FUW asks for review of online only Gwlad decision

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has asked the Welsh Government to reconsider its decision to limit it’s “Gwlad” magazine to ‘online only’ from April 2016, highlighting the poor availability of broadband in rural areas and adverse repercussions for farmers and government as reasons why the service should continue.

An article entitled “Gwlad goes digital” in the latest edition of the magazine has alerted large numbers to the fact that the March/April 2016 edition of the magazine will be the last to be issued as a hard copy, after which many farmers will no longer be able to receive or access important news, including updates on regulatory changes, in their households or business premises.

“The decision to abandon the hard copy of Gwlad is extremely concerning given that the majority of Gwlad articles relate to regulatory issues, including changes to or the introduction of new rules,” said FUW president Glyn Roberts.

Mr Roberts has therefore written to deputy minister for agriculture and food Rebecca Evans to highlight the FUW’s concerns regarding the announcement, highlighting the essential role the publication plays in keeping farmers abreast of changes, and that access to broadband is still well below the national average in Wales’ rural areas.

“Like the vast majority of other members of the general public, farmers are far more likely to take notice of important information when it is presented in an easily accessible format, as is currently the case. It is frustrating enough for farmers that the rules and regulations are so complex and change so often. The prospect of being penalised for breaking rules which have not even been notified to us makes matters worse,” added Mr Roberts.

Mr Roberts’ letter concludes that: “When it comes to the regular communication of important messages through Gwlad we would ask the deputy minister to reconsider her decision to move to an online-only service, bearing in mind the limited extent of broadband access in many of Wales’ rural communities, the fact that such important messages are best communicated in the current format, and the potential impact for farmers and Government of failing to communicate important messages.”

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