01-11-2013 17:21 PM | News
Emyr Jones (far right) on the family farm near Bala with his sons Dylan (left) and Aled.Two leading Farmers' Union of Wales members stressed the importance of support from government and retailers to ensure the survival of family farms during a meeting in London.
Ionwen Lewis.The union's president, Bala farmer Emyr Jones, told a Family Farmers’ Association open meeting that family farmers were passionate about the food they produce but passion alone cannot sustain their businesses.
He said the Single Farm Payment (SFP) was a "lifeline" for many farmers and the prospect of the UK leaving the EU made him "very nervous". He added: “We are heavily dependent on our SFP and would not be able to survive without it.
“A referendum on Europe makes me very nervous. We feel we have to be a part of the EU to carry on farming.”
Jones, who farms beef and sheep with his two sons, said the country’s farmers needed more support from Westminster and from the National Assembly in Cardiff.
Former FUW Ceredigion county chairman Ionwen Lewis said family farms were often a forgotten species.
“What must not be forgotten, though, is farming is a thriving bright spot in the British economy and it is important the law makers realise agriculture is not just about skylark numbers.
“Family farms do not just produce food, they have maintained the landscape and nurtured unique communities and the rural way of life for thousands of years.”
Mrs Lewis, a former Women’s Food and Farming Union (WFU) president whose son is eventually expected to take over the farm, agreed the industry needed support but added it had a "bright" future.
She said: “British agriculture has faced challenging and often turbulent times over the last decade, with outbreaks of devastating animal diseases, low farmgate prices and increasing import costs, as well as never ending forms to fill in.
“Yet, probably because we are the most resilient and proudest of people in any industry, most of us are still around and as optimistic as ever.”
She said the WFU conference in London next year would be looking at how the problem could be tackled.
“Why do we need to produce more when we are wasting so much? We are wasting 50 per cent of the food we produce in the world.
“The best way to care for the countryside is to farm it and make full use of its produce.
“We enjoy what we do and it is always a challenge to produce more food to meet the growing demand every year - but the fact that in the UK, seven million tonnes of food is thrown away every year is horrifying.”
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