18/06/2014 The Wales Report


What does the future hold for Welsh farming and is the role of the children's commissioner for Wales fit for purpose? With Huw Edwards.

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We ask him what changes he think are needed.


And separating news from public relations.


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Good evening and welcome to the Wales Report,


On tonight?s programme, we talk about farming.


The industry is worth ?150 million a year to the Welsh economy


and around 60,000 people depend on it for their livelihoods.


It?s a big employer but it?s a way of life too, with very deep


The problem is that those livelihoods are affected


by big changes to the agricultural subsidies paid


The Welsh Government is responsible for distributing the European money,


but it?s accused of accelerating the impact of cuts in subsidies


by making changes to the payment system, which means farmers will


We?ll be talking to Minister for Natural Resources and Food,


But first Helen Callaghan looks at what the future could hold


Farming in Wales has always been a family affair with the skills and


knowledge needed to farm the harshest areas passed down from


generation to generation. It's a way of life that persists in 2014 but in


many cases this is only made possible by European subsidies. But


as those subsidies across Europe begin to decline Welsh agriculture


could be entering a new reality. Farmer could be replaced by Herd


manager. This mega- Dearie near Carmarthen is among the largest in


the UK and currently has 2000 cows and produces around 60,000 litres of


milk daily. To increase efficiency cows are housed indoors and milked


three times a day. Farming is though different to any of the business. We


have to be commercially viable. 60 odd years ago we had subsidies and


time has moved on. Time could be moving on to quickly for some. John


Davies has been running this sheep and beef farm to 25 years and thinks


his way of life and his community are at risk. Nice to meet you. I


honestly love this job and I love our community. We have a lot of


young people involved and it is a vibrant area to live in. I don't


want to lose that. There are many areas in Wales under threat in the


future. It is argued that many of Wales' farms only survived because


of high levels of subsidy from Europe. Especially in difficult


upland areas. The Common Agricultural Policy contributes over


?300 million a year to Wales' rural communities. This budget is falling.


According to the Minister for natural resources and food, Alun


Davies, we can expect more productions when it is reformed


again in 2020. Welsh agriculture needs to be prepared to run on a


more commercial basis. If we constantly and only and uniquely


rely upon a payment system that is declining in value in real terms,


many farms in Wales will not be viable in the future. There are


concerns that this low subsidy future is being brought to bear on


Welsh agriculture sooner than it is on the rest of the UK and Europe.


Alun Davies has chosen to move 15% of direct payments to farmers into


another funding part, whether that can be used to support the wider


rural economy. It's the maximum amount he is allowed to move and he


drew -- under EU rules. It is a disadvantage because the cat is


bigger and quicker but now we need to make sure that we get that back.


We must not lose that. Farmers right across Wales are having to find new


efficiencies and ways of diversifying their incomes and those


who want or can't become more commercially viable are likely to


have a very difficult future. That is according to the expert in rural


economic. Farmers have known for a long time that subsidies are not


going to be here forever. The smarter ones and the ones with the


opportunity to diversify their businesses and moved into areas


unrelated to farming. We are a thing of the difficulty in adjustment will


be is where farms have little opportunity to diversify. They are


far away, in remote locations so they can't gain access to employment


or market opportunities in towns. So with traditional farming practices


under increasing pressure are intensive measures going to be the


norm? I don't think this is the only way that fits. As long as you are in


control of your cost of production I don't really think it makes a


difference what type of farming you do. This is one solution but there


are others. Whatever shape Welsh agriculture takes in the future,


farmers like John Davies are advising caution or the iconic image


of the Welsh sheep farmer could be consigned to history. I believe


generations of hard work are under threat and it's important we don't


lose these core skills. They are under threat in many areas. We are


talking about community, the language and the whole culture. When


the Common Agricultural Policy is reformed again in 2020 the subsidy


environment for farmers will have changed dramatically. Policy


decisions being taken now by the Welsh Government will either have


left capped at -- agriculture more resilient or alternatively fallen


behind the Contra -- cognition. By 2020 rural Wales could look very


different. Joining me now is the Minister


for Natural Resources and Food, What is your vision for farming in


Wales by the end of the decade? We wanted to be profitable and


resilient and underpinning a prosperous rural economy. We want to


make investments today that will ensure our farmers and farms are


able to be competitive in the future. There is no single model for


the future. What I have done is created the biggest investment


opportunity in Welsh agriculture in generations. So the farmer who is no


longer getting direct payments or not as much as in the past is going


to be wondering when he talks about investment what does he mean? Nobody


disagrees with my basic analysis that we're going to see a reduction


in subsidies. If they farm is dependent on a subsidy and if that


is going to fall they need to increase their additional income.


