News in Brief

i) FC First Innovation and Diversification Wales Event
Farming Connect are organising the first Innovation and Diversification Wales event on 26th September at the Royal Welsh Showground. The event offers support and advice for farmers in relation to the latest innovation and diversification opportunities. For further information and to register for the event click here.
 
ii) Sustainable Management Scheme EoI Deadline Imminent
The Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS) provides financial support for activities that improve the management of natural resources. Grants are available to those who are looking to improve natural resources, reduce GHG emissions and improve business resilience. Round 5 of the Expression of Interest window closes on 8th August 2019.
See here for more information.

iii) Farmers face more woes as Cowbridge Mart sets to close

Cowbridge Mart is the next casualty set to close, increasing livestock haulage costs for farmers to alternative markets such as Raglan, Carmarthen or Brecon.
 
Farmers’ Union of Wales is now calling for a stay of execution on the closure of the mart. The local council already have other plans for the site and are not planning to renew leases for local auctioneers, nor are there any confirmed plans for relocating a new market.
 
The FUW is concerned that this move will end trading in Cowbridge and subsequently increase the pressure on local farmers within an industry that is prone to mental health issues. FUW are in discussions with the affected parties to draw up an action plan in an attempt to secure the future of agriculture in the area.
 

Welsh Government Announce ‘Serious Consideration’ to be given to BVD Legislation

Earlier this month, at the Royal Welsh Show, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Ms Lesley Griffiths, announced that Welsh Government will give ‘serious consideration’ to the introduction of BVD legislation in Wales.

In Wales, since September 2018, cattle farmers have been able to access funds through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) for free BVD testing and follow-on hunts for Persistently Infected (PI) animals through the Gwaredu BVD programme.

The number of herds benefiting from BVD testing through Gwaredu BVD has now reached well over 7000. However, this leaves around 30 percent of cattle farms that have not yet engaged with Gwaredu BVD and may not yet know their BVD status.

The FUW welcomes discussions on a legislative approach which aims to reach herds that have not yet engaged with the voluntary programme and has considered the proposal with its Animal Health and Welfare committee. Further consultation with union membership is required to make sure that any proposed legislation is fit for purpose.

Not only is BVD a welfare issue, but this disease can also cause a significant economic impact on affected farms. Infection with BVD can cost around £45 per cow per year in a beef herd and around £15000 per year in an average 132 dairy herd. 

The FUW continues to encourage its membership to get involved in the Gwaredu BVD testing programme in order to safeguard and maintain the work already done by this programme.

Selection of Meetings Attended

FUW staff and officials have attended numerous meetings and events at the 2019 Royal Welsh Show on behalf of members. In addition to these, other meetings attended include;

  • Meeting with Peter McDonald
  • Meeting with Rural Payments Wales
  • Meeting of the National Access Forum for Wales
  • Meeting of the Wales Land Management Sub-group
  • Meeting with Hybu Cig Cymru
  • Meeting on Area Statements
  • BVDzero Congress
  • Gwaredu BVD Steering Group
  • Meeting of the Bovine Industry Group
  • Meeting of the TB Hub group
  • Meeting to discuss Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Meeting of the Commons Act 2006 Advisory Group
  • Meeting of the General Licenses Stakeholder Group
  • Meeting of the Nature Action Recovery Plan Stakeholder Group
  • Meeting of the Livestock ID Action Group
     

FUW Seminar Highlights the Mental Health Impacts of a TB Breakdown

In recognition of the significant economic and mental health impacts of bovine TB, the Farmers’ Union of Wales organised and hosted an open seminar at the Royal Welsh Show entitled ‘What impacts do TB breakdowns have on mental health?’. The seminar was designed to facilitate discussion on the real and devastating ground-level consequences of a TB breakdown and the effect of this disease on farming families in Wales. 

According to Defra’s bovine TB statistics for Wales, in the 12 months up to the end of April 2019, the total number of animals slaughtered was almost 12,000. Over 1000 herds were under movement restrictions and the total number of cattle tests carried out was greater than 2 million. Despite rigorous cattle controls and a huge volume of cattle tests, there were 722 new incidents.
 
Alongside Ben Lake MP, joining the FUW at the seminar were speakers from Tir Dewi, the DPJ Foundation, Farming Community Network and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution. Members of the panel discussed the efficacy of the current Bovine TB eradication policy and testing regime and the need for a compassionate approach to bovine TB eradication which considers the impact upon farming families and their businesses. 

To date, discussions and programmes on controlling the disease in Wales have almost entirely centred on animal health issues and the FUW believes that a much greater emphasis should be paid to the economic issues surrounding bovine TB.
 
Now the FUW has written to the Minister proposing the establishment of a Wales Bovine TB Economics Task and Finish Group, at arm's length from animal health, to provide robust, Welsh specific, information on the emotional and economic impact of a TB breakdown and the subsequent mental health impacts on farmers.
 
