A farming family from the the Cwm Nantcol valley in Meirionnydd has spoken out about their concerns for the future of agriculture, when they met with Meirion Dwyfor MP Liz Saville Roberts.
Welcoming the local MP to their hill farm, Graig Isa, Cwm Nantcol, near Llanbedr, Alun and Moria Jones stressed that family farms like theirs could be a thing of the past if frameworks are not put in place to protect the industry.
The Jones family keep a flock of 700 Welsh Mountain Ewes on their farm which extends to approximately 700 hectares, with the vast majority of the land being rugged, mountain land.
Walking around the farm, Alun Jones said: “We are concerned about the future direction of the agricultural industry. Without support and loss of markets for our lambs, family farms such as ours will not be able to keep going. The UK Government must make sure that our home market is working properly and fairly and it is absolutely essential that unfair competition between producers in different parts of the UK is prevented.”
Over the years the farm has benefited from agri-environment schemes. It joined Tir Cymen when Meironnydd was chosen to pilot the scheme in the early 1990’s, and thereafter was part of the Tir Gofal scheme. It is now in the Glastir scheme and also Glastir Organic.
The family also has a Hydro scheme, which was established approximately 2 years ago, in a bid to diversify and guarantee a separate source of income.
“Diversification is a necessity on many farms and generating alternative energy is something we can do - it helps in producing clean energy and provides a bit of extra income for the farm. Given that things are as uncertain as they are - we all have to think outside the box and as farmers we are more than happy to do our bit for the environment. But it is important that we have adequate infrastructure to facilitate similar diversification enterprises in future and that the work we do is properly recognised,” said Alun.
FUW Meirionnydd county chairman Sion Ifans added: “Our industry is facing unprecedented time, there are plenty of opportunities but there are also some challenges ahead. “That’s why we must ensure the UK Government sets global tariff rates for key agricultural commodities such as beef and dairy products at the same level as those applied by the EU. It is so important that they work with the other UK administrations to place the protection of farming families and rural communities at the centre of a common framework which minimises unfair competition and market distortion, while respecting devolution.”