FUW Welcomes Step Forward in Bovine TB Control

The FUW has welcomed the announcement that researchers have developed 2 candidate skin tests for bovine TB which are able to differentiate between cattle infected with the disease and those which have been vaccinated against the disease.

The ‘DIVA’ test was created by researchers from  teams within the UK, Ethiopia, India, the Netherlands and the USA and includes work undertaken by Ser Cymru Chair, Professor Glyn Hweinson, based at the Department of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

The development of a DIVA test is a crucial step in bovine TB control.  Vaccination of cattle against bovine TB is currently illegal under EU and International law as it is impossible to determine if a positive result emanates from bovine TB infection or vaccination.  The DIVA skin test mitigates this issue as the test will provide a positive result in infected animals, whilst vaccinated animals will be negative.  

The DIVA test must now be evaluated in field trials to ensure that it satisfies World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards. It is likely that this test will therefore not be available for use within the next 5 years.  

Whilst the FUW welcomes this positive step forward, it must be recognised that the availability of a cattle vaccination against bovine TB is not the whole answer and does not represent a ‘silver bullet’ to TB eradication.  Vaccination is not 100 percent effective and a DIVA test, which leads to vaccination, is just one ‘tool in the tool box’ for future eradication and control policies.

Farmers to Lose Out with Latest 5G Network Plans

A fundamental change in the way that network operators seek out land for mobile phone masts and other apparatus has led the Farmers’ Union of Wales to express further concern that the push for 5G coverage will have hidden costs for the agricultural sector.

The FUW previously raised concerns over the revised ‘Electronic Communications Code’ in 2017 which has allowed telecom operators to cut the rents paid to farmers who have masts on their land. The rollout of 5G means that this problem is likely to accelerate. 

Under the code, payments are reduced from ‘high-tech’ telecom rates to ordinary agricultural rent.  Indeed, the Code states that the market value of land used for telecoms equipment should not relate to the use of the equipment and reduces the payment to that in the region of ordinary agricultural rent; with some contribution for fees if applicable. The FUW is aware that this can reduce rent from thousands of pounds per year to tens of pounds over an entire 10 year period.  This is a significant loss in income for such farmers.

If a farmer refuses to accept the reduced rent, the associated company can seek to impose rights through the Upper Tribunal under the new Code.

The introduction of the Code has severely impacted the relationship between landowners and telecommunications companies and this will undoubtedly affect the rollout of 5G networks in the near future.  The FUW is reminding those who receive income from telecom masts, or are approached for the inclusion of new 5G masts, to be aware of these possible reductions in rent. 

BPS Support Scheme Announced to Support Farmers

The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has announced a BPS Support Scheme for farmers who won’t receive their payment on day one of the BPS payment window; which will run from 2 December 2019 to 30 June 2020.

The loan available will be worth up to 90% of the BPS claim value and hopes to provide certainty and assurance for farmers as we approach 31 October.  The Support Scheme would be available to all but farm businesses must opt-in in order to receive payment under the circumstance that their BPS claim is not ready on 2 December.

The application form is NOW available through your RPW online account and must be completed by 29 November with payments hoping to be processed during the week starting 9 December 2019.  The FUW encourages all 2019 BPS claimants to apply.  Please follow click here for more information.