New team at the helm for FUW Gwent and Glamorgan

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has appointed a new County Executive Officer and Deputy County Executive Officer to serve the members in the the counties of Gwent and Glamorgan.

Sharon Pritchard joins the team as County Executive Officer, bringing with her a significant background in agriculture having been involved on the family farm in Talgarth, Brecon and she also has over twenty years of experience working with McCartneys in Brecon and Builth.

Helen Thomas, who has been appointed as Deputy County Executive Officer, has been a loyal and respected part of the Gwent FUW team for 14 years and has also worked with members in Glamorgan in her previous role as an administrative assistant with the Union.

Speaking about the appointments, FUW Group Managing Director Guto Bebb said: “We have made two excellent appointments to serve members in the counties of Gwent and Glamorgan. Both Sharon and Helen come with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the agriculture sector and I have no doubt that members in both counties will be well looked after by the new team.”

Snowdonia beef and sheep farming father and daughter team highlight importance of carbon audits on farm

Dylasau Uchaf, a National Trust tenant farm, is home to the Roberts family. Glyn and his daughter Beca keep a watchful eye on the land and livestock here in the Eidda valley, hidden away between the upper Conwy and the Machno. The sheep and beef farm is about 4 miles from Betws y Coed and 3 miles from Ysbyty Ifan. 

A lot has changed up here in the last 5 years, says Glyn Roberts, who takes his responsibility of producing food and looking after the land seriously. Working with Bangor University and Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) a carbon audit was carried out on the farm highlighting where the business is doing well and where there is room for improvement when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. 

Using the result of the carbon audit the family hopes to be in a better position to highlight areas of improvements and lower their carbon footprint by increasing efficiency, lowering feed cost and increasing growth rate, less days to slaughter, reduced burden of disease, reducing the use of fertilizer by knowing the farm's needs and also using less fuel, are all things that are now being taken into consideration.

Pembrokeshire dairy farming family say NVZ regulations leave no choice but to reduce herd

Pembrokeshire husband and wife team Jeff and Sarah Wheeler, who farm at Clyngwyn, Efailwen, Clynderwen, feel the current Control of Agricultural Pollution Regulations are going to make their business unviable and are asking the Welsh Government to take a hard look at what they’re asking the industry to do. The third generation to farm here, the couple milk150 cows on a spring calving system, looking after 195 acres which is down to grass land (of which 35 acres is rented), plus 50 acres of woodland. 

Under current NVZ regulations in other UK and EU Nations and previous regulations in Wales, farmers with more than 80% of their holding designated as grassland had the ability to apply for a derogation to increase the annual livestock manure Nitrate whole farm limit from 170kg N per ha to 250kg N per ha.

Despite the same option being included in Welsh Government’s draft Water Resources regulations published in 2020, it was omitted from the regulations before being laid in front of the Senedd in 2021 without any form of warning or explanation. 

Jeff says: “We’ve got enough storage for slurry but the stocking rates will hit us badly. They’ve brought in the nitrate limit, which wasn’t in the initial 'draft regulation, it came out of the blue. Any other country with such regulations has a derogation on the nitrate limit. If you're 80% down to grassland, which we are, you can keep more stock in other countries. Why is that not the case here now?”

Food production and looking after the environment goes hand in hand says North Wales farming family

A farming family from North Wales who are leading the way in looking after the environment and producing food, having recently undertaken extensive peatland restoration work on their farm in conjunction with Snowdonia National Park Authority and the Welsh Peatlands SMS project to develop the first Peatland Code project in Wales. 

The Roberts family, who have farmed at Pennant Farm, Llanymawddwy for several generations, keep beef and sheep, mainly hill ewes and some crossbreeds. A small suckler herd and crossbred ewes are also kept on the lowland and the family have diversified into holiday lets as well. There is a strong sense of responsibility when it comes to looking after the environment and creating biodiverse habitats, as well as producing food.

Taking their environmental ambitions forward, Farmers’ Union of Wales members Lisa and Sion Roberts, set in motion restoration works to re-profile and block the extensive complexes of hags and gullies across the Bwlch y Groes site, which were carried out by experienced peatland contractors at the end of the 2020 and start of 2021. 

FUW calls on MPs to act in UK nations’ interests over coming months after UK and Australia PMs sign broad terms of agreement

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has highlighted the need for Members of Parliament to do all they can to fully scrutinise and have a say on an UK-Australia trade deal, after Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday agreed the broad terms of a deal.

