Carmarthenshire FUW members hold lively debate on hot topics
The Welsh Government's decision to vaccinate rather than cull badgers led to a lively debate during the annual general meeting of Farmers' Union of Wales' Carmarthenshire branch.
A panel of speakers including FUW president Emyr Jones, Llanelli's Labour AM Keith Davies, National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs and Wales YFC senior member of the year Aled Jones and Proper Welsh Milk director David Miles were asked if the Badger Protection Act was used more as a "Politician Protection Act".
"The question created a heated lively debate with Mr Davies given a rough time," said FUW's Carmarthenshire county executive officer Meinir Bartlett.
"Members unanimously believed that the Government had taken the safer, softer option by giving in to the Badger Trust rather than listening to scientific reports and results.
"Those present believed that farmers should use the same tactics as the Badger Trust and show photographs and clippings of cattle being slaughtered and the dramatic effect it has on family farms."
The panel was also asked if the creation next April of a new single body following the merger of Environment Agency Wales, Countryside Council for Wales and Forestry Commission Wales was a "recipe for cooperation and streamlining of regulations, or a recipe for disaster".
"There was unanimous concern on how successful the amalgamated body would be," said Mrs Bartlett.
"It was believed that it was a cost cutting exercise which had been rushed though. Often the aims and ideals of the Countryside Council for Wales do not match with those of the other two bodies."
Panel members were asked if the lack of enthusiasm by the UK Government for larger farmer cooperatives accounted for the apparent lack of interest of farmers towards coops and whether they endorsed the proposed merger of Arla Foods and Milk Link.
"The panel believed the merger of Arla Foods and Milk Link was excellent news and could be complimentary to the dairy sector. It was believed that a large cooperative should have the strength and knowledge to deal with supermarkets.
"Members also expressed concern that the Government could decide that the merger would create too large a cooperative and believed it vital that any profit made should be returned to producers."
Much discussion took place in response to the question: How much authority would you give to the proposed supermarket ombudsman?
Mrs Bartlett added: "Other sectors are overseen by Ofcom/Oftel who ensure customers are treated fairly and they check profit margins.
It was suggested that the same power should be available to a supermarket ombudsman, who should be robust and able to govern marketing techniques etc.
"Concern was expressed that it could have little effect on the dairy industry, as it is the ‘middleman’ who makes the profit."
A full-blown debate took place in response to the question: Is sufficient assistance being given to encourage young people to enter and remain in the farming industry?
"It was suggested that the current Young New Entrant Scheme provided insufficient encouragement and assistance," said Mrs Bartlett. "The balance payment or funding expected from an individual is out of reach for many.
"Also, selling off council farms was certainly not the way forward. It was believed that the availability of land and the cost of land is a major obstacle and, therefore, share farming should be encouraged with more assistance and advice given on succession in farming.
"It was further suggested by some members that decoupling of payment had not been beneficial to farmers."
Farming News Daily Supporting British Pig Farmers
Source: newsroom - farmingnewsdaily.co.uk