Why are you accelerating that process? I believe we need to go as


a community in Wales to ensure that farming in Wales is a resilient


thing for the future. If we do nothing that farm will fail in ten


years time. Nobody wants to see that. We are building the biggest


investment fund that we have ever seen in Wales to invest in


agriculture, to invest in the infrastructure of agriculture and


the skills of agriculture. We want to give farmers the tools to ensure


they can not only survive in the future but prosper. In switching


from direct payments to the other fund, you could have switched 5% or


10% but you have gone for the maximum 15%. Why did you decide to


push it to the extreme? 80% goes straight back to pillar when


recipients. What we want to do is create an investment fund. He will


not create a successful industry in the future by simply doing what


we're doing today. Everybody agrees with that. I am confident that


farmers was to invest in their farms and invest in the infrastructure of


agriculture. We are going to provide them with the tools to do that in


terms of skills development. If we can do this we can create


inefficient industry that will be profitable and prosperous in the


future. We all agree we want to see that. What happens to those farmers


who are not accessing the money in a different way? Do they just


disappear? If farm is dependent on subsidy and that is no opportunity


to invest they will not be able to survive in the future. How many will


there be? I don't think it is that many. If you look at what is


happening in sheep and dairy and beef you will see that farms are


making investments today and are today profitable. I actually think


we have a great future for Welsh agriculture. We launched a Welsh


food action plan last week and that is based on the successful


agricultural industry producing primary produce that we all enjoy at


home with our families. My determination is that your children


and my children will have that same opportunity to enjoy great Welsh


produce. And when they look around them in the future they will see a


lot of those mega- dear these? Is that the pattern? It is a very real


beast in Wales. There are only three or four across the whole country. Do


you expect there to be more? No. I don't think there is a single model


for a sheep farm ordered dairy farm. -- or a dearly farm. I think you


will see a diverse and resilient and robust industry that underpins and


that is the backbone of rural Wales and of our language and culture and


our environment. I think we will -- we all want to see those things. You


are talking energetically about this area but how difficult is it there


to carry on those duties while there is investigation going on into


another area of your policy? It's not difficult at all. I am confident


in the way I am doing the job. I am confident that the work I am doing


today, I will carry on doing and we will make significant investments


for the future. I am looking forward to the next two years because I


think what we are doing in Wales is being radical but also being


realistic about the future. We have great opportunity to do this. I


believe in this industry. You want to stay in this job? I certainly do.


I believe in this industry. I think together we can create an excellent


future and we all want to see that. By working together with the


industry and the agricultural community we can deliver those


things. Wales is searching for a new


Children's Commissioner. Keith Towler is preparing to hand over the


battle. Willis led the way in the creation of this role being the


first government in the UK to appoint a commission at the deal


solely with the needs of children. But changes are needed to make sure


his successor can operate as effectively as possible not least in


the way the role is governed. David Williams reports.


Wanted, new Children's Commissioner for Wales. I think if you come into


this job as the Children's Commissioner with a whole set of


ideas about things you want to do you going about it the way. You must


have the ability to listen. What you need to do is meet with children and


talk with them and really listen to what children are saying. Must be


prepared for tricky questions. We asked him a question about his


favourite superpower and he said it would be if he could fly. It is a


difficult job but it's well paid. I get paid ?92,000 a year.


Satisfaction guaranteed. I will never have a job as good as this. I


know whatever happens to me next I will always look at this period as


the best part of my career. Keith Towler is coming to the end of his


fixed seven-year term of office and the hunt is on for his successor.


