Campaign to 'shop local' gathers momentum

By staff writers
October 12, 2007

A campaign which started in rural Carmarthenshire to support farmers and other rural businesses under economic threat is spreading throughout churches in Wales and looks set to step over the border.

Churches throughout the UK as well as other community groups, are now being invited to join the 'Shop Local' campaign which reaches its crescendo with a day of action in a weeks time.

The campaign began when Independent Church members in Carmarthenshire agreed to hold a special Thanksgiving Day of support for local shops and other businesses. With village shops, post offices and petrol stations facing closure, the very fabric of the rural area was considered to be under threat. So representatives from over 40 chapels voted to urge their 3,000 members to 'buy locally' on Saturday 20th October.

"We believe it is our duty as Christians to challenge the system which is allowing this to happen," said the Reverend Kevin Davies.

The General Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches, Dr Geraint Tudur, urged all member churches throughout Wales to support the campaign.

In July 2007, the Union's Annual Conference at Llandudno called on the Welsh National Assembly Government to give priority to the farming industry in Wales, and to do more to promote local produce.

"I realise that this may be seen as a symbolic action", said Alun Lenny, who proposed the motion, "but it may divert some people from doing all their shopping in the supermarket.

"Even buying goods once a week at a local shop could make a big difference to that business. In the present economic climate in rural areas, Fair Trade needs to be applied here, as well as in poor countries in other parts of the world."

Over the past fortnight, the campaign has spread throughout 460 Welsh Independent churches and their 30,000 members, and now other Christian denominations and those of other faiths and no faith, are being invited to join the day of action on Saturday 20th October by shopping in small shops, rural garages and local post offices.

The aim of the campaign is to help people reconsider their shopping habits, and buy at a local shop at least once a week.

Recently the Office of Fair Trading found that large supermarkets and dairy processors had colluded to increase the prices of dairy products, which led to an estimated cost to consumers of around £270 million.

"Many of our chapel members in such areas live on family farms, or work in farming-related businesses" Alun Lenny told Ekklesia.

"I proposed the motion after seeing the despair among so many small farmers, who have been struggling for years to make a living. In fact, many dairy farmers are producing milk at a loss - living on loans, in the hope that things may get better.

"The Foot and Mouth outbreak in England which led to the closure of cattle markets in Wales has had a devastating effect. There is also great resentment about the low prices paid by the supermarkets, and outrage following the provisional findings by the Office of Fair Trading."

You can find out more about the campaign here

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