The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed the signing of an agreement between the UK and Chinese governments to start formal negotiations to import British lamb and beef to China and highlighted the part it played in campaigning to put Welsh Lamb on the menu in China.
"It all began four years when we invited Zhou Xiaoming, the UK Chinese Embassy's minister counsellor at its economic and commercial office, to be a top-table guest at the union's annual House of Lords lunch to celebrate Farmhouse Breakfast Week," said FUW president Emyr Jones.
"He deals with all trade and investment issues between China and the UK including agriculture. The Lords function was hosted by the former Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnor, the late Lord Livsey of Talgarth, whose successor to represent the constituency, Roger Williams, led a delegation to the Chinese Embassy in London in 2008 to promote Welsh Lamb.
"Mr Williams, who was also a top table guest at the Lords lunch, began his bid to boost exports to China when he helped farmers from his constituency provide 40kg of Welsh Lamb for a Chinese New Year reception at the Chinese Embassy in January 2008.
"The idea was first discussed when Mr Williams' neighbour Glyn Jones, a farmer and director of Farmers Fresh which manages an abattoir and is directly involved in the export market, came up with the idea to promote Welsh Lamb.
"Another top-table guest was the then Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) chairman Rees Roberts and during the lunch Mr Xiaoming accepted an invitation to attend the Royal Welsh Show where he met Mr Roberts and Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones.
"Since then HCC has been involved in numerous talks with Chinese officials in Beijing and the UK about exporting Welsh Lamb to the country. Chinese officials have also visited Welsh farms and abattoirs on numerous occasions over the last four years.
"We are pleased that we have played a part in bringing the two governments together and signing this new agreement between both countries. We very much hope it will result in Welsh Lamb imports to China in the near future," Mr Jones added.