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Tuesday, September 14, 1999 Published at 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK


UK: Wales

Farmers protest as Assembly reconvenes

Belle the cow is led to the National Assembly protest

Farmers staged a symbolic protest outside the doors of the National Assembly as members reconvened to discuss emergency aid for Wales's agriculture industry.


BBC Wales's Simon Morris reports
The protesters stood with Belle, a prize-winning Holstein cow, to illustrate their plight and to direct members minds towards a key debate on Tuesday.


[ image: Protesting farmers call for government support]
Protesting farmers call for government support
Assembly Opposition members have accused First Secretary Alun Michael of failing to listen to their calls to reconvene the Assembly in August for an emergency debate on the crisis.

It is expected on Tuesday that Labour will come under pressure to produce an immediate response to the crisis or face repeat calls for Agriculture Secretary Christine Gwyther to step down.

'Pressure'

Mr Michael's administration also faces demands to find extra money for the health service in Wales, which also face huge funding problems.


BBC Wales reporter Arwel Evans: "The National Farmers' Union enlisted the help of Belle"
The Conservatives have tabled an emergency motion on the farming crisis for Tuesday afternoon and also intend to call for the dismissal of Ms Gwyther.

All three Opposition parties have urged Labour to devise a short-term aid for ewe culls and a calf processing scheme.

'Swift action'

Plaid Cymru president Dafydd Wigley said swift action was crucial to establish public confidence in the National Assembly.

The party will holds its own debate on the state of Welsh agriculture on Wednesday.

Mr Wigley, though, shares the view that Mr Michael and Christine Gwyther had not produced results in talks with Agriculture Minister Nick Brown to help Welsh farmers, he said.


First Secretary Alun Michael: "There are proposals on the table for the calves"
Mr Michael told BBC Wales that a stable future for Welsh farming could not be built up overnight.

'Constructive'

"We have been working very hard and put forward some very construcitve suggestions," said Mr Michael.

"I have said if necessary we would go it alone in Wales.

"We will do what we think is right for the long-term future of farming in Wales. It needs long-term planning.

"I will do everything in my power and everything that is right to help Welsh farmers."



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