Blueprint Sets out a Vision for Farming; AGRICULTURE: Figures from Farming, Food, the Environment and Rural Business Act Together

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Byline: SHEILA COLEMAN

THE great and the good of Welsh farming gathered yesterday for the launch of a blueprint for their industry which has been "born, reared and raised" in Wales.

The distinctly Welsh document has been a year in the making and is the result of the deliberations of a special 17-strong group created and chaired by Assembly Rural Affairs Minister, Carwyn Jones.

The group, comprising senior figures from farming, food, the environment, and rural business, has created the 54-page Farming For the Future document as a "vision" for Welsh farming, but stresses it is not a panacea for all its troubles.

Contained in 52 specific action points are ways in which farmers and decision makers can work together to try and turn around agriculture's fortunes and help as many family farms as possible to survive.

The action points are split into two main categories - action which the National Assembly will take in Wales, and action it will take to influence the UK Government and the European Union in their decisions on the farming industry - such as reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

"This document represents for the first time ever in Wales, the publication of an embracing philosophy for farming, " said Mr Jones.

"It sets out a vision for the industry to achieve future sustainability, supported by a framework of actions that we in the Assembly, working with our partners across Wales, intend to deliver."

But he warned that farming had to change. He said, "If Welsh farming continues to try to compete on price alone, as a producer of agriculture raw materials, the future for the Welsh family farm and Welsh rural life are grim. Instead this document sets out a vision based on sustainability."

NICHE MARKETS

MUCH emphasis in the document is laid on developing high-quality, value-added branded products which consumers are prepared to pay for, rather than try and compete on a global market against countries with low production costs such as New Zealand and Argentina.

The document highlights the need for a much more integrated agrifood industry with farmers and food processors joining together to target their consumers and tailor their products accordingly. …