Wales sheep industry in 'wipe out' warning
London, November 28, 2007
The sheep industry in Wales could be "wiped out" within two years, the body promoting Welsh meat has warned.
Meat Promotion Wales (Hybu Cig Cymru) chairman Rees Roberts wants supermarkets to pay producers more, said a BBC report.
Speaking at the first day of the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Llanelwedd, Powys, Roberts said farmers would face an "economic meltdown".
The British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, said it was a huge supporter of the industry.
"Make no mistake - the industry in Wales is in crisis and the whole of the traditional Welsh rural way of life is now under threat," said Roberts.
"We are facing economic meltdown. It is entirely possible that we could come to this event in two years' time to discover that half of the Welsh sheep industry will have been wiped out."
That will be bad for consumers, bad for farming, bad for employment in the meat industry and bad for the countryside, he said.
Roberts' warnings came as hundreds of farmers headed to Llanelwedd, where the National Farmers' Union (NFU) Cymru launched a campaign calling for a "fair price" for beef and sheep farmers.
The union said that, according to a report, 72 per cent of shoppers wanted to be able to buy British beef and lamb, and 80 per cent believed supermarkets should offer farmers a fair deal.
The union warned that unless farmers' prices increased, in future traditional dishes such as cawl (a Welsh soup) would have to made using imported meat.
Andrew Opie, the British Retail Consortium's director of food policy, said supermarkets had supported Welsh sheep farmers.
"Because of foot-and-mouth, supermarkets have really shown their credentials in supporting Welsh farmers," Opie said.
He said the main problem, in his opinion, was the export ban on livestock due to the outbreak.