by Glyn Roberts, FUW President
The 100th Royal Welsh Show week has been and gone. It was busy, warm and we were proud to be a part of the biggest agricultural show in Europe, which showcases our industry so well and brings ‘Farming Matters’ to everyone's attention - in fact the FUW has had an official presence at the show for more than sixty years!
For us at the FUW it is always good to catch up with members in the pavilion and we enjoyed the wide and varied #FarmingMatters chats over a cup of tea. But it wasn’t just about drinking tea - we have also been busy in our many meetings highlighting why our industry is so important and why funding for agriculture needs to be sorted out as a matter of urgency.
During the four days of the show we met with many Ministers from both Governments and politicians of all parties as well as industry bodies, always lobbying hard on behalf of our members. And there was some very good news - our messages and relentless highlighting of why farming matters and why fair farm funding is crucial in order to secure thriving, sustainable family farm in Wales has hit a significant mile stone.
The commitment to ringfence funding for farming in Wales was reinforced by First Minister Mark Drakeford, and Welsh Farming Minister Lelsley Griffiths when we met her during the show. We have, as it stands, convinced them of the principle and whilst there are many things that still need to fall into place- it is progress.
Our messages to decision makers have been clear and strong. A no-deal Brexit will spell disaster for the farming industry in Wales. We stressed that point again when we met with former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove and Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns. No responsible UK Government would allow the UK to leave the EU without a deal.
Now we have a new Prime Minister who is turbo charging preparations for a no-deal Brexit and a new DEFRA Minister as well. Our work has certainly been cut out for us. And we are ready to work with them to ensure that the voice of Welsh farming families will be heard loud and clear.
I have already written to both Boris Johnson and Theresa Villiers, congratulating them on their appointments but warning them of the dangers we as an industry face if they pursue their hardline Brexit plans.
In that respect I have issued an open invitation to Theresa Villiers to visit farms in Wales very soon in order to better understand the unique challenges that Welsh family farms face in the event of a no-deal Brexit and hope to meet with them over the Summer.
With just under 100 days to go until we are destined to leave the EU - let’s hope that those in power don’t ignore the warning we have made repeatedly over the last 3 years. Indeed, for the family farms of Wales, the communities we support, the future is so impossible to predict, that there is massive pressure on all of us.
I can reassure our members that this Union really is working hard for them as we are in the middle of a political crisis. A crisis which is the result of three years of uncertainty, political intrigue and self seeking opportunism - at the expense of the people of the UK.
But we have also been tackling other important issues such as the effect bovine TB breakdowns have on mental health, examined the difference between re-wilding and conservation and had productive discussions on future farming policies for Wales.
Well, as the only farming organisation in Wales that is determined to protect the family farm we are constantly striving to ensure our message goes to the highest levels across Government. We will continue to put across in the strongest possible terms - the needs of the farmers of Wales, whatever it takes.
On a final note, I would like to thank the staff and our members for their continued hard work and support. It has been a pleasure to work alongside you during the busy show week and I certainly look forward to catching up with many of you during the up-coming county shows.