Agricultural Policy

Sustainable Farming Scheme Outline Proposals ‘on the right track’ says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says the latest Welsh Government Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals are ‘on the right track’ but that numerous concerns exist around some of the details.

The ‘Sustainable Farming Scheme Outline Proposals for 2025’ document, published by the Welsh Government on 6th July, will form the basis of future discussions about the scheme that is set to replace Wales’ Basic Payment and Glastir schemes from 2025.

The FUW welcomes those areas of the proposals that have changed to reflect the concerns the Union highlighted in response to previous proposals.

FUW calls on UK Governments to tackle five key areas to provide relief for consumers and tackle food and energy security

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has launched a ‘five point plan’ for UK Governments which it believes should be implemented to tackle the impacts of the Ukraine war and other factors on farmers, food producers and consumers.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has exacerbated ongoing impacts caused by the pandemic and Brexit, causing major economic pressures for consumers and businesses and a global food emergency.

Many of the global influences currently impacting producers and consumers will be outside the control of UK Governments, but there is nevertheless scope for significant actions that genuinely take farmers’ long term interests into consideration while also helping in the short term.

UK-NZ trade deal more than 40 times worse for UK sheep industry than EU-NZ deal

The increase in New Zealand’s import quota for sheep meat in year one of new trade agreements signed by the UK and EU is more than forty times higher per head of population in the UK compared with the European Union, demonstrating the failure of the UK Government to protect UK agriculture in trade negotiations, says the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW).

An EU-New Zealand  trade deal recently agreed in principle would allow an additional 5,429 tonnes of sheep meat to be imported duty-free into the EU in year one of the agreement, whilst the equivalent figure for the UK in the deal announced in February this year is 35,000 tonnes.

The UK increase in duty free quota for New Zealand sheep meat would be almost six and a half times higher in year one than what has been negotiated by the EU.

FUW Drafts Plans for TB Industry Groups Following Ministerial Statement

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has repeated its call for the establishment of an industry Task and Finish Group to examine both Informed Purchasing and the future of TB Cattle Compensation payments following the publication of the Minister for Rural Affairs' statement on the TB eradication programme.

Amongst the new TB plans outlined in the statement are policies which could see the use of lay testers for TB testing, the provision of mandatory TB information at point-of-sale and significant changes to the way in which TB compensation is paid.

The FUW is pleased that many of the concerns raised in its 27 page response to the Refreshed TB Eradication Programme have been heard by the Welsh Government. The Union has repeatedly and consistently called for industry to be involved in the future of both TB compensation and Informed Purchasing policy and therefore the Minister’s statement that there will be further discussion with industry on these important issues is welcomed.

News in brief July 2022

i) ECA says that some EU agricultural spending schemes exposed to fraud risks

A recent audit report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) says that some EU agricultural spending schemes are exposed to fraud risks due to incorrect interpretations of the rules.

The main risks identified are linked to illegal ‘land grabbing’ in countries with weak land registration schemes and unclear ownership. Fraudsters may also seek to acquire land for the sole purpose of receiving payments without performing any agricultural activities.

The Commission has accepted all of the ECA’s recommendations.

ii) Welsh food and drink exports reach record high in 2021

Welsh food and drink exports reached a record high of £641 million in 2021, rising by 16% year on year, the largest increase across the four UK nations.

The highest value category was meat and meat products at £187 million, with eight of the top ten destinations for all Welsh food and drink exports being within the EU.

iii) Laca warns of reductions of meat in school diets due to price increases

Laca, the UK’s school food caterers’ association with members which provide 80% of school meals in England and Wales, has said that fresh meat has been removed from a number of school menus due to rising prices.

The average school is now facing a 20% rise in food costs compared with figures from April 2022.