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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Jobs at risk as dairy industry falters
Welsh Dairy Event
The concerns were highlighted at the one-day event
Hundreds of jobs are at risk because of the demise of the dairy industry in one of the most important farming regions in Wales, according to an agricultural union.

The National Farmers Union in Wales (NFU Cymru) have said other businesses will suffer as producers leave dairy farming.

Dai Davies, NFU
Dai Davies: "Starved of cash"

The warning was made at the Welsh Dairy Event in Carmarthen where thousands of farmers gathered for a one-day event on Tuesday.

NFU Cymru vice President Dai Davies says the drift from dairying could become a flood.

Latest Welsh Assembly figures show the number of dairy farms in Wales has dropped over the past 10 years from just over 6,000 to 4,000.

Mr Davies, a dairy farmer from Whitland, said: "All of us in the milk sector have our minds focused on one thing, namely the dismally low farmgate prices we are getting for our product.

"Many dairy producers are at the crossroads - they simply do not see a way ahead.

"I have seen a four pence a litre drop in the price I get for my milk in the last year.

Malcolm Thomas, NFU
Malcolm Thomas: Hundreds of companies are affected

"We are being starved of cash for future investment and many of us are producing the white stuff below the cost of production."

Malcolm Thomas, NFU Cymru's Policy Director says hundreds of farmers have left the milk industry in Carmarthenshire, Wales' most important dairy county.

Crisis

He said: "We surveyed a farm near Carmarthen and found that 140 businesses came through the farm gate over a course of a year.

"If that farmer packs in then all those community-based businesses would be affected."

The union has called for crisis talks with the assembly and the UK Government along with key processors and major retailers.

Talks have already been held with the major supermarket chains.


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