Under the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the Welsh Government is obligated to take account of the long-term impact of their decision making. The FUW recognises that issues including loss of stock, problems with cash flow, costs of housing and feeding additional stock, loss of business control and uncertainty over the future, inevitably impact on the emotional well-being of farming families. However, the true impact is likely to have been underestimated.
 
Farmers trying to operate their business under a bovine TB breakdown are at breaking point. Given that mental health is inextricably linked to farm business sustainability and solvency, we must fully understand the ground-level grass roots consequences of this disease.

Consultations Pending

i) Sustainable Farming and our Land Consultation
The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Ms Lesley Griffiths has announced the launch of a second consultation on the future of farm payments in Wales. The ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation’ was launched on 9th July and follows on from the 2018 ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation.
Please read ‘FUW Remains Concerned about Proposed Changes to Farm Payments’ for further details.

See here for the consultation document.

Deadline for responses is 30th October 2019.

The FUW will be holding special meetings to discuss the way forward and will be announcing the dates and locations of these meetings across Wales in the coming weeks.

ii) Welsh Government - Our ambition to further develop Wales’ food and drink sector
Welsh Government are seeking responses to the Welsh Government and the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board’s joint proposals for a strategic plan to further advance the food and drink sector in Wales for the period 2020-2026.

The proposals build on the Towards Sustainable Growth, an action plan that was developed from the 2010 strategy Food for Wales, Food from Wales report.

The consultation describes a strategic vision and mission for the sector, and describes the main objectives and actions WG propose to undertake. 
 
Welsh Government and the Food and Drink wales Industry Board plans to publish a strategic plan for 2020-2026 in late 2019 or early 2020.

For further information please follow click here.

The consultation closes on the 15th October 2019.

iii) Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water Draft Drought Plan 2020
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water have released a draft Drought Plan consultation for 2020.
 
In the consultation, Dŵr Cymru explain how they determine whether there is a drought developing (by monitoring rainfall, river flow, reservoir storage, groundwater levels, level of demand), the trigger factors used to determine each level of drought and what actions are to be taken at each level.
 
The draft plan also describes Dŵr Cymru’s communication plan and the point at which ‘end of drought’ is declared.

The FUW wants to highlight that this topic is increasingly important for farmers to consider, especially those using vast amounts of water such as dairy herds. Scarcity of water supply is an increasingly common scenario, for example during the dry Summer of 2018 and therefore is something which farmers should be considering.
 
For further information please follow click here.
 
The consultation closes on the 19th of September 2019.
 
iv) WG Draft National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management
Welsh Government have released their 'Draft National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in Wales'.
 
The aim of the strategy is to ensure that the risks to people and communities from flooding and coastal erosion are effectively managed.
 
The objectives are to:
A = Improve our understanding and communication of risk
B = Preparedness and Building Resilience
C = Prioritise investment to the most at risk communities
D = Prevent more people becoming exposed to risk
E = Provide an effective and sustained response
 
The consultation document explains the responsibilities of each organisation (e.g - Welsh Government, NRW, water companies) in terms of flooding and erosion, how funding is allocated and outlines the various measures which they intend to put in place as a part of this strategy.
 
The 'Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) - Environmental Report' acts to ensure that the environmental effects have been taken into consideration when developing the National Strategy, as well as technical, economic and other considerations.
 
The SEA focused on objectives A, C and D and their possible significant effects on factors such as human health, biodiversity, water, cultural heritage and the climate.
 
For further information please follow click here.
 
The consultation closes on the 16th of September 2019.
 
v) Groceries Code Adjudicator Statutory Review
 The Government is required to review the performance of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) every few years, with this review covering the period between 1st April 2016 to 31 March 2019.
 
The GCA are responsible for monitoring and enforcing The Groceries Supply Chain Code of Practise between groceries retailers (the 12 largest supermarkets) and their direct suppliers (GCA powers do NOT include farmers who sell produce indirectly, such as those selling their milk to processors, only those selling direct to the largest supermarkets).
 
The review concentrates on:
• how the GCA’s powers have been exercised;
• how effective the GCA has been in enforcing the Code;
• whether to amend or replace the Groceries Code Adjudicator (Permitted Maximum Financial Penalty) Order 2015; and
• whether to make an Order setting out the information that the GCA may consider when deciding whether to investigate
 
For further information please follow click here.
 
The consultation closes on the 12th of September 2019

FUW Discusses Urgent Farming Matters with Secretaries of State and Welsh Farming Minister

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the opportunity to discuss critical farming issues with Secretaries of State, Michael Gove and Alun Cairns, and the Welsh Farming Minister Lesley Griffiths at the Royal Welsh Show.

As part of these discussions, the FUW highlighted the disastrous impacts of a no-deal Brexit on Welsh agriculture and the union pursued its policy that no responsible UK Government would allow the UK to leave without a deal.

