Agricultural Policy

Consultations Pending

i) Welsh Government Clean Air Plan For Wales

The aim of the Clean Air Plan for Wales is to improve air quality and ‘reduce the burden of poor air quality on human health, biodiversity and the natural environment in Wales’.

The plan uses themes to address areas of impact where future action is required. These themes include improving air quality to:
Protect the health and well-being of current and future generations
Support our natural environment, ecosystems and biodiversity
Support a prosperous Wales
Support a sustainable place

Please follow click here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 10 March 2020.

 

ii) Welsh Government Changes to Planning and Related Applications Fees

This Welsh Government consultation proposes to retain the current planning fee structure as set out in the 2015 regulations in the short-term and increase all planning fees by around 20%. In addition, to support Local Planning Authorities when determining applications for certificates of appropriate alternative development, they propose to introduce a fee of £230 per application.

In the longer term, Welsh Government aims to consider whether there is a need to reform the method of charging planning fees for supporting the cost recovery process.

Please follow click here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 13 March 2020.

 

iii) Welsh Government Beyond Recycling - Circular Economy Strategy

Welsh Government is aiming to move towards a circular economy in Wales whereby waste is avoided, as much as possible is recycled and products stay in use for longer. From 1997 to 2017, Wales has transformed from a nation which recycled less than 5% of its municipal waste, to become an international leader that recycles 63%. Likewise, greenhouse gas emissions from waste reduced by 60% between 2001 and 2017.

The consultation looks to produce a strategy that will make Wales:

  • A world leader in recycling
  • Phase out single use plastic
  • Invest in clean technology for materials collection by introducing zero emission vehicles
  • Make more efficient use of our food working with businesses from farm to fork
  • Priorities the purchasing of wood, re-manufactured and recycled content
  • Enable communities to take collective action
  • Support all businesses in Wales to reduce their carbon footprint and become more resource efficient
  • And take full responsibility for our waste

Please follow click here to view the consultation document and associated documents which summarise the strategy. Deadline for responses is 3 April 2020.

Farming in Wales is Solution to Climate Change says FUW


Farming in Wales has a big part to play in addressing the climate change crisis and farmers are geared up to do just that, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has said.

But addressing the key findings in the latest ‘Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK’ by the Committee on Climate change, the union warned of the dangers of focusing on livestock production or inappropriate tree planting.

The report highlights some critical issues, including the need for a strong UK food production sector and the dangers of delivering UK emissions reductions at the expense of increasing our reliance on food imported from countries with far greater carbon footprints. Agriculture is currently responsible for around 10 percent of UK emissions, with methane from livestock production making up just over half of this figure. By comparison, transport and energy make up around a half of all UK emissions.

This means that if we stopped producing food completely in the UK, 90 percent of the problem would still be there. Indeed, the Committee recognised that switching away from Welsh and UK produced red meat would increase the nation’s carbon footprint because we have some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of meat reared anywhere in the world.

Direct Payments To Farmers Bill Introduced To House of Commons

The Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on the 9th of January to ensure farmers participating in the Basic Payment Scheme in 2020 can be paid as normal from the beginning of December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement effectively means the UK remains subject to the bulk of EU schemes and rules during the 11 month transition period, because BPS payments made from the beginning of December onwards would normally come from the following year's EU budget (these budgetary years are calendar years). However, this facility was excluded from the Withdrawal Agreement since the UK Government did not want to draw money from the 2021 EU budget in order to make BPS payments in December 2020 as this would mean becoming a contributor to the next (2021-2027) EU budget without being a Member State.

As such, the Bill allows BPS payments to come from domestic UK funds and is in a sense a housekeeping exercise. However, the FUW has queried whether it requires funding to be paid to farmers or whether devolved nations, for example, could divert the funds to other areas of spending (which the EU Regulations does not allow).

Cattle Slaughter Numbers Due To Bovine TB Are Unsustainable

The latest data relating to bovine TB in Wales has revealed an alarming and unsustainable number of cattle slaughtered due to this disease. According to recent data, the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales in the 12 months to October 2019 was 12,742.

Indeed, whilst the most recent data reveals a 12 percent fall in New Herd Incidents in the 12 months to October 2019, the number of cattle slaughtered over the same period was 24 percent higher than the previous year.

Although the data from TB Dashboard shows improvement in some areas, the number of cattle slaughtered remains unsustainably high. Just 917 cattle were culled in 1996 due to this disease and it is a sad and disturbing fact that the Welsh cattle sector has now become somewhat used to cattle slaughterings reaching many thousands each year.

Losing TB-free status is devastating to farming families and their businesses. The loss of precious stock and the restrictions on a farm business can be incredibly destructive and it is extremely distressing for our members who have worked hard to gain TB-free status, only to lose it again in the subsequent years.

A TB breakdown is not only financially crippling for the farm, but also impacts more widely as struggling farm businesses are less able to contribute to both the local economy and further afield.

High sensitivity testing, such as gamma testing and the removal of inconclusive reactors at severe interpretation, is blamed for some of this rise. However, this will be of little comfort to FUW members, many of whom have seen a huge number of cattle removed from their farm.

Despite a wealth of evidence on the important contribution of wildlife control to TB eradication in some places, the current TB programme continues to focus almost entirely on cattle controls. The FUW has continued to reiterate members concerns regarding the implementation of measures such as high sensitivity testing, without significant measures to tackle the disease in wildlife.

The number of cattle herds registered in Wales has declined by 43 per cent since 1996. Bovine TB is one of the most serious issues facing Welsh cattle farmers and a more holistic approach, which seriously tackles the wildlife reservoir, is required urgently.

 

FUW Concerned Following National Trust Plans To Plant Trees

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has expressed concerns regarding the possible implications for FUW members who are tenants of the National Trust, following their announcement to plant more trees.

On January 9th, the General Director of the National Trust announced plans to grow 20 million trees over the next decade by either planting saplings or removing livestock to allow self-seeding. This means that many farm business tenancy agreements could be altered as they come up for renewal in order to cut sheep and cattle numbers.

To achieve this, the Trust is hoping to spend around £90 million to create 18,000 hectares of woodland in total; increasing the proportion of Trust land that is forest from 10 percent to 17 percent by 2030. However, it is important to remember that, within the past century, the area of woodland in Wales increased threefold; from 5 percent in 1919 to around 15 percent in 2016, with mainly deciduous farm woodlands making up 30 percent of the area.

Agriculture is responsible for just 10 percent of UK greenhouse gas emissions whilst UK beef and lamb carbon emissions are 35 percent below the current global average. Transport is the third highest polluter and the Trust should therefore be looking at public transport options for their 25 million or so annual visitors.

The FUW is fully supportive of appropriate tree planting where it does not undermine farm productivity or the environment. However, the removal of agriculture has been directly associated with habitat and species loss. The charity ‘Plantlife’ have stated that more than half of all wild plants need regular management or disturbance to thrive - around 40 percent of species will decline within a decade if the land on which they grow is abandoned.

The FUW has written to the Trust highlighting such concerns and to ask them to clarify their plans.

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