Agricultural Policy

FUW urges members to take advantage of free sheep scab testing

The FUW has cautiously welcomed news that the examination of skin scrape samples from sheep showing suspect clinical signs of sheep scab is being offered free of charge in Wales by the APHA and funded by Welsh Government until 31 March 2021.

The scheme will aid accurate diagnosis, which is a prerequisite for appropriate treatment and successful control of sheep scab, a priority of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework.

Furthermore, the scheme will also encourage sheep farmers to work with their veterinary surgeon to protect their flocks from sheep scab. As well as accurate diagnosis for controlling the disease if it occurs, good flock biosecurity is essential to keep it out.

It is extremely disappointing that the industry endorsed programme for the eradication of sheep scab, which was set to receive £5.1 million as part of the Rural Development Programme last year, has been thrown into the long grass, despite Welsh Government recently allocating £106 million to a number of other ‘priority’ projects.

The FUW has made it clear to Minister Lesley Griffiths that whilst this new approach addresses a small part of the issue - the testing element - it needs to be complemented with contiguous testing and co-ordinated treatment where the disease is confirmed on a farm, as was proposed by the industry-led Sheep Scab Eradication Group.

Nevertheless, the FUW is urging members to take advantage of this free testing.

New Zealand expresses concerns over future sheep meat quotas

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) of New Zealand has expressed concerns over decisions to split its sheep meat quota between the UK and European Union (EU) after the end of the Brexit transition period.

New Zealand exporters are preparing for trade disruption in the form of delays and new processes as the likelihood of a no-deal between the UK and EU is becoming evermore greater.

The UK and EU have agreed to unilaterally halve New Zealand’s sheep meat quota of 228,000 tonnes between the two markets. Despite higher exports of sheep meat into the UK in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand has rarely filled that quota and therefore trade should not be significantly affected.

However as part of this agreement, the UK share of NZ beef quota will total around 450 tonnes, a ‘commercially unviable’ and therefore useless allocation according to MIA Chief Executive Sirma Karapeeva, given that any exports over the quota will face a 12% tariff.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade say that it is seeking a continuation of current access to both markets from the beginning of 2021 as the current plans remove the flexibility for exporters to adapt to demand.

On a similar vein, second round of negotiations for a UK - NZ free trade agreement have been completed and the third round is planned for late January 2021, notably after the end of the Brexit transition period.

All Wales prevention zone has been declared to protect poultry from Avian Flu

Welsh Government introduced a precautionary all Wales Avian Influenza prevention zone on 11 November in order to mitigate the risk of infection following recent cases in England.

Since cases of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 have been identified in domestic and wild birds in England, the risk level for disease in wild birds is now high and the risk of direct and indirect transmission to poultry has increased to medium.

The prevention zone requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to take appropriate and practicable steps to comply with mandatory enhanced biosecurity measures including:

  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
  • Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimise movement of people in and out of bird enclosures;
  • Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas.

DAFM propose plans for stricter TB tests in high-risk herds in Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has outlined plans to implement mandatory TB testing for cattle, 30 days before moving out of herds with a high risk of TB, in its draft ‘Ten Year Roadmap to Reduce bTB and Drive Towards Eradication 2020-2030’.

The plan suggests that herds with a history of several breakdowns are at a higher risk of recurrence after testing clear, and that DAFM will provide enhanced support to these affected herds including a tailored TB risk management plan for each herd individually.

Cattle that come back with an inconclusive skin test will receive a blood test shortly after and if it is clear, blood testing will continue at regular intervals while the animal(s) remains in the herd.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) agrees that there is a need for enhanced support for herds with a higher risk of TB however, has stated that it will not agree to any of these proposals until all outstanding issues surrounding TB compensation and wildlife measures are dealt with first.

The DAFM will be holding meetings with the Stakeholders on the TB Forum to discuss the draft strategy.

DPJ Foundation calling for all knitters

The DPJ Foundation has launched its ‘knit a bobble for that wobble’ campaign aimed towards raising awareness and funds for supporting mental health in the Welsh farming community.

Knitting is proven to provide positive physical and mental health benefits including lower blood pressure and reduced depression. The aim is to collect 100 knitted bobble hats before the end of the Winter which will then have a DPJ Foundation label sewn on and be sold to raise funds for the charity.

You can follow this link for a tutorial if you have never knitted before.

Please send your completed hat(s) to the DPJ Foundation office at: Ground Floor Rear Office, 5 Dark Street, Haverfordwest, SA61 2DS.

For more information, please contact Kate Miles, Charity Manager on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07984 169652.

 

 

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/