Speeches recovered from the Conservative party‚Äôs online archive More…

Williams: A fair future for Welsh farming

Speech to the Conservative Policy Forum in Llandudno

"Ladies and Gentleman, it is a pleasure to be here this afternoon amongst many colleagues, and indeed friends. Thank you for inviting me to address you and take questions from the floor.

Let me tell you what we are doing in the Assembly, and in particular my portfolio area of farming and rural affairs.

We as Conservatives are driving forward our agenda for agriculture, the food industry and the countryside.

We want to regenerate our market towns and high streets. We want to see more affordable housing, which is truly affordable.

Conservatives want a fair deal for all. This is a very simplistic message, but one which would have a dynamic and positive impact on everyone's lives in the country if this statement was adhered to by Labour politicians in Local Government, the National Assembly and in Westminster.

Conservatives firmly believe that politicians should set the policy and leave the professionals in the field to deliver the policy.

Labour so often fail as many of their politicians meddle in processes which they don't understand, which often cause extreme problems.

As a farmer myself, I experience and see first hand problems that people in the industry are facing in rural communities. I remember reading the draft budget for the next financial year for Wales and feeling very angry.

There are many cuts in the agricultural budget, which will have a knock on effect for everyone living, working and visiting the rural areas.

We have an abundance of wonderful countryside and visitors love to see the beautiful scenery.

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Wales and must (at all costs) be preserved. The Government here in Wales seem to have it low down the list of priorities and in my view, it should be at the top.

Tourism and local produce go hand in hand. Ladies and Gentleman, local procurement should run through Councils. Councils should actively promote good healthy welsh produce through establishments such as schools, hospitals and senior citizens homes.

What the Government, both in Westminster, and here in Wales should do is tackle the ever growing crisis in the agricultural economy and focus on promoting tourism and local products.

When large multiples are brought into small areas, they often destroy what we are trying to create. They take away valuable parking areas and destroy community areas which will have a significant effect on tourism.

I was very angry when I heard that the Labour Administration in Westminster want to downgrade the protection of farmland, which, in my view, will open the floodgates for a barrage of attempts by a whole array of potential developers who want to cover some of our most spectacular and wonderful countryside with concrete.

What we need to do is to ensure that we do not have a further outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. Immediate measures need to be put in place to make sure that the computer data is in place so that the shut down of a country should be the work of a moment.

Biosecurity should be present in all aspects of rural life. The biosecurity of the United Kingdom is currently in a deplorable state.

This is due to a number of serious reasons including the lack of rigorous controls in our ports and airports, a lack of sniffer dogs and a gross shortage of custom staff.

We need to increase the number of sniffer dogs. We need to be checking rigorously the importation of meat and meat products to ensure that Britain is kept safe.

The UK has a natural biosecurity ring as we are an island. The question we must ask ourselves is why does this disease come into the UK?

Foot and Mouth was last, what is next - could it be human disease? Ladies and Gentlemen, I am being told down in Cardiff by Carwyn Jones, Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside that biosecurity is of paramount importance to the Labour Party.

I will put this to you - in light of recent events, this Government can't even spell security, never mind biosecurity.

Milk prices are also of grave concern. I have written to the Minister asking for the Government to intervene as we must sustain the healthy dairy industry in Wales.

The Industry cannot sustain selling below the cost of production and by the Government's very own enquiry they have stated that '18 pence has gone astray somewhere'.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this industry is in crisis and all the Government can say is '18 pence has gone astray somewhere'.

If the industry does not continue in a healthy position, it will distort the whole of agriculture and impact on the beef, sheep and cereal industries.

We are all aware that Welsh Food has been through several crisis's in the last 20 years, but the credibility of Welsh Food has been restored to its rightful place as the number one position.

We must not put this in jeopardy, and I am pleased to report that all parties want to see Wales remain GM Free.

The future of farming is perhaps one of the most demanding challenges facing Wales to date. Without new blood coming into the profession then farming will die. One of the most worrying features of the precarious position is the outward migration of young people from our rural communities.

To overcome this, we feel that agricultural training should become the norm. This would provide a rich skills base from which the industry could draw.

Affordable housing must be raised again here, Ladies and Gentlemen. Due to the ever rising cost of properties, many young people are being denied the chance to live in their own towns and villages.

This must be addressed as a matter of high urgency. We need a healthy mixture of all age groups in our rural communities for rural life to flourish.

This Labour administration has a lot to answer for. Only the Conservatives have the power and sense to defeat them. Please continue to support the Conservative Party. Together we can triumph."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech