As previously mentioned, we had a visit to our farm last week from Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs in Wales. She was accompanied by a collection of media followers, including BBC Farming Today and their Welsh rural affairs TV unit, plus the Welsh speaking Ffermio programme on S4C, the Welsh TV channel. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain, but that did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm that pervaded our conversations.
I gained the impression that the Welsh ‘conventional’ farming community have taken a very defensive position about the post-Brexit farming policy package proposals, not least because they are feeling pretty demoralised producing mainly grass fed lamb and beef at less than the cost of production for commodity buyers who are not really interested in the precarious economic environment in which farmers are operating. Accordingly, their stance is ‘we need our annual social security cheque to keep us in business’.
I feel enormous empathy towards all this, but if I am honest, I also know that the ideas that the Welsh Assembly Government policy team are promoting will offer a much better future for the Welsh farming community, than the commodity slavery environment in which they are presently trapped. Their proposals include an emphasis on quality over quantity, a whole farm approach towards sustainable management, including holistic grazing, reduction or elimination of chemical fertiliser inputs and a strong emphasis on provenance.
It must be very hard to buy into this vision when you are suffering as much as most Welsh farmers are right now, but I do think this is the way ahead.
Read more about the visit from Lesley Griffiths here.
Photograph: Matthew Morris
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