Miller Freeman UK Ltd, Farmers Guardian
Proposals from the EU (European Union) to bring flax and hemp within the arable area payments scheme have been condemned by the Farmers Union of Wales.
With less than 10 per cent of land in Wales designated as eligible under the AAPS, such moves would have a devastating effect on efforts to significantly increase the production of flax and hemp in Wales, said the union.
Efforts in North Wales to establish a fibre flax processing plant aimed at supplying an end product to the automotive industry could be seriously jeopardised as a result of the new proposals.
The scheme had already received around pounds 0.5 million in EU funding, as well as significant backing from two local authorities, the Welsh Development Agency and LEADER groups, Cymad and Menter Mon.
“These EU proposals come at an extremely unfortunate time,” said Sion Aron, the FUW’s commodities officer. “Contracts for local farmers to grow flax and hemp are about to be offered, but the new proposals would prevent the crop from being grown viably on non-arable aid eligible land.”
“Around 7,000 hectares of flax and hemp fibre will be needed for the plant to reach optimum production. Any proposals which would bring flax and hemp within the AAPS would effectively pull the rug from under the feet of an exciting development which aims to utilise this natural, biodegradable and, therefore, environmentally-friendly product.”
Farmers in South West Wales were also seriously considering a similar venture.
“This is a typical example of how a totally viable diversification enterprise can be thwarted by the possibility of EU scheme reform,” said Mr. Aron.
Copyright © 1999, Miller Freeman UK Ltd, Farmers Guardian. All rights reserved.