Exciting new overseas opportunities to market Welsh beef and lamb are on the horizon, Dai Davies, Chair of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) has said.
Speaking at NFU Cymru Meirionnydd annual meeting in Dolgellau, Mr Davies told farmers that competition and uncertainty over the future of the euro currency were among the most important reasons to look to sell their produce abroad.
"Market competition is the basis for the prices we receive for our beef and lamb, which has become popular and is in demand across the world. The value of the euro is shaky at this time and, although we should not lose sight of the fact that Europe remains essential, we should take advantage of the new markets that are opening. Part of the current trade negotiations between Europe and the USA involves lifting US restrictions on market access for our products and the US Department of Agriculture is revising the situation.
"We already sell to countries such as Dubai, which is the door to the Middle East, to Canada which helps us ensure the US market hears of our produce, and to Hong Kong, which is the gateway to direct export to China. Other markets we have pioneered include Sweden, Barbados and Singapore," Mr Davies said.
Mr Davies added that HCC had obtained EU funding, enabling the organisation to spend €4 million to promote and raise awareness of Protected Geographical Indication, a status already enjoyed by Welsh Lamb in France, Italy, Germany and the UK.
NFU Cymru President Ed Bailey explained the Union’s thoughts on the Glastir and what actions Welsh Government should consider taking in the light of the poor response by farmers to the agri-environment scheme. He took issue with the thinly-veiled threats that consideration could be given to reallocating the Glastir budget and to introduce additional legislation onto Welsh farmers for not taking up scheme.
"Farmers have historically embraced agri-environment schemes in Wales; the success of Tir Gofal is testament to that. The expressions of interest in Glastir have shown that farmers want to be part of future agri-environment schemes. The challenge for our Government is to ensure this enthusiasm is turned into contracts through a Glastir scheme fit for purpose," Mr Bailey said.
Members at the Meirionnydd annual meeting confirmed officeholders for 2012 and 2013 as Messrs Trefor Hughes, Chairman, Lewis Williams, Deputy Chairman, Geraint Rowlands, Treasurer, Hedd Pugh, Deputy Treasurer and retiring county chairman Eifion Davies as President.
Incoming Chairman Trefor Hughes thanked members for their confidence in him and also thanked HSBC bank for sponsoring the annual meeting held at the Ship Hotel in Dolgellau.