Thursday, 4 February 2010

Elin Jones visit

Nerys Evans and I hosted a meeting in Llanddewi Velfrey last week at which Elin Jones spoke to a group of farmers. We had a really good session with Elin outlining the policies which she and the government are following, and then an opportunity for questions and debate.

There was lots of praise for the way in which Elin has approached the job, and her knowledge and understanding of the farming industry, although there's always more to be done of course. Those in the industry certainly understand how Plaid can and does make a real difference in government.

One of the biggest concerns for farmers locally remains the question of getting a fair price for the produce they sell, and the way in which the large supermarkets are able to dominate and control the market, because four or five large companies are effectively pitted against thousands of small farming businesses.

Even for those who believe in the free markets from an ideological perspective, the current process doesn't operate fairly, and on this issue, the charge was led by Sir Eric Howells, who lives locally and frequently writes on this matter to the local papers and the Western Mail. When the market is distorted as heavily as it is in this case, we need government intervention to fix prices at a fair level.


Spirit of BME said...

You might not be suprised to know that I believe the market is always right.
A fair price is what the market can bare ,unless your costs are too high,then you bitch like hell and ask for handouts.Government intervention via regulations always add costs to your production, so the last thing we want is more government. I have not followed Mr Howells input ,but remedy is not government.
As for the five large companies /supermarkets ,they are now 2 big to fail,again thanks to sympathetic governments ,who have recieved generous party donations over the years.
My "friends in low places " tells me that in the past the first sheep sales in Wales (that sets the price for the season) only two buyers/agents from the five companies attend.They arrive in the same car!!!!

John Dixon said...


I think you make the point for me in your final sentence. Whilst the big 4 supermarkets may not formally be a cartel, their buying power has that effect as far as small producers are concerned. The result is a distorted market, and that justifies intervention. There are a number of different approaches to intervention, which would include direct price fixing or setting up an independent ombudsman to set prices (and Plaid have repeatedly called for that).

The alternative is that producers will go out of business. You might be happy to see that, but in terms of food security, it simply does not make sense to me to allow an ideological commitment to 'free markets' to drive Welsh farmers out of business and then force us to depend on imports for things which can be produced locally.