It's a tough act to follow. The current Children's Commissioner is


always game for a laugh. His natural self-effacing style always puts


young people at ease. But perhaps the biggest asset of all is his


ability to listen and to talk to young people on their own terms. I


figured is a good idea to listen to the children to find out what they


think is bad and good. This is the agenda for the day. I will need my


glasses. Seven years ago when I first met the Children's


Commissioner those talents were obvious to everyone, including the


people on the panel which appointed him. Among them was then sires, then


aged 14. When I first met Ben he was this blonde child with glasses and


he used to sell white chocolate and then just looked like the Milky bar


kid. We invited Ben, now a 21-year-old student, to ask what


superpowers he would like to have to meet again the man he helped to


appoint? I interviewed for him seven years ago. He has done really well.


Awareness. When I was starting originally, I knew who the


Children's Commissioner was because I was involved, but as far as


friends and family, they had no real idea. Now he is more prominent. I


asked for cheese, but they put in June. Do you get choice? Yes, but


there is lumped in the gravy. These young people are the super


ambassadors, representing fellow school pupils on a whole range of


issues which really matter to young people. Issues like school dinners.


It is a dangerous object. No one is getting poisoned! The milk is


curdling, but you get career will sense. A sense of what is on the


menu in schools is the kind of sense of information which the commission


can use to influence those with the power to change things. Full is like


the Welsh Government. The queues are too long. Some children are hungry


in the afternoon and is a big policy message, particularly for the


Education Minister, thinking about attainment and attainment and


attendance and concentration levels. There is the meat of what the


Children's Commissioner does, listening to what young people are


saying and then lobbying on their behalf with those in power, but for


that to work effectively, it presumes that people are listening


to what the Children's Commissioner is saying and that is not always the


case. And, there is another problem. The current legislative framework


drawn up when devolution in Wales was in its infancy, is no longer fit


for purpose. The Children's Commissioner is finding it


increasingly difficult to do what he is supposed to do, be an effective


ambassador for young people. Legislation is very much off its


time and it is a bit of a mess, a bit ad hoc in modern Wales were we


now have an executive government and the National Assembly that


scrutinises our government. It raises questions about the


relationship with the commissioner to Welsh Government and the National


Assembly. Legislation has become out of date. Keith Towler is quite clear


about what should happen next. I would take the view that in modern


Wales and the moderate UK we should extend the remit of the Children's


Commissioner to use the powers that we will give the future commissioner


to extend over things like asylum and youth justice and child poverty.


None of those areas which I have spent time working on I have any


powers at all in relation to and it is time for change. Not only that,


he says his successor should be answerable to the Welsh assembly,


not the Welsh Government. In other words, doing away with any possible


chance after Iraq political pressure from the government of the day. It


is the first Minister who has the responsibility for appointing me or


the next commissioner and I would say that as the appointed human


rights institution, the Welsh Government have never ever


intervened in any way in what I want to do, but nevertheless, the


relationship is not the right one. Appointing a Children's Commissioner


to hold them to account is uncomfortable, you think about that


and you think how can that possibly be possible -- proper independent?


The accountability and the work programme of the commissioner should


be examined in the National Assembly. His views will no doubt


resonate with those charged by the Welsh Government with conducting an


independent review of the future role and functions of the new


Children's Commissioner for Wales. I cannot do any kind of spinning, I am


not going in there. Believe me when I say that ever the new Children's


Commissioner is Children's Commissioner is an whatever changes


are made to the role, the person chosen could do worse than take a


moment to examine what the man in the role now has done to enhance the


rights and increase the profile of those young people he represents.


You have got to be able to listen and understand what children are


saying, you need stamina to do this job, I think you should not rely on


e-mail or social media, websites, you need to get out and meet people,


go to schools and hospital, meet families, that is the most important


thing. It is a lonely place, you have to be well prepared.


David Williams talking to Keith Towler.


Over the past decade, the way we access news has changed


Your local paper may no longer be in circulation, but online outlets have


surged in number and popularity, putting global and local news


But while there are more ways to consume news, it seems there are


fewer journalists creating original stories and there's a greater


reliance on PR professionals to meet the demand for content.


In an exclusive survey for The Wales Report, we've discovered that in


Wales, journalists are outnumbered two to one by PR workers.


There are 13 newspapers in Wales with five journalists or fewer. Five


had just one journalist working on them.


