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‘Riots, floods and drought could affect us all’

Created on 18/01/2011 @ 11:58
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The devastating effects of this week’s riots in Tunisia, the floods currently ravaging the planet and last summer’s fire and drought in Russian are a stark warning that food security remains a major concern, Farmers’ Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan said today (Tuesday).
“Soon after last summer's catastrophic fire and drought-ravaged Russian grain harvest Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned its effect would be much worse than previously forecast,” Mr Vaughan told the union’s annual Welsh farmhouse breakfast at the National Assembly Senedd building.
“Sri Lanka is also facing a deepening food crisis after last week's floods decimated crops at a time of high prices and left a quarter of the country under water.”
“Mr Putin revealed the Russian harvest was expected to plummet to 60 million tonnes from the previous forecast of 75 million tonnes which resulted in an increase of wheat prices by 25 per cent.
 “And now official estimates say Sri Lanka is in danger of losing as much as 20 per cent of its harvest from the torrential rains.
 “So as we tuck into our Welsh breakfast today, let’s remember that the fortunes of Welsh farming over the coming year will depend on a range of influences which are as impossible to predict as the weather.
“At the same time we must all strive to avoid a similar scenario to what is happening in Tunisia where violence has spiralled out of control and the death toll reached 23 after people took to the streets to protest about the increasing difficulty of trying to put food on the table and government corruption.
“The protesters there were very unhappy about rising food and fuel prices and the question is now being asked - will the southern Mediterranean region see more food riots?
“The Tunisian violence followed hot on the heels of unrest throughout the region due to rising food prices and youth unemployment.
“In Algeria, protests also broke out earlier this month over price hikes in sugar, milk and flour and resulted in the death of five people.
“So I want to stress that here in Wales we must never forget that farming is an industry for which decisions made now can take years to take effect.
“2011 is a year in which critical decisions regarding the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, and therefore all of our fortunes, will be made at the highest level.
“The EU Commission has already made it clear that food security remains a priority, but the coming months will require lobbying at all levels to fight for a policy which properly reflects the essential role that family farms play in maintaining food production and the fabric of our rural communities.”
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