Agricultural Policy

FUW President to sit on the new UK Government Trade and Agriculture Commission

The President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), Glyn Roberts, will represent the interests of Wales’ farmers in the new UK Government Trade and Agriculture Commission alongside 15 other industry members.

The commission has been set up to advise the UK Government on negotiating future trade deals which do not compromise on our world-leading animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards. Protecting domestic producers against sub- standard imports, as well as identifying new export opportunities for UK produce, is a long-standing FUW position.

Although the FUW welcomes an additional opportunity to lobby UK Government, it should be noted that the Commission will be required to produce an advisory paper to be presented to Parliament at the end of the six month fixed term. The timelines involved in current trade deals may mean that some agreements may have been reached prior to the provision of the advisory paper. In addition, there is currently no guarantee that the UK Government will act on the recommendations put forward by the Commission.

Report on Rural Development Programme highlights long-standing FUW concerns

A report entitled ‘Ensuring Value for Money from Rural Development Grants Made Without Competition’ published by Audit Wales on June 30 has exposed the long-standing concerns of the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) regarding RDP expenditure and accountability.

In 2013, it was announced that the Welsh Government would use the maximum pillar transfer rate of 15% from Pillar 1 direct farm payments into the Pillar 2 Rural Development Programme (RDP). This 15% transfer rate equates to around an additional 40 million pounds a year to the RDP and was higher than the transfer rate chosen by most other European countries.

In response to opposition from the agricultural industry towards the maximum transfer rate, the Welsh agricultural industry was assured that the RDP would deliver transformational change for the sector. However, the FUW was extremely concerned at the decision to scrap a dedicated RDP Monitoring Committee and bring the responsibility under a single EU Programme Monitoring Committee as this would undermine the scrutiny and monitoring of the Welsh RDP expenditure.

The Audit Wales report on the RDP contains many of the FUW’s concerns and states that key aspects of the design, operation and oversight of the Welsh Government’s Rural Development fund were not effective enough to ensure the £53 million of grant awards would deliver value for money. In addition, the report states that the Welsh Government had adopted an approach of granting funds without competition and, in some cases, without taking any alternative steps to ensure the projects would deliver value for money.

FUW Discusses Race to Zero with UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion

Both Wales' Farming Unions - the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) and NFU Cymru - held a successful joint virtual roundtable meeting with the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, Nigel Topping.

In addition to wider discussions around climate change, the roundtable event provided a platform to discuss the international ‘Race to Zero’ campaign. This campaign for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery was launched on World Environment Day, and will run up to the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2020.

‘Race to Zero’ examines how each and every sector can contribute to a zero carbon recovery and agriculture is considered as part of the discussion but equally - and potentially more so - the solution.

Like every other industry, farmers must work to mitigate climate change but we must do so through innovation and by removing obstacles in ways which preserve and enhance family farming businesses and do not work in opposition to them.

 

FUW highlights importance of maintaining food standards with Retailers

The importance of our domestic food supply system has been brought into sharp focus during the Covid-19 pandemic; including the important role played by retailers and supermarkets.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) wrote to all major supermarkets during the early stages of the pandemic - at a time when empty shelves simply demonstrated the importance of food security and resilience - requesting for them to do all they could to maintain farmgate prices following the closure of the foodservice sector and consequently the loss in demand for many agricultural products.

The agricultural sector now faces a period of uncertainty and, as the UK Agricultural Bill progresses through the House of Lords, the FUW continues to lobby for Clause 2 to be introduced into the Bill in order to protect our home producers from sub-standard food imports.

The FUW continues to liaise with supermarkets on this issue and has recently written to all major supermarkets highlighting the importance of maintaining our world-leading food standards post-Brexit and and asking them to continue to support British producers by committing to not selling - not only chlorinated chicken or hormone-injected beef - but any food products produced to lower animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards than those adhered to by domestic producers.

FUW welcomes extension to free BVD testing in Wales

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the news that free BVD testing for cattle farmers in Wales has been extended until 31 March 2021. 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.

More than 8,300 herds in Wales are now part of the programme and financial support is available to hunt PIs until the end of 2022.

The FUW, along with other industry bodies, continues to work towards those measures which will help Wales eliminate BVD. This extension allows more time for cattle herds to engage in this free testing programme in order to ensure that they have prepared their herds for the possibility of BVD legislation next year.

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/