Welsh dairy farmers have told Conservative politicians the EU’s decision to scrap milk quotas by 2015 will have a destabilising effect on their sector of the industry.
Farmers’ Union of Wales leaders delivered the stark message when they met Assembly shadow rural affairs minister, North Wales AM Brynle Williams, and Welsh Conservative candidate for the European Elections Kay Swinburne on the dairy farm of union members Harry Williams and his son Robin at Cilcain, near Mold.
A number of important issues were raised affecting the current problems in the dairy industry and Dr Swinburne pledged that if elected on June 4 she would keep in regular contact with the FUW and its members to work for the benefit of Welsh agriculture.
Brynle Williams said Harry and Robin Williams had invested heavily in their farm over the past few years but the problems facing the dairy sector - decreasing farm gate prices and increasing production costs - were making it difficult for them to make a sensible return on their investment.
FUW milk and dairy committee chairman Eifion Huws reminded the gathering that the union’s president Gareth Vaughan had already called for a national debate on the impact abolishing milk quotas will have on the Welsh dairy sector.
Last November the 27 EU agriculture ministers agreed to lift quotas by one per cent per year before scrapping them altogether in 2014-2015.
"Mr Vaughan has also written to Assembly rural affairs minister Elin Jones informing her the issue has attracted growing attention on the Continent during recent months, and prompted significant debate at a meeting of the EU Council of Ministers," said Mr Huws.
"The FUW is well aware of growing concern amongst many farmers in Wales, and in other parts of the EU, that the full implications of the abandonment of the quota regime have not been properly recognised by the European Commission.
"Many believe that such a change would have a destabilising effect on an industry that is already suffering as a result of market volatility, and would have a particularly adverse impact for family farms.
"With the recent volatility of milk prices, there is a real need for the Welsh Assembly Government to engage in further discussions on the impact that abolishing the quota regime will have for the Welsh dairy sector," added Mr Huws, who runs a dairy farm on Anglesey.