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BBC Wales's Rhys Evans
"Plaid will say that family farms are in crisis and must be put at the forefront of government policy"
 real 56k

Friday, 18 May, 2001, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Election battle for rural votes
Huntman leader fox hunt
Politicians in Wales are battling to win the rural vote in the general election.

Launching their rural agenda on Friday, the Liberal Democrats warned that there is no "quick fix" to the problems facing the countryside.

Plaid Cymru logo
Plaid will highlight family farms in crisis

Plaid Cymru meawhile, are stressing the importance of the family farm to safeguard agriculture in Wales.

They want to see a special entrants scheme to get more young farmers into the industry . Cost and details would be worked out by the Welsh Assembly

BSE, the foot-and-mouth crisis and the threat to the future of fox-hunting, top a long list of crises to hit the Welsh countryside.

With a growing sense of despair in rural communities, politicians have been keen to press home their commitment to rural communities - and secure their vote.

Rural voters may not be numerous but, in all except one of Wales's 40 constituencies, there are countryside issues which, some believe, could be enough to swing some results.

Nigel Evans
Nigel Evans: Pound proud

Farmers in Wales hit by BSE and then foot-and-mouth are being compensated, but they have said their incomes were already at an all-time low - and many are planning to abandon farming completely.

Friday also marks the UK launch of the Green Party's manifesto. The party is fielding six candidates in Wales.

The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance will also be attempting to influence voters and candidates through its "real rural agenda".

Labour meanwhile will be turning their attention to what they claim would be the effect of Conservative cuts in public spending.

They will warn that free access to museums in Wales would have to be scrapped if the Tories took power.

As part of their save the pound campaign, Welsh Conservative campaign leader Nigel Evans will pay his 500 candidate's deposit in a novel way - completely in 1 coins.

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