In a moment, we'll discuss whether this is weakening our ability to


But first, broadcaster and media commentator, Steve


PR and journalism will always exist in conflict. They are opposite sides


of the same coin, one set of people trying to get their message across


and the other set trying to find out what is really going on. On the --


when the balance goes wrong it is serious, because unless you have


news rooms that are well on free sourced, things do not get properly


scrutinised and ultimately, what passes for journalism is actually


work PR material is just regurgitated. If that keeps


happening, it is the public who get short-changed -- where PR material.


I am not sure that digital developments are necessarily


entirely threatening. We have seen a huge upsurge in what we might call


citizen journalism or ordinary people and people who take an


interest are able to find things out and publish material which


previously only professional journalist could do. I think there


is probably as much good journalism going on as ever was, it is not


necessarily going on in the same places. People being drawn towards


or into PR, that is not surprising because that is where the money is.


When people drop out of the job of editor, quite often they appear in


PR. The problem is that the whole thing is shifting in one direction.


More PR does not worry me, what worries me is less journalism.


That was media commentator Steve Hewlett.


And here with me now is Sara Robinson, founder of PR


company, Cake Communications and Jason Evans, a journalist with


I googled for coming in. So, you go from journalism into PR, why? For


me, I spent five years in television which was fantastic, but I wanted to


write and I think this might be at the heart of the problem. I did not


feel like I was doing enough original writing and I fancied a


change. It was nothing to do with money, I took a pay cut. That is


interesting. I can see at more junior levels that that is the case.


I thought about the way that journalism is operating now in South


Wales -- a thought. It represents a source of news, but a powerful


source. How do you into wracked? PR is a source -- call what rate. There


is more and better PR out there. They can come to us and there is a


lady who is a charity volunteer who has won an award, is that the story,


we think it is to reflect. PR would provide the way end. I do not have a


problem with that -- we think it is great. What kind of approach would


worry you? Everyone is in PR these days. Everyone is trying to control


their image. You sometimes get inundated with stuff from different


sources and some of it you need to challenge, some of it is


propaganda. They will go in the bin. It is a tough time for the media


generally and for local newspapers. There have been huge budget cuts,


cuts in staffing, people have lost their jobs and news rooms can be


lonely sometimes. The staffing levels are down. What would you say


to the viewer who is thinking, she has been successful in this


company, but actually your business is about working for clients and if


that means covering up stuff which you do not like and promoting stuff


you do like, that is what you do? I would like to think in our company,


ethics is important. The industry has a responsibility to pick and


choose clients carefully, to represent people that they believe


offer goods and services that they believe in and from our point of


view, we work with a lot of charities and I think that the PR


industry has an important role to play. Ultimately we are here to


deliver a message for our clients and we want to work with journalists


and we welcome challenge to our stories. I see in magazines and


newspapers, and article, you will think it is part of the journalistic


offering, until you notice at the top of the page, in tiny letters,


advertising feature, it is that something you're comfortable with?


There is not much money around and paid for content are a threat. They


are a source of income, journalism is expensive. How we develop a


sustainable business model, whether it is a community asset approach, a


local approach, there is a passion for local news and on a local paper,


you are aware of it, people stop you and want to talk to you about a


story or challenge you about something, people love local news


and people want to come in -- and work in the papers. People want work


experience every week. Even after a week with me, they still want to do


it! It is marrying the desire for local news with people who want to


provide the news. Is the relationship between PR and


journalism in a healthy place? In my personal experience it is, but there


are challenges which need to be addressed in how we pay for our


journalism and sustain good high-quality journalism going


forward. I think local news is at a crossroads, the way forward is not


clear, I think that PR could become more of a threat to news unless


decisions are made in the future. That's it for tonight's


programme and for this series. But we'll be back after the summer


with more reports, investigations You can get in touch with us


on email:


Huw Edwards asks the questions that matter to you about your job, your health, your future. Calling to account the decision-makers here in Wales and beyond our borders too, each week the team bring you in-depth reports on pressing issues that matter to the lives of everyone living in Wales.

What does the future hold for Welsh farming and is the role of the children's commissioner for Wales fit for purpose?

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