Him, Her, Me and the Ladies of March

By Angharad Evans, Y Tir Welsh Editor

March - well, what a trying month! The "Beast from the East" and Storm Emma joined forces causing the worst weather for the UK to see for many years.

With farmers all over the country longing to see the arrival of spring to ease the lambing period, in reality, arctic winds and snow challenged farmers to their limits and lingered for a long period of time.

Read more: Him, Her, Me and the Ladies of March

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Live Exports Ban would be ‘shortsighted’ says FUW

A ban on live animal exports would be ‘remarkably shortsighted’ given the uncertainty around a post-Brexit trade deal and agricultural tariffs, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has said.

The UK and Welsh Governments yesterday (April 9) launched a call for evidence on a UK-wide ban on the export of live animals for overseas slaughter - something not possible while the UK remains part of the EU, due to EU free trade rules.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We will naturally be consulting with members over this issue, but our current position is that it would be remarkably short sighted to introduce a ban on live exports at the same time as massive tariffs on meat exports to the EU might be introduced.”

Mr Roberts said such a ban could cut off an essential lifeline for sheep farmers, given tariffs of around 50% of product value could apply on meat once we leave the EU, and that this would collapse the trade in sheepmeat exports, which currently represents around a third of Welsh lamb sales.

“We fully appreciate people’s concerns about live exports, but we must bear in mind that the EU has legal welfare standards which are the highest in the world, and these apply both here and on mainland Europe.”

Mr Roberts’ comments echo those of the Scottish Government.

Read more: Live Exports Ban would be ‘shortsighted’ says FUW

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FUW Raises Concerns about Welsh Fodder Shortages

The Farmers’ Union of Wales says Irish fodder aid schemes highlight and add to concerns in Wales over the impact months of wet weather are having on fodder supplies and prices.

Diminishing fodder supplies in the Republic of Ireland led the Irish Government to introduce a fodder transport subsidy scheme in January, with payments of between €3 and €17 per bale transported, depending on size.

Meanwhile, dairy processors in the republic, which were previously sourcing fodder on the domestic Irish market on behalf of their milk suppliers, have switched to sourcing from mainland UK, with the first Dairygold subsidised shipment totalling 2,500 tonnes having arrived at Rosslare port on Thursday (April 5), and more loads due to follow in the coming days.

The 2013 Irish fodder crisis saw the importation of some 10,000 tonnes of fodder into Ireland, mainly from the UK.

Dai Miles, FUW Milk and Dairy Committee Chairman, said:  “Persistent wet weather has left many fields in Wales completely saturated for months, and grass growth remains extremely poor across the country.  

“Many of our members are unable to turn cattle out onto the land and this means an increasing reliance on diminishing fodder supplies as cattle remain housed.  

“We alerted the Welsh Government to concerns about the impact of fodder shortages many weeks ago, and reports of acute problems in some regions are increasing.

“The FUW would advise members to think ahead and to speak to their FUW county office if they have or anticipate problems in the coming days or weeks.”

Mr Miles said that the removal of fodder from the UK market through the Irish schemes would add to existing pressures on the UK market.

“We fully sympathise with Irish farmers regarding the pressures they are under, but with prices already extremely high in the UK and pressures mounting in parts of Wales, the impact of the Irish schemes for our members is naturally a concern.

“Above all else, farmers in Wales need to see a dramatic improvement in the weather. Otherwise, we will have to urgently consider schemes similar to those operating in the Republic of Ireland.” he added.

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From the Carmarthenshire countryside to Australia - farmer's daughter cycles for Wales at Commonwealth Games

If you have been around the Carmarthenshire countryside lately, you may have unknowingly crossed paths with team GB cyclist Manon Lloyd, who is representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Her parents, Farmers’ Union of Wales members Ian and Helen Lloyd, have been farming at Torcoed Fawr, Crwbin, Kidwelly since 2003 and the family have been here since 1919.

Their daughter however had other ideas for her future. Her passion and dedication to cycling means that the 21-year-old is representing Wales on both the track events and the road race on the Gold Coast.

