NFU Cymru Brecon and Radnor county officeholders welcomed Jane Dodds MS and Councillor William Powell on farm in mid Wales to emphasise the importance of sustainable food production.
NFU Cymru Brecon and Radnor County Chairman Geraint Watkins and Vice County Chair Sharon Hammond welcomed the Welsh Liberal Democrat duo to the Hammonds’ fifth generation mixed farm near Llandrinod Wells.
The business has evolved from beef and sheep farming to encompass a poultry unit, fuelled by biomass and powered by solar panels.
Centred at discussions was sustainable food production where this model of family farming is replicated throughout Wales. With the visit coinciding with extensive media coverage of the UK/Australia trade talks, Geraint Watkins NFU Cymru County Chairman said:
“Welsh farming has been built up by family farms pulling together. With government policies leaning towards green credentials, it is a difficult concept to digest that the government would want to import food from the other side of the world, where water resources are already pressured. At least in Wales, rainfall is not an issue.”
Diversifying into a children’s play centre, the Hammond family have used the lockdown period wisely to expand their offering to allow more time in the open space for schools and families. Sharon Hammond, NFU Cymru Brecon and Radnor Vice County Chair said:
“Without the farming side of the business, we would have suffered even more from a very lengthy Covid-19 lockdown. The two enterprises complement each other perfectly, especially as the beef enterprise is under the cloud of a bovine TB breakdown. That takes some managing. Seeing the lengths we go to on grassland and nutrient management, it is a difficult to know how our farming systems will be able to compete with products being imported on a totally liberalised tariff and quota free deal from large scale feedlots in Australia.”
Jane Dodds, newly elected Liberal Democrat MS for mid and west Wales said:
“It was once again not only a pleasure to meet with the local NFU Cymru team, but essential for my work as the new Senedd Member for Mid and West Wales. The challenges facing our farmers, particularly those of family farmers such as the Hammond family, are greater now than they have ever been. The so-called ‘Australia-deal’, TB, water quality, and animal welfare are exceptional challenges for farmers in the region. On top of the amazing hard work during the pandemic that has ensured food is still on our tables, we need to ensure that farming in Wales has a sustainable and supported plan that ensures we uphold our communities, our towns, and our country.”
Geraint Watkins concluded: “This next Senedd term will see the introduction of an Agriculture Bill in Wales and the design and implementation of a new agriculture policy for Wales. In light of the lessons learned from Covid-19 about the importance of short supply chains and the UK Government’s position with regards to trade liberalisation, we would impress on the new Welsh Government that now is an opportune moment to pause and reflect on future agricultural policy. Central to a future support model should be a stability payment to underpin high quality food production. A measure to provide stability alongside measures to support productivity and the environment is crucial to support sustainable food production. The absence of this element is deeply concerning to our family farms and the wider community.”