The Farmers’ Union of Wales has called on natural resources and food minister Alun Davies to honour his commitment to make Welsh farms more efficient - by reducing regulatory burdens which add to costs and reduce profitability.
In a letter to the minister, FUW president Emyr Jones listed 21 changes to Welsh Government policies which should be implemented to improve farm efficiency and profitability. He also called for the changes to be included in a Farmers’ Charter of the kind issued in the Republic of Ireland.
The call comes after Mr Davies, in a Farmers Guardian article on March 14, accused the Welsh farming unions of lacking leadership, arguing for the “status quo” and “taking their cue from the loudmouth at the back of the room”.
He also claimed they were the biggest barrier to his vision of revolutionising Welsh agriculture through CAP reform and creating a more efficient industry which had shed its “dependency” on subsidy.
In a response published alongside Mr Davies' comments, FUW director of agricultural policy Nick Fenwick stated: “The FUW’s views are established by a democratic process, and when the minister says we have no leadership what he means is he would like our views to be dictated by a minority which shares his views.
“That is not going to happen: we will remain a democratic organisation and will continue to lobby, complement, criticise, or correct in line with our members’ views. We will not give in to bullying, and believe the industry would be better served if the minister respected a majority which holds different views to him.”
President Emyr Jones’ letter states: “I do not believe your comments published in Farmers Guardian regarding the farming unions merit any response from the FUW over and above what we have already said.
“However, control over many of the areas where savings could be made and profitability enhanced lies not with farm businesses, but with Government, and, given your public commitment to making Welsh farms more profitable. I believe there is now an opportunity for you to demonstrate that commitment by reducing those regulatory burdens.
“Moreover, far from arguing for the ‘status quo’, as you claim, the FUW has been vociferous over many years in calling for changes which are within the Welsh Government’s gift which would improve the efficiency of Welsh farm businesses.”