New Government must stand firm on badger culling - FUW

DESPITE being only weeks away from an election, the majority of AMs in the last Assembly demonstrated they are capable of standing firm on the politically divisive issue of badger culling, showing a degree of political boldness not yet seen over the border in England.

Given the massive pressure the industry is under due to TB, one of the first things we will be looking for from a new Government is continued resolve on the need to control the wildlife reservoir, and action in the proposed badger culling area as soon as possible – certainly before we lose yet another year.

Looking further ahead, an issue which will dominate the agenda for the industry will be the CAP negotiations, closely followed by discussions on the implementation of the regulations.

Given that 80-90 per cent of Welsh farm incomes are derived from CAP payments, the incoming Government must take proactive action to lobby Westminster for a further move away from its anti-CAP position, and ensure Wales gets a fair deal both in terms of the CAP regulations and its share of the budget.

Because 80 per cent of Wales is categorised as less favoured, it is also essential Wales fights for a fairer proportion of European Pillar 2 funds, certainly in line with those in other European regions with similar handicaps.

The incoming Government must also recognise the injustice of the intention to do away with LFA payments, when they continue to be made to our competitors in every other similar region in the EU – except, of course, in England.

While the next term will last five years, the decisions made during this period regarding the post-2013 Single Payment Scheme will impact for much longer.

Modelling carried out by the FUW has highlighted the disruption which could occur for Welsh businesses if we do not work hard to minimise this.

The Government must therefore properly engage with the industry to minimise disruption and avoid some of the problems seen over the border since 2005.

● The FUW’s full 2011 election manifesto ‘Farming for all our Futures’ can be viewed at www.fuw.org.uk

Gareth Vaughan, Farmers Union of Wales president

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