Gwyn Howells; MLC VIEW

Article excerpt

IN looking back over the past year it is impossible to get away from the havoc created to the Welsh industry by foot-andmouth disease.

It devastated the meat and livestock industry as well as severely damaging most areas of the rural economy.

However, at the time of writing, I am delighted that Wales has been declared foot-andmouth free and that we are seeing some small shoots of recovery - with exports restarting and lamb prices rising. We must all work hard to build on this new beginning.

My first year as manager for MLC Cymru started back at the beginning of April, when I took over from previous MLC Cymru manager, Huw Thomas.

It was a challenge to step into his shoes, as he retired after more than 35 years of service.

The FMD crisis ensured I hit the ground running in my new job. It also meant that I saw, at first hand, how it has been a particularly terrible tragedy for all farming families, coming on the back of low, and falling, farm incomes.

We at MLC refocused our resources to help the industry respond to its new challenges. A good practical example is that, early on, we set up and managed a telephone helpline 12 hours a day, seven days a week, which provided guidance to more than 20,000 callers.

At its peak we had 10 MLC staff helping to answer a wide range of inquiries from technical aspects of livestock movements under licence through to deadweight selling, and exports of hides and skins. …