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Ceredigion Preseli election candidates’ views on farming

General election candidates for Ceredigion Preseli are, from left: Jackie Jones (Welsh Labour); Mark Williams (Liberal Democrat); Aled Thomas (Conservative); Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru); Tomos Barlow (Green Party); Taghrid Al-Mawed (Workers Party of Britain); Karl Robert Pollard (reform UK)

AHEAD of the July 4 general election, Ceredigion Preseli general election hopefuls have outlined what they will do the support farming and the countryside.

As part of constituency changes, bits of north Pembrokeshire – including St Davids and– are joining the new Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency.

Other parts of the north of the county are now in the new Ceredigion Preseli constituency; which extends up past Aberystwyth and also includes Cilgerran, Crymych, St Dogmaels, Fishguard and Llanrhian.

Ceredigion Preseli (Pic: Boundary Commission for Wales)

There’s now a 15-candidate battle for the two seats, eight in Mid and South Pembrokeshire and seven in Ceredigion Preseli.

With a July 4 date set for the general election, candidates for the new Ceredigion Preseli seat are: Ben Lake for Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat Mark Williams, Welsh Labour’s Jackie Jones, Conservative Aled Thomas, Tomos Barlow for the Green Party, Karl Robert Pollard for Reform UK, and Taghrid Al-Mawed for the Workers Party of Britain.

In the run-up to the election, all candidates were asked: “The seat is quite rural in nature; what will you do to help farming and the countryside?”

Plaid Cymru candidate Ben Lake said: “Farming plays an extremely important role in both the economic and social fabric of our rural communities.

“At a time of growing global instability, it is more important than ever that the strategic importance of farming’s contribution to our food security is recognised, safeguarded, and promoted by Government.

“I would ensure that domestic producers are not undermined by any new international trade deals between the UK Government and countries such as Australia and New Zealand and I would fight for fairer regulation of the grocery supply chain, so that farmers and producers are treated fairly by the large food retailers who dominate the UK food system.

“I will continue to work with farmers, farming unions and my colleagues in the Senedd to ensure that our family farms are not put at any risk.”

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Liberal Democrat candidate Mark Williams said: “Farming is critical to the economies of Ceredigion and Preseli. While much of the farming agenda is devolved, much isn’t.

“The hastily drawn up Australia and New Zealand  trade agreements must be renegotiated in line with our own health, environmental and animal welfare standards. We need to strengthen the Grocery Code Adjudicator to protect consumers from unfair price rises and to support farmers.

“At the time of Brexit, farmers were told there would be no loss of financial resources for the farming sector and yet estimates suggest that Wales has been short-changed by £250m. We urgently need that funding.

“Welsh Labour have paused their dangerous SFS. We must ensure that the worst aspects of it do not return, and the industry supported, not threatened.”

Gren Party candidate Tomos Barlow said: “I recognise the hard work that farmers do to put food on our plates, but we also recognise agricultures contribution to the environment as the greatest driver in nature loss and pollution in rivers.

“To tackle this, we want to triple financial support (through the increasing funding to the Senedd) to farmers not only to make farming more job secure but also to help the transition to nature-friendly farming.

“I’d also look for ways to encourage apprenticeship schemes to encourage more young people to enter the agricultural sector.”

Workers Party candidate Taghrid Al-Mawed said: “Workers Party sees farmers as vital to our country, they are the backbone of society, without them, we starve… No farmers, no food.

“We want to ensure our nation is more self-sufficient and less reliant on food imports. Food from local farms going into local shops reduces the food miles and stops the farce of seeing things like New Zealand lamb on the shelves of Welsh supermarkets.

“Farmers are not just there for a photo opportunity with the local MP at the local mart, they need proper support from a government that puts them and their survival first, not corporate profits.”

Jackie Jones, Labour candidate said: “Our rural communities are a cornerstone of this constituency. They must be protected and nurtured. Labour has a plan for our rural communities:  food security is a top priority and farmers are vital.

“I will help to build on our successful agricultural cooperatives – doubling their size to provide small family farmers opportunities to work together. This will create the environment for greater resilience to stand up  to large supermarket pricing, providing solutions to agricultural supply, dairy, crop and horticulture.

“Labour will provide business support for start-ups, financial support for FE colleges and innovation in practice as well as transport, good housing, broadband and relieving poverty.”

Conservative candidate Aled Thomas said: “On rural issues this election is personal to me. I run my family farm with my brother and my dad and know first-hand the challenges that farmers face, and how badly they have been let down by the Welsh Government.

“As a young farmer and agronomist, I will use my extensive experience of the countryside to be a strong rural voice in parliament and fight for a brighter future for the future of the agricultural industry.

“Farmers are the best custodians of nature and wildlife there are, and I hope I can use my voice to enhance this further.”

All candidates were contacted.