“We have grave concerns that we could end up with a deal that’s catastrophic for animal welfare, the environment, our family farms and our food security - and that it will be set in stone,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

Mr Roberts said that in the past few days Boris Johnson had come under significant pressure from the world’s most powerful leaders because he had ignored all the warnings about the consequences of a deal he struck with the EU - the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

Review of Control of Agricultural Pollution Regulations welcome, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the decision of the  Senedd to review the current Control of Agricultural Pollution Regulations, which are currently being phased in and are set to cost the industry millions.

A joint opposition party motion called for a Senedd committee to hold an "urgent" review of the new regulations and the call for a review was passed by 58 votes to nil on Wednesday, 9 June.

Responding to the news, FUW Vice President Dai Miles said: “We are pleased to see that a robust discussion in the Senedd has led to all Welsh Senedd members backing a review into the regulations as they currently stand.

Denbigh, Flint and Meirionnydd farmers raise Australia trade deal concerns with MPs

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Denbighshire, Flintshire and Meirionnydd have outlined their concerns and objections to the free trade agreement with Australia at a recent meeting with Clwyd West MP David Jones, Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes and Vale of Clwyd MP James Davies.

Speaking after the meeting FUW Denbigh and Flint county executive officer Mari Dafydd Jones said: “We made it very clear in our meeting with the MPs that trade deals lock the current and future governments into them, and as such need time and thorough scrutiny. 

“Under no circumstances should they be rushed, but that is what is happening here, on top of which the UK Parliament will not be able to scrutinise and have a final say on a deal in the way other democratic nations do.”

Pembrokeshire farmers raise OZ trade deal concerns with local MP

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Pembrokeshire have outlined their concerns and objections to the free trade agreement with Australia at a recent meeting with their local MP Stephen Crabb.

Speaking after the meeting FUW Pembrokeshire County Executive Officer Rebecca Voyle said: “We made it very clear in our meetings with Stephen Crabb that trade deals lock the current and future governments into them, and as such need time and thorough scrutiny. 

“Under no circumstances should they be rushed, but that is what is happening here, on top of which the UK Parliament will not be able to scrutinise and have a final say on a deal in the way other democratic nations do.”

Mrs Voyle said the FUW had therefore asked him to oppose such a trade agreement and do all that he could to ensure detailed scrutiny takes place.

Anglesey farmers raise OZ trade deal concerns with local MP and UK Minister for Trade Policy

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Anglesey have outlined their concerns and objections to the free trade agreement with Australia at a recent meeting with their local MP Virginia Crosbie and UK Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands.

Speaking after the meeting FUW Anglesey County Executive Officer Alaw Jones said: “We made it very clear in our meeting with Virginia Crosbie and Greg Hands that trade deals lock the current and future governments into them, and as such need time and thorough scrutiny. 

“Under no circumstances should they be rushed, but that is what is happening here, on top of which the UK Parliament will not be able to scrutinise and have a final say on a deal in the way other democratic nations do.”

Ms Jones said the FUW had therefore asked them to do all they can to oppose such a trade agreement and ensure detailed scrutiny takes place.

“The extreme problems we are seeing in Northern Ireland because of the protocol show what happens when politicians do not listen to stark warnings and rush things through in order to meet a self imposed timetable, but that’s exactly what’s happening with regard to the Australia deal. 

Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire farmers discuss concerns about Australia trade deal with local MP

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire have outlined their concerns and objections to the free trade agreement with Australia at a recent meeting with their local MP Simon Hart. The meeting was hosted jointly with NFU Cymru via Zoom.

Speaking after the meeting FUW Carmarthenshire county chairman Philip Jones said: “We made it very clear in our meeting with Simon Hart MP that trade deals lock the current and future governments into them, and as such need time and thorough scrutiny. 

“Under no circumstances should they be rushed, but that is what is happening here, on top of which the UK Parliament will not be able to scrutinise and have a final say on a deal in the way other democratic nations do.”

Mr Jones said the FUW had therefore asked him to do all he can to oppose such a trade agreement and ensure detailed scrutiny takes place.

Montgomeryshire farmers raise OZ trade deal concerns with local MP

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Montgomeryshire have outlined their concerns and objections to the free trade agreement with Australia at a recent meeting with their local MP Craig Williams.

