DECEMBER 2007: The problems besetting Welsh agriculture are likely to send theindustry into terminal decline, particularly in the livestock sector,according to a landowners’ group.

The main thrust of the message from CLA Wales at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair was that the Welsh countryside is at greater risk than ever. The organisation is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to act now to save food and fuel production, as well as the landscape, rural communities, language and culture. It cited a number of factors which, it says, have conspired to deliver a situation that is unsustainable. And it questions whether there is the political will to facilitate a recovery.Welsh chairman Ross Murray is adamant that the problems are not of the industry’s making. The Blue Tongue restrictions have compounded the desperate livestock marketing conditions created by the foot and mouth outbreak, he said.He wants the Welsh Assembly Government to act now to ease the burden of state regulation, to ensure that the EU Healthcheck doesn’t militate against Welsh farmers, to adopt a more pro-active approach to planning, and to work on a raft of measures suggested by CLA Wales when the coalition took power.“A cheap food policy, the blinkered imposition of regulations and restrictions in response to disease, the blundering and utterly shambolic state of affairs at Pirbright … are simply making it impossible to continue,” he told journalists.“The CLA has been calling for urgent action on a vaccine for Blue Tongue since the disease arrived on our shores. Yet, while the livestock industry, particularly in the Borders, is being strangled by the regulations imposed to contain it, work at Pirbright is being impeded by the shambles surrounding leaking valves and drains,” said Mr Murray.

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