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Positive Balance Between Environment and Production

by 5m Editor
15 January 2008, at 10:43am

WALES, UK - Positive change across the whole agricultural sector was the forecast of John Lloyd Jones, during the National Farmers' Union (NFU) Cymru Meirionnydd annual general meeting. Despite the troubles of 2007, he has confidence in the industry and holds firm his belief that prospects will improve over the coming years.

Mr Lloyd Jones, who is Chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales said, “Without doubt, I am more confident about agriculture now than I was a decade ago. Any farmer who has stuck with farming and come through the difficulties of the last ten years has a future in the industry.

“The wheel is starting to turn, as we have seen from the recent improvements in milk and grain prices. It will not be long until the livestock sector also starts to benefit and farmers can expect to receive better returns for their product.

“The strongest factors likely to impact on the industry are climate change and peak oil demand. While some countries are feeling the brunt of climate change through increasing droughts and water shortages, we have plenty of rain here in Wales to keep our land fertile, allowing us to maximise its potential in terms or production.

“The economies of countries such as China and India are growing steadily and there is increasing demand for oil, but as we well know it is a finite resource. Energy security is now high on the political agenda, along with food security, and farmers have an important role to play on both counts.

“Our challenge for the future is to balance food and environmental concerns effectively in our twin roles as food producers and environmental stewards. As more land is used to grow energy crops, we will also have to start thinking about a new generation of environmental schemes based on carbon management.

“Inevitably, we will put more pressure on fertile land to get the most out of it in terms of production, but this doesn’t have to have an adverse environmental effect, as we can use other land for environmental benefits. Striking the right balance between production and the environment is vital.”

Concerns were also raised at the meeting about the number of farmers who are still anxiously awaiting their single farm payment; many of whom have young families to support.

Commenting on the situation, NFU Cymru Vice President Ed Bailey said, “Financial distress is growing amongst the 20% of Welsh farmers who are anxiously awaiting their single farm payment, many of whom are unable to pay their bills and are facing real economic hardship after the problems of 2007.

“NFU Cymru has written to the Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, asking for an interim payment to help ease the mounting financial pressure on farmers across Wales. I would also encourage anyone who is facing difficulties to contact their local Assembly Member to inform them of the gravity of the situation.”

5m Editor