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Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK

UK: Wales

Murphy's assurances to farmers in crisis

Farm incomes are less than £5,000 a year in some areas

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has met with representatives of farmers to discuss the crisis in Welsh agriculture.

The meeting is the first to be held between the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) and Mr Murphy since he succeeded Alun Michael as Welsh Secretary.

BBC Wales's Colette Hume: "The FUW says the fate of the farming industry now lies squarely with the Government."
The FUW says a meeting with Mr Murphy has resulted in a promise to put the case for greater aid for farmers to his colleagues in Westminster.

The union had put forward a range of options to alleviate problems faced by the industry.

"It is vital that the government understands the problems we face," said FUW president Bob Parry.

[ image: FUW's Bob Parry wants action from Paul Murphy]
FUW's Bob Parry wants action from Paul Murphy
Mr Parry is also calling on Mr Murphy to persuade agriculture secretary Nick Brown to re-start a UK-wide calf processing scheme as well as a ewe cull scheme.

No one present at the meeting, Mr Parry said, was in any doubt as to the depth of the economic crisis facing farmers.

"All the evidence points to this crisis being the worst to hit farmers in living memory," he said.

The union had highlighted a report by Deloitte and Touche which revealed that farm incomes had dropped by 57% in the last year.

[ image: Paul Murphy will meet FUW for the first time]
Paul Murphy will meet FUW for the first time
Farm incomes are at an all-time low with some sheep and beef farmers expected to make less than £5,000.

"The situation is desperate in many quarters," said Mr Parry.

The FUW had also planned to express its dissatisfaction at the £500m aid package announced by UK Agriculture Minister Nick Brown last month.

The union says the package contains no new money and is seen by those inside the industry as little more than a confidence trick by Westminster spin doctors.

They want Mr Murphy to release additional funding to the Assembly so that it can match the Objective One programme.

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