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'Huge opportunties' in farming - Minister.

Byline: Sally Williams Farming Editor sally.williams@walesonline.co.uk

SECRETARY of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Elizabeth Truss praised the work of Wales Young Farmers' Clubs (YFCs) and the quality of Welsh Lamb when she visited Powys yesterday to meet farmers and landowners.

The Secretary of State stressed that she wants to see a "proper focus on rural issues", especially among young people who will be the next generation of farmers in Wales.

She said: "The Young Farmers' Club is a brilliant organisation and the members are the future.

"The farming industry is worth PS100bn a year to the economy.

"Some people think it is a sunset industry but I say it is a sunrise industry.

"There are huge opportunities for young people in food and farming.

"Wales has a fantastic farming heritage and there are some really great products coming out of Wales - in particular Welsh Lamb."

The Secretary of State met members of Brecknock YFC near Brecon. Kayleigh Jones from the Talgarth branch told the MP how she had been able to set up a successful design, print and embroidery company with help from the YFC.

Kayleigh said: "I had so much support in setting up my business - from how to set out a business plan right down to help with public speaking to help boost my confidence.

"The business took off and I could not have done it without Young Farmers' support."

Kayleigh said she had since sold the business on.

Funding cuts to Wales' (YFC) will have a big impact on rural communities, unions have said.

Wales YFC has lost PS360,000 from a Welsh Government-backed grant used to support its educational work.

Wales YFC chairman Iwan Meirion said he was "extremely disappointed" because both funding schemes were "essential" to maintain an educational programme for thousands of young people in rural Wales.

The Secretary of State also heard about a report featured on Wales Online, that shows putting farming on the school curriculum has widespread support.

The idea came out as a top issue in the Wales We Want project that aims to discover what sort of country Welsh people want to leave to their grandchildren.

Many farmers who were questioned felt agriculture should become a part of the national curriculum to help grow local farms and increase skills, leading to a strong local supply chain that enables Welsh produce to be readily available.

Sioned Davies, YFC member said: "We think putting farming on the school curriculum is an excellent idea and it is not being taken seriously enough. We think it is essential to give people a start in gaining the skills and knowledge they need in starting out which would be good for the future of the farming industry as a whole."

The report summing up the Wales We Want "national conversation" launched yesterday says climate change (26%) was the single most important issue facing future generations.

The report said only 1% thought crime and violence was the most critical issue, just 1% cited social care, 2% transport, 1% equality and diversity, 3% energy, and 5% water and food availability.

The views expressed in the report will be fed into the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill, which is currently going through the Assembly.

The Secretary of State was accompanied on her visit by the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire, Powys Councillor Chris Davies.

Mr Davies said: "It is fantastic to welcome the Secretary of State here. "Farming and the rural way of life is at the heart of our communities in Brecon and Radnor. I want to do all that I can to protect that way of life and to see it grow.

"Whether it is fighting for more funding for the farming industry or standing up for the small farmer - that is what I intend to do."

CAPTION(S):

Environment Minister Elizabeth Truss chatted to farmers and landowners when she visited Mid Wales yesterday. She is pictured with Powys County Councillor for Glasbury, Chris Davies and Andrew Morgan, owner of the Welsh Venison Centre in Bwlch, near Brecon

Ian Harrison
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 3, 2015
Words:683
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