WALES, UK - The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) has released its general election manifesto, highlighting the importance of agriculture to the economy.
In his introduction to the manifesto FUW president Emyr Jones said: “The impact of the recession on our economy as a whole has been severe, but there can be no doubt that in rural Britain and many of our urban areas the impact has been buffered by the core role agriculture has played in generating income for communities the length and breadth of the UK.”
Mr Jones described agriculture as the powerhouse of the rural economy, generating billions of pounds which benefit a host of industries, including many not directly associated with agriculture.
“Go through the accounts of any farm and you will see the incredible contribution made to other businesses – whether to industries directly associated with agriculture such as feed merchants, or those without such direct links such as builders, plumbers and electricians.
“Yet the importance of agriculture is all-to-often ignored, and as the strengthening Sterling-Euro exchange rate has undermined agriculture and other industries we have seen the benefits of a recovering economy being undermined not only in rural towns and villages, but also in those areas where manufacturing for export plays a key part in the local economy – impacts which would be far worse were it not for lower fuel prices,” added Mr Jones.
Mr Jones further said that for the dairy sector in particular, such pressures had been exacerbated by the knock-on effect of the Russian embargo on EU food, and that this came as a timely reminder in an uncertain world that controlling the movement and availability of food is a weapon used by leaders since time immemorial, to bargain, threaten and compel opponents.
“As such, the role farming plays in maintaining our natural environment and rural communities, coupled with the importance of maintaining and strengthening those political frameworks which protect our food security, mean agriculture, and in particular the family farm, should be high up the agenda for any future Government.”
Mr Jones said membership of the European Union and a fair Common Agricultural Policy were key to exports and the economic viability of rural communities.
“We all share huge frustrations with the EU, but the FUW remains convinced that leaving the common market or opting out of the CAP following a renegotiation of powers would be devastating for agriculture and our rural communities.
“If we were to lose our export markets and CAP funding it is difficult to imagine how our agricultural sectors and rural communities would avoid being plunged into abject poverty,” he added.
Mr Jones said that while advances in the devolution process have reduced the number of Welsh agricultural issues over which Members of Parliament have a direct influence, there remain numerous overarching UK policies that have a direct impact on Welsh communities, and the FUW’s concerns and aspirations regarding the most significant of these are highlighted in the manifesto.
“For the period of the next Parliament and beyond the FUW is committed to lobbying all those in Westminster to ensure that agriculture and family farms receive the attention and respect that they warrant,” said Mr Jones.
You can view the full election manifesto by clicking here.
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