“I was so relieved and happy when I got told I was on the team. I am proud to be Welsh and the opportunity to represent Wales only comes around every 4 years, and it being my first games I am really excited,” she said.

Dad Ian is proud of his daughter and is looking forward to see her race for Wales: “We normally have about 120-150 ewes but we have cut back drastically this year so we can watch Manon race. It is a tremendous achievement for her and we couldn’t be more proud.” 

Manon spends the majority of her time training in Manchester or racing abroad but comes home whenever she can and helps out with lambing and feeding the animals. But how has she been preparing herself for the challenge ahead?

Read more: From the Carmarthenshire countryside to Australia - farmer's daughter cycles for Wales at...

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The mountain calls - FUW to climb Snowdon three times in a day for charity

Wales’ highest mountain is calling Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) fundraisers once again - this time round the FUW team will tackle six routes in 12 hours, in order to raise funds for the Union President's charities: Alzheimer’s Society Cymru and The Farming Community Network (FCN).

Snowdon is one of Wales’ most famous landmarks, standing tall over the village of Llanberis. It is part of a close-knit family of jagged peaks and can offer views of Snowdonia, Anglesey, Pembrokeshire and Ireland.

Tackling the 1085 metre giant on Friday 22 June, fundraisers will have the choice whether to walk 1, 2 or 3 peaks on the day.

The first ascent will take fundraisers up the Watkin Path and down the Pyg Track, the second climb will go up the Miners Path and down the Snowdon Ranger Path and the final route will take walkers up the Rhyd Ddu Path and down the Llanberis Path.

“This is another fantastic challenge our staff and members have set themselves to raise money for our charities. If you are interested in joining the team, either by walking or in a supporting role, please contact your local county office for more information,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

FCN Regional Director in Wales, David Williams said: “As a charity, we are amazed by the lengths the FUW are going to in order to raise money for FCN and we are incredibly grateful to them for taking on this incredible challenge. The money raised will go such a long way in order to help FCN in its support of the farming community throughout Wales. We wish everyone taking part the very best of luck.”

Natalie De Maid, Regional Community Fundraising Manager for Alzheimer’s Community Cymru said: “ The FUW have set themselves an epic target with their Snowdon climb. Dementia is now the UK’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes.  

“Alzheimer’s Society Cymru are extremely grateful for the FUW’s continued support which will directly help the 45,000 people living with dementia in Wales.

“Alzheimer’s Society is urging everyone to unite against dementia. Unite now with the Farmers’ Union Wales and join them in their Snowdon climb to help raise money for people affected by dementia.”


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Glamorgan beef and sheep farming couple call for clarity on trade and funding post-Brexit

A Glamorgan beef and sheep farming couple have called for clarity on trade and funding post-Brexit on the eve of the 1 year exit countdown.

Farmers’ Union of Wales Glamorgan County Chairman Richard Walker and his partner Rachel Edwards, who run Flaxland Farm - a 120 acre holding just outside of Barry, look after 120 breeding ewes, 3 rams, 40 lambs from last year, 150 lambs from this year and 100 cattle (consisting of 37 breeding 60 young stock).

They are worried about the lack of progress made in trade negotiations and the fact that farmers in Wales still don’t know what budget will be allocated to Wales in terms of agriculture.

Speaking from his farm, Richard said: “We are 1 year away from leaving the EU, yet we have no idea of where our produce will be sold to and under what conditions and we don’t know how much money will be allocated to Wales as part of the agricultural budget. It is very worrying and I urge the UK Government to provide clarity as soon as possible.”

Even though Richard and Rachel have secured a market for their lambs with local butchers in the Vale of Glamorgan, the concern for the rest of the industry remains.

Rachel said: “We have managed to secure a market for our produce locally but that doesn’t in any way help the other lamb producers across Wales. Politicians need to understand that most of the lambs born this year will be sold into a post-Brexit market - but what exactly that market looks like, and under what conditions, such as tariffs, where and how our produce will be sold is a mystery.

Read more: Glamorgan beef and sheep farming couple call for clarity on trade and funding post-Brexit

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