Speaking after the meeting FUW Montgomeryshire county chairman Bryn Francis said: “We made it very clear in our meeting with Craig Williams MP that trade deals lock the current and future governments into them, and as such need time and thorough scrutiny. 

“Under no circumstances should they be rushed, but that is what is happening here, on top of which the UK Parliament will not be able to scrutinise and have a final say on a deal in the way other democratic nations do.”

Mr Francis said the FUW had therefore asked him to do all he can to oppose such a trade agreement and ensure detailed scrutiny takes place.

Talks over Northern Ireland Protocol highlight need for careful scrutiny of Australia deal, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales says the emergency UK-EU talks being held to try and overcome problems caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol highlight the dangers of the UK entering a trade deal with Australia without careful scrutiny.

UK Brexit minister David Frost and his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic are meeting in London today (9th June) to discuss the problems facing exports to Northern Ireland as a result of the rules agreed by the UK and EU in the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The protocol has led to shortages of certain products in the province and caused an increase in sectarian tensions, leading the UK government to threaten to further ignore the rules. In response, the EU is threatening court action and the imposition of tariffs if the UK does not meet the obligations set out in the international treaty.

FUW Policy Communications Officer Gareth Parry said: “There are growing tensions politically between the EU and UK, and there are growing tensions on the street, all because of an international agreement the UK negotiated and signed while desperate to meet a self-imposed tight deadline for leaving the EU.

“The problems are exactly what we and others warned of, and now, within months of the protocol coming into force, the UK government has realised how bad the implications are and is having emergency meetings with the EU to try and solve the problem."

Ceredigion dairy farming family highlight benefits of knowing your farmer

Knowing your farmer, being able to ask questions about their produce and how they look after the land is of paramount importance to Ceredigion dairy farming family the Thomas’s. The third generation to farm at Pantfeillionen, Horeb, Llandysul, Ceredigion, are Lyn and Lowri Thomas. Lyn has been farming since he was 16 and celebrates just over 32 years in the industry this year. The family looks after 170 acres and rents a further 100 acres, with the land down to grass. 70 dairy cows, a few sucklers and calves which get sold on as store cattle, call these green hills home. 

Farming, the couple say, has changed a lot in the last few decades and the industry has moved with the times. The way forward for the family is to maintain the small-scale ethos of the family farm and connect on a personal level with their customers who buy raw milk directly from the farm. 

Describing their farming system, Lyn says: “We do all our own silage and everything is done in house. We don’t use a lot of fertilizer, some yes, but we can’t use too much because of the nature of the ground. We’re farming on rock so that means we need to be careful otherwise our grass would burn on the south facing slopes. 

Brecon and Radnorshire farmers raise OZ trade deal concerns with local MP

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Brecon and Radnorshire have outlined their concerns and objections to the free trade agreement with Australia at a recent meeting with their local MP Fay Jones.

Speaking after the meeting FUW Brecon and Radnor county chairman Dwylan Davies said: “We made it very clear in our meeting with Fay Jones MP that trade deals lock the current and future governments into them, and as such need time and thorough scrutiny. 

Caernarfonshire & Denbighshire farmers raise OZ trade deal concerns with local MP

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Caernarfonshire and Denbighshire have outlined their concerns and objections to the free trade agreement with Australia at a recent meeting with Aberconwy MP Robin Millar.

Speaking after the meeting, which was hosted by FUW President Glyn Roberts at his home farm Dylasau Uchaf, near Betws y Coed, FUW Caernarfonshire County Executive Committee Member Dafydd Gwyndaf said: “We made it very clear in our meeting with Robin Millar MP that trade deals lock the current and future governments into them, and as such need time and thorough scrutiny.

“Under no circumstances should they be rushed, but that is what is happening here, on top of which the UK Parliament will not be able to scrutinise and have a final say on a deal in the way other democratic nations do.”

Mr Gwyndaf said the FUW had therefore asked him to do all he can to oppose such a trade agreement and ensure detailed scrutiny takes place.

FUW Anglesey AGM puts spotlight on water resources regulations and other farming matters

The Anglesey branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales is looking forward to its virtual annual general meeting, which will explore and discuss the most important issues facing the industry. Held on Thursday, 10 June at 7.30pm via Zoom, members can look forward to lively discussions around the water resources regulations, proposed trade deals and wider FUW matters.

Guest speakers on the night are FUW Ltd. Managing Director Guto Bebb and Keith Owen, Environment Consultant and Director at Kebek-Rural Environmental Services who will be discussing the implications of the new water pollution regulations and how they differ from the previous SSAFO regulations. 

