HC Deb 12 December 2001 vol 376 cc827-8
8. Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

If he will make a statement on the problems facing hill farming in Wales. [20044]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

The recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease has exacerbated an already difficult situation for Welsh hill farmers.

I therefore welcome the Assembly's strategy "Farming for the Future", which sets out a vision for the industry to achieve sustainability. I encourage farmers to work closely with the Assembly and other partners to ensure that the necessary changes are made to secure a good agricultural future for Wales.

Miss McIntosh

The House will be aware of my general interest in hill farming in the whole of Great Britain. What possible future does the Minister see for hill farming in Wales against a background of reform in the European Union and the next round of negotiations in the World Trade Organisation?

Mr. Touhig

There are a number of hill farmers in my constituency and I was talking to one of them this morning. He outlined some of the serious problems that he has faced and continues to face. He told me that what we must do above all else is to reinvigorate farmers and give them a new enthusiasm—young farmers in particular—so that they believe that they have a future. The Government, working in partnership with the National Assembly, will seek to achieve that. "Farming for the Future", the strategy to which I referred, will make a major contribution to that success.