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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Study shows farms support jobs
Richard Joyce
Richard Joyce often works 18-hour days to keep his farm going
The loss of small farms in mid Wales could mean a host of other businesses closing - with hundreds of jobs affected, claims a new survey.

Three farmers, in Builth Wells and Kington, took part in a study on how their money benefits the local economy.

They opened their accounts to reveal how much of their income is returned to firms in their locality.

The cashflow snapshot by the Farmers' Union of Wales reveals 190 employees of surrounding businesses were involved in transactions with the farms during 2002.

We are working obscene hours to keep the farm going because of the low prices we are getting for our produce
Richard Joyce, farmer

One of the farmers that took part in the survey was Richard Joyce, of Woodville Farm in Kington, who is the former Farmers' Union of Wales Brecon and Radnor chairman.

Mr Joyce, who owns a 72-acre farm with 280 ewes on the Wales-England border, issued 272 cheques, with an average value of 950, to 94 businesses last year.

His money helped pay the wages of 300 people employed by firms with which he did business.

Jobs

"These results show how farms and local businesses are interlinked in our communities which means they should play a central role in agricultural policy," said Mr Joyce.

"These figures are obviously speculative but we wanted to give some idea of the number of people whose work depends on a thriving family farm network in Wales."

Mr Joyce and his wife, Cynthia, often work 18-hour days to keep their business going.

"We are working obscene hours to keep the farm going because of the low prices we are getting for our produce," he said.

He added that other farmers have to supplement their income by taking on second jobs which, Mr Joyce claimed, was putting enormous pressure on small farm owners.

Rob and Jan Healey with children Vicky and James
Rob Healey wants a reduction in paperwork

Chris Lewis of the 300-acre Cwmbach Farm, Builth Wells, also took part in the survey and claims the results only confirm the effects of the aftermath of the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic.

"A lot of businesses felt the back draft of what happened to farmers at that time," he said.

Mr Lewis, who owns 80 suckler cows and 650 ewes, last year signed 108 cheques, with an average value of 864, for 62 businesses.

He calculated that 173 people working for local businesses were involved in these transactions.

"Small farms are fundamental to rural life. If they go then I fear we will get rural meltdown," said Mr Lewis.

Both farmers blamed the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs for not listening to their concerns.

Bureaucracy

"Everyone in the food chain passes the buck on to the producer but we can't pass it on to anybody else," said Mr Lewis.

Another couple who took part were Rob and Jan Healey, who run an 89-acre farm with 430 ewes near Builth Wells.

Last year they signed 148 cheques, with an average value of 956, for 41 different businesses and calculated that money went towards the salaries of 107 employees of those firms.

Mr Healey believes that pressure on farmers with small farms could be alleviated by a reduction in bureaucracy.

"All farmers are looking for a more simplified system to control disease," he said.

"Paperwork can't be more important than livestock."




SEE ALSO:
Cattle TB tests 'months behind'
20 Apr 02  |  Wales
Fear of TB epidemic in cattle
20 Apr 02  |  Wales


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