the Welsh Select Committee inquiry into globalisation and its impact on Wales. The evidence is being presented by FUW president Gareth Vaughan, his deputy Emyr Jones and the union's director of agricultural policy Nick Fenwick.

5m Editor