By Meyrick Brown

In a hard hitting presidential address at the Welsh Dairy Show, north Pembrokeshire farmer Mansel Raymond said that the industry had come through three years of turbulent, difficult and extremely worrying times.

But he said it had shown that dairy farmers in Wales are tough, resilient, and always prepared to produce products of the highest possible quality, as well as meet the highest worldwide animal welfare standards.

Drawing on several years of experience as a member and official of the EU’s Copa-Cocega committee, he considered that, as suppliers into a food chain, farmers must now all work together to prevent the devastating turmoil of the last three years happening again.

He continued: “We all except we will get some unpredictability in prices, but I am pleased that milk buyers and producers are putting some models in place to help address the effects of extreme volatility –these models or formulas must become valuable risk managements tools.

“With just over 1,700 milk producers in Wales, the government has to do all it can to help our industry move forward into more sustainable times. Not least, the milk sector in particular is so important for the survival of our rural economies in Wales. It delivers employment from the farm gate to milk manufacturing, transportation and the service industries, all vital to the fabric of rural economies.

“The government has to take notice and consider the points being put forward by our industry during the Brexit negotiations. In particular, the fact that failure to sort out rights for overseas workers on our dairy farms will have a serious impact on the total industry –have no doubt there is a skill shortage in many farming sectors. This challenge cannot be ignored and Government has to take this seriously.

“With regard to animal health matters, the indications are that showing animals is going to become very difficult and costly with the newly introduced TB rules in place. We all fully recognise that this disease causes real emotional and financial distress for the many farmers severely affected who are losing, at great cost, many of their very best animals.

“The Welsh Government have been lobbied strongly on the consequences of their actions. They now have to show leadership and prove to this industry that they are committed to an eradication programme that is efficient. It is time for urgent action and we cannot allow this human misery and the slaughter of our dairy and beef animals to carry on without the wildlife eradication issue being addressed.

“During my four years as chairman of Copa-Cogeca I had the opportunity to meet milk producers across many European countries but I remain convinced that the Welsh dairy industry is among the best in the world. In shows such as this the wonderful quality of our livestock stands out as our farmers meet top professional standards”

Mr Raymond concluded: “Our consumers can be very reassured with the choice and quality of our produce and we must continue to press home to our consumers the nutritional benefits that out products have to offer –let’s look forward to a more profitable and sustainable industry for the future.”