Mr Owen will further discuss the dates that need to be adhered to and what facilities will fall into the new regulations. The presentation will also look at economic ways of meeting the regulations and what the implications are of an NRW/Cross Compliance inspection.

Looking after the environment and producing sustainable food - how one organic sheep farmer is doing both

Set in the Gwili valley, on the outskirts of Llanpumsaint, Carmarthenshire, is Clyttie Cochion. The 150 acre organic farm is home to Phil Jones and 350 sheep. A part time Lecturer in Gelli Aur, Phil cares deeply about educating the next generation - not just those he teaches at college but the consumers of the future who have many concerns about how food is produced.

Walking across his fields, Phil said: “Many misconceptions remain about the impact farming has on the environment and often people are confused about farming styles in other parts of the world and here at home. It’s not universally true that farmers are polluting and destroying the environment. Here on the farm we have an easy care approach to shepherding and an easy care approach to the care of the ground as well. We only take from the ground what the ground will give us and that’s not a bad thing.” 

Understanding the soil, weather patterns and topography are just as important in farming as livestock husbandry. Although this holding is classed as a lowland farm, at 350 feet, the environment is more akin to a hill landscape with desolated rush covered ground and a few sheep. This presents challenges for Phil as he wants to ensure his land and the animals flourish. To feed the sheep, which are kept outdoors all year round, good grass cover and healthy soil are essential. The rush cover makes things difficult. 

‘Guardians of the Welsh Land’ - FUW campaign highlights farmings positive impact on the environment

The increasingly negative narrative around livestock farming and its portrayed impact on the environment and climate change has led to farmers in Wales standing up to tell their stories and highlight the positive impact livestock farming has.

Through the Farmers’ Union of Wales’ campaign ‘Guardians of the Welsh Land’, farmers are addressing misleading claims by various groups about the role livestock farming plays in relation to climate change and the environment.  

Launching the campaign, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “The FUW has consistently recognised the threat represented by climate change and the need to take action. This is clear from a cursory look at our manifestos and policy documents published over the past twenty years. 

Celebrate dairy for World Milk day 2021 FUW says

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is encouraging consumers across the world to raise a glass to milk and dairy products on World Milk Day - Tuesday 1 June 2021. World Milk Day was first launched in 2001 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to celebrate and increase public awareness about the nutritional and economic importance of milk and milk products around the globe.

Speaking from his Pembrokeshire dairy farm, FUW Vice President Dai Miles said: “We are calling on everybody to celebrate and drink milk on June 1st. There are so many benefits of including milk and dairy in our lives - nutritionally, economically and environmentally.

Survey highlights digital urban-rural divide

A survey on digital connectivity has highlighted a gaping hole between urban and rural areas when it comes to access and stability of broadband and mobile phone reception. 

The survey, run by the National Federation of Women's Institutes-Wales, CLA, Farmers’ Union of Wales, NFU Cymru and Wales YFC, showed that over 50% of respondents from a rural area felt that the internet they had access to was not fast and reliable.

FUW raises Australia deal concerns with trade minister

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has highlighted an array of grave concerns regarding the impacts of a disadvantageous trade deal with Australia in a meeting with UK Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands.

Speaking after the meeting on Wednesday (19 May), FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Both the minister and I agreed wholeheartedly that it is important that we seek new trade opportunities for UK agriculture and other industries.  However, we made our concerns regarding the adverse impacts of a liberal deal with Australia very clear.”

Mr Roberts said that a host of issues were discussed during the meeting, including the potential benefits for Welsh agriculture of the UK’s membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which the UK is currently seeking.

Concerns over Australia and other trade deals ‘well founded’ says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says concerns that a trade deal struck with Australia could be severely damaging to UK farming and food production are well founded and echo worries expressed repeatedly by the union over the past five years.

The comment came after the Financial Times reported on a “ferocious” internal battle within the UK Government between the Department of International Trade and Defra over the terms of a UK-Australia trade deal that could allow food produced in Australia to be imported to the UK tariff-free.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “It’s very clear that the British public is opposed to opening the flood-gates to produce from countries where farmers do not have to comply with the high standards we have here, and we fully support those within government who are fighting such proposals.  