The FUW continues to highlight the grave economic impacts for agriculture, rural communities and other industries of a hard Brexit. Latest figures from Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) suggest that 92.5% of Welsh lamb exports could disappear under a no-deal Brexit and with the tariff rates proposed under this scenario. The union also expressed concern that the Republic of Ireland could still act as a tariff-free backdoor for cheaper produce to the home market.

Alongside issues pertaining to Brexit, the FUW raised on-going concerns relating to both Bovine TB and future NVZ-type regulations.

The FUW reiterated its call for the wider consequences of TB to be recognised in Welsh eradication policy and also highlighted that the high TB levels in Wales could jeopardize future export markets and trade negotiations. At present, criteria within the EU for achieving TB Free Status consists of i) demonstrating that the percentage of herds confirmed as infected with TB has not exceeded 0.1% per year for all herds for six consecutive years and ii) at least 99.9% of herds have achieved TB Free Status for each year for six consecutive years.

The FUW also reiterated its concerns regarding the lack of proportionality displayed by increasing the areas of Wales subject to NVZ type regulations from 2.7% to 100% and highlighted the significant costs to compliant farmers of adhering to these regulations.
 

FUW Academi Launched

As part of its commitment to the future of Welsh farming, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is pleased to announce the establishment of a new FUW Academi for young farmers over the age of 26.
 
The FUW Academi, which was launched at the Royal Welsh Show, provides all year round activities and events through a network of groups which give a focal point for gathering together and catching up on the latest farming practices.
 
Three FUW Academi field trips every year will be organised through the FUW’s unique county office structure, providing a variety of farm visits and other experiences.

Members will receive a monthly agricultural bulletin with all the latest news and advice on grants, training and partnerships; B+E trailer training and test discounted to £420, fully funded training programmes, FUW member discounts and a monthly copy of ‘Y Tir’.

Membership for the FUW Academi is only £4.50 a month.

FUW Remains Concerned about Proposed Changes to Farm Payments

Earlier this month, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Ms Lesley Griffiths, announced the launch of a second consultation on the future of farm payments in Wales. The ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation’, which was launched on 9th July, follows the 2018 ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation and runs until 30th October 2019.

As with its predecessor, this new consultation proposes that future support should be designed around the principle of sustainability in a way which brings together the ‘wide-ranging and significant economic, environmental and social contribution or farmers’. The consultation proposes a single Sustainable Farming Scheme based on the principles of providing a ‘meaningful and stable income stream; rewarding outcomes in a fair way; paying for both new and existing sustainable practices; and flexibility allowing it to apply to every type of farm’.

The FUW welcomes the fact that this consultation document acknowledges many of the concerns raised by the union to last years Brexit and our Land consultation, and the improved focus on farmers and food producers is also welcomed. References within the consultation to undertake detailed modelling and economic assessments, capping and/or tapering payments and a focus on active farmers are also principles which the FUW lobbied for in any future scheme.

However, it must be recognised that the basic underlying principles have not changed from the original Brexit and our Land proposal. Indeed, the consultation proposes a fundamental shift away from direct support for farmers towards what is, in essence, a public goods scheme. The significant concerns highlighted in the FUW’s response to the previous Brexit and our Land proposals therefore remain valid.

Such concerns include the fact that farmers in the EU will continue to receive direct support, while Welsh farmers would not. This means that Welsh farmers would be asked to do more and be faced with greater restrictions, whilst still being expected to compete on even terms with their EU counterparts. This concern also relates to competition with Scottish and Northern Irish farmers if they continue to receive some form of direct support.
 
FUW is also concerned that the ambition of what is proposed, in terms of farm visits and negotiating contracts with farmers, is unprecedented.

Given the significant impact of the proposals contained within this consultation, the FUW will be holding special meetings to discuss the way forward and will be announcing the dates and locations of these meetings across Wales in the coming weeks.

FUW Continues Dog Attack Campaign with Gate-Post Warning Signs

Dog attacks on livestock in the countryside remain a major concern for farmers across Wales and to continue to help the industry raise awareness of the problems arising from irresponsible dog ownership, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has produced free gate-post warning signs for members.

The signs are part of the FUW’s campaign “Your Dog, Your Responsibility,” which aims, not only to highlight the devastation caused by dog attacks on livestock, but also the serious diseases that can be spread from dogs to cattle.

The impact of a dog attack on a farming family can be devastating. Alongside causing horrific injuries, one dog attack can cost thousands of pounds in lost stock, veterinary bills and reduced growth rates. In today’s market place with ever tighter margins, these additional costs have serious financial implications for the future solvency of the farm business. 

There were 449 cases of livestock attacks between 2013 and 2017 in North Wales alone.

FUW have therefore launched farm-gate warning signs to provide members with a practical way to remind those walking dogs near livestock about their responsibilities and about the potential dangers.

FUW members can pick up signs directly from any of the FUW’s 11 county offices across Wales.

Contact

Tel: 01970 820820

Email: post@fuw.org.uk

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