County’s FWAG supporters rally to rescue

SUPPORTERS of the Suffolk arm of the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) are celebrating after putting together a successful bid to set up a new group supporting its aims following the demise of the national group.

The national FWAG officially went into administration on Thursday, but the Suffolk group has announced that it will continue its aims under the umbrella of farming co-operative the Atlas Fram Group, based at Framlingham.

The national organisation, which promotes environmentally responsible farming, hit difficulties after “exceedingly difficult” trading conditions in the first part of the year, its chair of trustees said.

Suffolk had a five-strong team, still unpaid after seven weeks. It will now continue as an independent company .

Glenn Buckingham, Suffolk FWAG Chairman, announced at a presentation evening at Trinity Park, Ipswich, last night that though it was very sad news to hear about the demise of FWAG as a national organisation, the team in Suffolk was determined to carry on and would be contacting their supporters in the near future.

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“In many ways it will be absolutely great to be working in a completely local format without the ties of the national organisation,” he said.

Local partners will sit on a farmer-led steering group, he said, adding he was sure local groups would help each other.

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““I feel sure local county groups will liaise and help each other with the different projects that our team are engaged with. As the picture develops across the country I think the farmers involved with their county groups will also be prepared to meet up and discuss issues,” he said.

Its local partners which include Natural England, Environment Agency, Suffolk Ccounty Council, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, National Farmers’ Union and the Country Land and Business Association.

These had all been “very supportive” , he said.

“Not least, our Suffolk team of advisers have been inventive and forward thinking in adapting to this change for which they need congratulating. It was as I said above very sad that we were in this situation but also incredibly coincidental timing that the day administration was announced our awards ceremony was due to take place and that the Minister Jim Paice who presented our awards was aware of the national situation, everything came together and I could announce our local future plans.

“It appears to be a complete reinvention of a past situation when Framlingham Farmers, which was the predecessor to Atlas Fram, actually employed a conservation adviser some 25 years ago. It also has to be said that the ethos of Atlas Fram and FWAG is identical in providing unbiased advice and services to farmers’.”

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