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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 18:20 GMT
Army talks over farm hunt threat
The Cambrian Patrol - picture courtesy of the Army
The Army says many landowners have already been paid
Threats to ban military manoeuvres on farmers' land in protest at plans to outlaw fox-hunting were debated when farming chiefs met Army chiefs.

Some landowners in mid Wales say they will prevent the Army from training on their fields.

They have also called on the Army buy more British produce.

Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) president Gareth Vaughan said the meeting was very productive, but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would not comment.

Mr Vaughan met the Army's land Commander-in-Chief General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman at Brecon barracks on Thursday.

To some extent the Army is caught in the cross-fire because farmers have no argument with them
Ken Jones, farmer and huntsman
Mr Vaughan said: "It is obvious that they value greatly the opportunity to exercise on farmers' land and in future they would like to be able to more on private land.

"He (Sir Timothy) asked my opinion as to how best they could recompense farmers in some small way. The best thing they can do is to buy our produce."

Last month, a major Army exercise in Wales went ahead as planned weeks after farmers threatened to ban soldiers from training on private land.

The Army reminded landowners that they had given written consent for troops to use their fields and many had even been paid.

Foreign meat

At Thursday's meeting, which was also attended by Wales' highest-ranking Army officer, Brigadier Iain Cholerton, Mr Vaughan said the union would encourage farmers to stand as one.

He said the best way of achieving that was to say to the Army: "You are either with us or against us."

Some years ago farmers withdrew permission for the use of their land to protest against the MoD's use of foreign meat.

They have had an informal "gentleman's agreement" with the MoD for decades permitting training manoeuvres on private agricultural land.

Ken Jones, of Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, who has 800 acres at Bylchau Farm and is master of Irfon and Tywi Hunt, is one of hundreds ready to ban the Army from his land.

"To some extent the Army is caught in the cross-fire because farmers have no argument with them," he said.

An MoD spokesman said he could not comment on a private meeting.

But he added: "Certainly we are aware that some land owners may choose to stop Army training on their land.

"If that happened our options to mitigate the impact would be investigated."

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