Tenant farmers hit brick wall over Water Resources Regulations

A tenant farming family from Montgomeryshire has hit a brick wall over the Welsh Government’s recently introduced Water Resources Regulations, with their landlord standing in the way of their ability to comply with the new regulations. Bryan Jones, his wife Susan and son Andrew, farm at Coedyparc, Caersws, Powys, a 105 acre all grassland farm which is home to a 85 strong closed dairy herd. 

The family, who have been farming here since 1973 on a lifetime tenancy agreement, are worried that with their landlord unwilling to foot the bill for the costly capital works required to be compliant with the new regulations and the banks not lending money for works carried out on tenant farms, it will spell the end of their farming lives on the holding.

Bryan Jones said: “I’ve been milking cows my entire life, starting when I was just 12 years old and will mark my 66th year of dairy farming this year. It’s what we do as a family. It’s our life. We have never had a pollution incident here. NRW through their own assessment have confirmed that there is no pollution here, but we still need to comply with these new regulations and carry out works at eye watering costs which will be in the region of £70,000. Who is going to pay for that? 

Extension to BVD screening programme welcomed by FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the news that free BVD testing for cattle farmers in Wales has been extended until 31 December 2022. The testing, which is provided through Gwaredu BVD, supports both youngstock testing and the hunt for persistently infected animals in order to help herds eliminate the disease and achieve BVD free status.

Over 8,600 of Welsh herds (80%) have been screened for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) since its launch in 2017. From the 8,600 herds already screened, approximately 2,446 (26.1%) have tested positive. The programme now aims to continue working with farmers and their vets to identify the persistently infected (PI) animals. 

FUW highlights concerns with agricultural leads from main political parties ahead of the elections

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts and Deputy President Ian Rickman have met with the agriculture leads of the main political parties in the run-up to the Welsh Senedd elections, highlighting industry concerns and the Union’s key manifesto asks.

Welcoming the opportunity to query various pledges made by the parties in their manifestos the President and Deputy President were able to emphasise the importance of the next Government committing to stability, family farms, supporting rural communities and Welsh jobs, sustainable agriculture and rewarding environmental outcomes.

The Union will hold the parties to account on their commitments to farming and work closely with the next Government to ensure future policies support thriving, sustainable family farms- for the benefit of the rural economy, the environment, food security and our unique rural culture and traditions.

“We’ll have to get rid of our cattle” say Glamorgan beef and sheep farming family in response to draconian NVZ regulations

Glamorgan beef and sheep farmers Richard Walker and his partner Rachel Edwards run Flaxland Farm - a 120 acre beef and sheep holding just outside of Barry, Glamorgan. The couple say they will have to give up keeping cattle if current Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations are not adjusted to incorporate recommendations made by industry stakeholder groups. 

Richard and Rachel keep 35 breeding cows and 130 breeding ewes and are at the end of their tether.

“We’ve had a session with Farming Connect to see what we need to be doing, and it didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know, apart from that we have enough ground to cope with how much slurry we produce. So we wouldn’t have to export. But we would have to cover one of the existing yards, which is an awkward shape, plus cover where we scrape slurry to, and also put in a slurry store. Which we don’t have at the moment,” said Rachel Edwards. 

COVID-19 - Important Information for our members and customers

 

In view of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve taken the decision to help protect members, customers and colleagues by closing all FUW offices.

All staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, meaning our team will be continuing with exactly the same service but over the phone/email/skype or other means of remote communication instead. 

Members and customers should continue to contact us as they would, as all our team can be contacted via the usual phone numbers. 

We will be making sure that our service levels are maintained. SAF/IACS appointments will carry on as normal but will be conducted over the phone. 

Contact details for your local office can be found here: https://www.fuw.org.uk/en/contact-us 

 

Important links relating to the Coronavirus:


The TB Hub have prepared a list of FAQs regarding how TB procedures will be affected by the virus: https://tbhub.co.uk/statutory-tb-testing-of-cattle-in-gb-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Red Tractor Updated Covid-19 position here: https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/contentfiles/Farmers-7085.pdf?_=637206600290507095

Livestock Auctioneers Association LAA - 25/03/2020: https://www.laa.co.uk/news/3989/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-to-members-and-farmers/

Business Wales (including details of coronavirus support for businesses): https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) available through participating lenders: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) guidance on Coronavirus: https://www.naac.co.uk/coronavirus-guidance-issued-to-contractors/

National Milk Recording services 24/03/2020: https://www.nmr.co.uk/about-us/coronavirus

Senedd Research Blog: https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support/