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Devastation fears for local farming

Created on 15/01/2011 @ 17:12
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The Coalition Government’s plans for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would devastate the majority of farm businesses in the area and completely undermine food security, Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan warned today.
Mr Vaughan was responding to a speech by Defra secretary of state Caroline Spelman made at the recent Oxford Farming Conference in which she proposed radical changes to the Common Agricultural Policy.
In a letter, he told her: "In the absence of significant moves to ensure fair returns from the market place, reform of the CAP in the way you have proposed would devastate the majority of farm businesses in Wales and throughout the UK, while completely undermining our food security.
"Such concerns are highlighted in a range of academic reports, most notably those published by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), many of which were commissioned by what is now your department.
"While I appreciate that you have sought to distinguish your policy from that of the previous administration, there appears to me to be relatively little difference between the broad thrusts of either policy, and the conclusions reached by FAPRI would therefore appear to remain valid."
Mr Vaughan also highlighted the possible impacts of Defra’s proposals based upon academic research, including a decline in UK food production and rural employment, increased price volatility and dramatic consequences for the Welsh beef and sheep sectors.
The letter outlined nine broad points which, the FUW believes, should underpin the future policy.
They included maintaining support until mechanisms are in place which ensure fair returns for producers, supporting the CAP and its core objectives to ensure the availability of agricultural produce and a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, and recognition of the CAP as a mechanism by which the major environmental and food production challenges of our age can be addressed.
Mr Vaughan has also issued a stark warning regarding the impact of the proposals on the uplands and farming families. “I have grave concerns that, if current UK Government proposals were adopted, this would lead to a situation whereby the majority of the uplands were abandoned, while on more productive land those who are currently farmers would become low-paid employees on vast farms owned by the equivalent of multi-national companies.
“There should be a system in place which ensures farmers receive fair incomes from the marketplace but until that becomes a reality it would be negligent for us to adopt a policy which, numerous reports have warned, would devastate food production and our rural communities at a time when the experts are warning us of impending energy, water and food shortages,” he added.

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