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Warnings over falling beef prices

The Royal Welsh Show begins today at Llanelwedd, with warnings over the future of the beef industry here on the agenda.

There is concern too much beef from abroad is stocking shelves of retailers. Credit: ITV Wales

Meat Promotion Wales says supermarkets and other retailers are stocking too much beef from outside the UK, having gone back on pledges to stock more British meat after the horsemeat scandal.

It says the amount received by farmers in Wales and around the UK has fallen meanwhile, with some paid up to £300 less per animal compared to last year.

The Welsh Retail Consortium, which represents retailers here, has responded by saying that beef prices are related to wider market conditions, and are projected to rise later in the year.

“Large quantities of imported beef products are now present in some UK retailers and we must presume – for want of a better explanation - it’s because it’s a penny or two cheaper than our own produce....The big danger for our industry is that some farmers will feel they have little choice other than to get out of beef altogether and that will be a tragedy, not only for our industry, but also for the consumer....Our message to the entire retail trade is simple - use our products or lose them."

– Dai Davies, chairman of Meat Promotion Wales

Concern over lack of British produce in supermarkets

Welsh farmers say they hope supermarkets will finally sit up and listen to their message at this year's Royal Welsh Show. The event, at Llanelwedd, gets underway tomorrow amid concerns that retailers are stocking less British produce than they did last year. Hannah Thomas sent this report from the showground.


Final preparations for Royal Welsh Show

Final preparations are being made before the 2014 Royal Welsh Show gets underway at Llanelwedd, in Powys, tomorrow.

Organisers hope close to quarter of a million visitors are going to descend on the showground between Monday and Thursday.

Last year saw a new record attendance of 241,781. Visitors came from 40 different countries, and included new grandfather Prince Charles, and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Organisers the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society say this year's show is going to be just as impressive.

The livestock classes and special awards have attracted an unprecedented 8,000 entries, and there will be more than 1,000 trade stands.

Displays will include the King's Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery, with six horses pulling First World War saluting guns, to commemorate the centenary of the conflict.

Farmers have their say over new power to set wages

Wales can set its own wages for farmworkers - that's the ruling of the Supreme Court today.

The Bill, which gives the Welsh Government the power to set minimum salaries and benefits was originally passed - but was halted by the Attorney General.

However the move has divided farming unions, as Kevin Ashford reports.


Judgement 'a humiliation' for UK Government - Labour

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has claimed that the UK Government wasted "huge amounts of court time and taxpayers money on a pointless court case" when the Attorney General referred Welsh farm wages legislation to the Supreme Court.

I congratulate the Welsh Labour Government for standing up for social justice and Labour values in Wales, by fighting to ensure that low paid agricultural workers get a fairer deal. This second judgement in favour of the Welsh Labour Government is a humiliation for the Tory led UK Government. So determined were the Tories to slash wages of low paid agricultural workers in Wales that they allowed it to cloud their judgement.

– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP

Mr Smith also said that the ruling shows the need for Labour's proposal that the Assembly is put on the same "reserved powers" basis as Scotland. It would spell out what the Assembly could not do.

Meanwhile the Welsh Secretary, David Jones, gave his reaction, concentrating on how the judges have rejected a narrow interpretation of the Assembly's powers.

The Government is grateful to the Supreme Court for providing clarity on this issue. In its judgment, the court has favoured a broader interpretation of the provisions in the Government of Wales Act that govern the Assembly’s competence.

We now need to study the judgment in detail and consider its implications. The Government is committed to working with the Welsh Government for the benefit of Wales and will continue to make every effort to ensure that the legislative arrangements for Welsh devolution work effectively.

– Secretary of State for Wales David Jones MP

Union welcomes Supreme Court decision over wages

Unite, the union that represents farm workers, has welcomed the news that agricultural wages will continue to be regulated in Wales, as they are in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The union also wants the system restored in England, where it was abolished last year.

This is wonderful news for thousands of low paid agricultural and rural workers in Wales. It demonstrates that the robust stand taken by the Welsh Government has triumphed and it will give us extra impetus in our campaign to get the Agricultural Wages Board for England restored as the impartial arbiter of agricultural workers' pay.

– Julia Long, UNITE

'Sloppy' law bad for farming say Tories

The Conservatives have said the Welsh law on farm workers' wages, which has survived a challenge in the Supreme Court, is sloppy legislation, which caused doubts about whether it was valid and months of uncertainty for farmers.

Welsh Conservatives continue to believe that the Agricultural Wages Board is all about jobs for the boys on another quango. It is out-dated, complicated, and scrapping it puts farmers on an equal footing with other Welsh employers.

– Antoinette Sandbach, Conservative AM for North Wales

Plaid Cymru argued that the Supreme Court case shows the need for an improved devolution settlement. The party also claimed that the Welsh Government should have been more ambitious when it asked the Assembly to pass the legislation.

Plaid Cymru has always welcomed the establishment of a Welsh Agricultural Wages Board. More than 14,000 agricultural workers could be affected by this decision.

I want to see a new board with a much broader remit so that it can play a role in driving forward skills and training, and promoting careers in the agriculture industry.

Plaid Cymru attempted to amend the bill in order to outlaw the use of zero-hour contracts in the sector, but the Labour Welsh Government voted against stating that it would risk having the legislation challenged in the Supreme Court. This happened anyway.

– Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru communities and food spokesperson
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