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Leading bakery supports protesting Welsh farmers

Village bakery, Wrexham supporting farmers; Robin Jones, Paul Andrew, Tom Breeze and Christien Jones. Picture Mandy Jones

A top Welsh bakery has pledged its support to protesting Welsh farmers and is putting their logo on its pies and rolls to show solidarity with them.

The Jones Village Bakery is also placing the No Farmers, No Food design on two of its vans as well as having flags flying outside two of its sites in Wrexham in response to controversial Welsh Government plans to change the way post-Brexit farm subsidies are paid.

The proposals contained in the Sustainable Farming Scheme have led to a wave of mass protests by farmers across Wales.

They are angry about plans that would force them to commit to a checklist which the Welsh Government says is designed to reward sustainable farming practices.

Among the most contentious proposals is insisting that farmers plant trees on 10 per cent of their land, with a further 10 per cent earmarked as wildlife habitat.

It’s been estimated that the scheme could result in the loss of 5,500 jobs in rural Wales.

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Jones Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “We have been following the news recently about the plight of the Welsh farmers and as a business and keen country people we think the proposals are shambolic.

“We have had our local sourcing policing for nearly a quarter of a century and if we can’t buy local, quality produce its going to drive up prices for the consumer and we think enough is enough.

“We can’t sit idly by and watch what’s going on. We are there to support and show solidarity with the farming community.

“This is not just about the impact on individual farmers, it’s about the whole eco-system of the rural economy.

“Farmers are at the centre of a vitally important economic and cultural network upon which the countryside depends.

“Without a policy that promotes sustainable agriculture which enables farmers to make a living, the whole of the rural economy is going to collapse.

“I’m very proud of what the Welsh food economy is all about in terms of quality and  provenance. There are some really great stories here but if we carry on this road, I am at a loss as to where we’ll be in five or 10 years’ time. Once the farmers are gone from the land they are gone for ever.

“The Welsh Government has done a lot to champion the  Welsh food and drink industry in the past – but this new policy will destroy it but they now appear to  have totally lost the plot.

“I have been an advocate of Welsh food and drink over many years and I was chair of the Welsh Agri-Food Board for a short period because I felt passionate about it.

“Sadly, where we are going as a country is unsustainable, both in terms of our rural communities and the interests of consumers .

“The upshot will be that we have less choice. The most sustainable way is to be as self-sufficient as we can but these proposed policies will have the opposite effect.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the Village Bakery’s projects director, Christien Jones, who said he was proud of the family firm’s environmentally friendly policies and its role in conserving a “magical” secret forest in the middle of one of Europe’s biggest industrial parks.

The ancient six-acre Erlas Black Wood belongs to the company and is located next door to their 140,000 sq ft super bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

Christien said: “It’s great to plant trees and it’s great to plant wildlife areas and a lot of farmers have been doing this anyway via the Glastir programme for many years.

“There are better ways of promoting sustainable agriculture than the current proposals that are ill-thought out. There is a lack of understanding about how farming works. There’s also a lack of empathy.

“Ultimately, we won’t be able to buy local produce if there are no farmers to rear or grow it and that’s going to drive up food prices.

“By the Welsh Government’s own admission, thousands of jobs are at risk – but it’s also a threat to a whole way of life and doing untold harm to whole communities and the Welsh language.

“We have lost other industries in Wales but food and farming has got to be protected.

“If you lose the capacity to produce food you open the door to lower quality food that’s produced to  lower standards in a less sustainable way.

“This campaign is our way of showing support for the farmers and saying they are doing a great job – we’ve got their back.”

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