Ceredigion’s Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams has once again raised the plight of dairy farmers in this year’s St David’s Day Debate in Parliament last week.
Speaking in the Chamber of the House of Commons Mark Williams warned that the crisis facing the dairy industry ‘cannot be overstated’.
This comes as the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, of which Mark Williams is a member, is taking evidence for their inquiry into this issue. Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee also published a report on dairy prices earlier this year, and we await the Welsh Government’s response to a review into the Welsh dairy sector which they asked Andy Richardson, which he submitted recently. In the debate Mark Williams reminded the Government that whilst all of this work is welcome and positive, action cannot come quickly enough.
Mark Williams then went on to call for more powers to the Grocery Code Adjudicator so that its remit is extended all the way down the food chain, and for HMRC to be more responsive to the needs of farmers so that tax payments can be spread over a longer period and tax allowances given for farming infrastructure, amongst other measures.
Commenting, Mark Williams MP said:
“We must remember that when talking of the dairy industry in Wales, behind these words are many family farms which are essential to the vibrancy of our rural economy, and that the livelihoods of many families are being jeopardised.
“There are no easy solutions, but as I said to the Minister in the debate, we need to look at the powers of the Grocery Code Adjudicator. We need to enhance the Grocery Supply Code. We need to be proactive help on exports. The EU needs to look at the intervention price of 15p and how low that is. We need to look at labelling. Public procurement remains an issue, and HMRC needs to look at its expectations of the people it is acting very irresponsibly against in many cases. These steps would offer real support to those in the dairy sector who are struggling to cope under the current circumstances.”