Welsh farmers are quietly ditching traditional farming in favour of new, more profitable uses of the countryside, after a historic decision by the Welsh Assembly to legalise the trade in human organs.
The soundtrack in the fields on Monmouthshire, Powys and beyond is already changing from the bleating of sheep who’ve mislaid their lambs, or forgotten where their food is until they look down, into cries of plaintive anguish from ramblers who are being systematically rounded up on Welsh hillsides, crammmed into pens and fattened for market.
‘We only use the best Welsh stock available,’ said an excited Dai Llewellyn, a hill farmer who’s been close to bankruptcy for thirty years and who now sees a brighter future. ‘They might be on a day trip from Cardiff, or maybe from the Rhondda, with a bit of unemployed time on their hands and just enough state benefit to pay for petrol to escape up to the hills, but once they’re there we’ll be waiting to round them up and give them as good a life as we can before ‘the time comes’.
The change in law could mean the revival of the Welsh farming industry after it was decimated by such disasters as Chernobyl, foot and mouth disease and unfair prejudice, and with lots of shallow-minded creatures roaming the hills in fake Gore-tex most weekends, their guards down, ruminating, Mr Llewellyn anticpates easy pickings and good times ahead.
EU legislation, however, prevents any stray ramblers from nations other than Wales being farmed for vital organs. ‘It’s an attempt to preserve the brand and make Welsh organ donation produce as exclusive as Champagne, or Pontefract cakes,’ Mr Llewellyn proudly explained. ‘It must be correctly labelled and Welsh Liver, for instance, now has to be spelt with two L’s,
Produce from the Welsh organ farming industry will be sold exclusively in Wales initially with a UK-wide market expected to follow soon after. Even more lucrative markets await further down the line in Europe or even Asia where kidneys still go for around £17,000 – worth far more to a farmer than a leg of mutton or a couple of pints of milk.
But safeguards included in the new legislation allow those who don’t wish to get involved to opt out. ‘As long as they don’t have a piece of paper signed in triplicate by the government to say they don’t want any part of it, they’re fair game – that what the law says,’ slavered Mr Llewellyn, ‘but what true Welshman wouldn’t want to see that piece of paper torn up in front of him in support of his country?’
Foreigners, like the English, have raised concerns that if they stray over the border they, too, may be accidentally farmed, a point dismissed by Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones. ‘All the English have to do is not come to Wales,’ he said, ‘but then, that’s what we’ve been saying for years.’