Agricultural Policy

Farming Provides an Answer to Climate Change and Food Crisis says FUW

The FUW recently met with the Welsh Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles AM, to reiterate the Union’s long-standing position that food production and caring for the environment can, and do, go hand in hand. 
 
At present, around 40% of the food that is being consumed in this country is imported and a fifth of the fresh foods imported come from areas that are threatened with climate chaos.
 
The FUW believes that farmers here in Wales are the answer to that problem. Welsh farmers support local livestock markets, maintain the local rural economy, support local jobs, are custodians of the environment and produce healthy, safe and traceable food. 

The UK has a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, yet our food system is vulnerable and dominated by complex global supply chains.  Our farmers have the knowledge, skill, and willingness to produce sustainable food, that works in harmony with the environment but this could be hindered by over zealous policies which do not recognise or value the fact that food production and environmental protection can operate side by side.
 
In order to safeguard the environment and protect domestic food security, the FUW believes that there is merit in food that has been produced locally; food that has been produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. 

By supporting countries who produce food to standards that would be illegal in this country, there is a danger of displacing adverse climate impacts to other countries whilst simultaneously over-regulating and hindering our domestic producers and reducing domestic food production.

The environmental audit committee has only recently called on the UK Government to set out a clear plan for how the UK’s food supplies could be protected from climate emergency and explain how food might be affected by Brexit, as well as asking Ministers to ensure that food provided by the Government is “sustainable by default”. 

Welsh producers continue to look for ways to positively contribute to nature, exploring ways to be cleaner and greener, but they need to be allowed to do their job. 
 

Mid Wales Rewilding Plans Meet Challenges

In response to rising concerns over proposals contained in Rewilding Britain’s ‘Summit to Sea’ project, the project boundary of which includes around 155,000 acres of land in Ceredigion and Montgomeryshire, an open meeting was held in late July to discuss the project plans.

The 160 or so people who attended expressed major worries regarding the fact that the project was instigated and is effectively run by Rewilding Britain - a charity which wants to rewild a quarter of the UK.  It was felt that the objectives of the organisation were in direct conflict with agriculture, particularly in the uplands, as well as being damaging for conservation and species which rely on sustainable agriculture.

It was also noted that considerable damage was being caused to relationships between local and agricultural communities and Summit to Sea ‘partner’ organisations such as the RSPB and the Woodland Trust - bodies which often share a great deal of common ground and common objectives with rural communities in relation to conservation.

In light of these concerns, those present voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion that Rewilding Britain should not be involved in any project in the area.

Those present also voted overwhelmingly to establish a committee comprising representation from all the communities encompassed by the Summit to Sea project area boundary in order to fight against the project in its current form.

In recent months, Natural Resources Wales and the Waterloo Foundation, both of which were originally listed as partners in the Summit to Sea project by Rewilding Britain, have confirmed that they are not in fact partners, and in September Machynlleth-based company Ecodyfi withdrew its support, saying: "The project reflects the partners' focus on the environment, and pays much less attention to the cultural, linguistic, social and economic aspects of sustainable development, which are fundamental to the whole community."

 
 
 

New Brexit proposal still leaves Wales ‘out in the cold’ says FUW

 

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says the UK Government’s new proposals to solve the Northern Irish impasse would still leave Wales and Welsh farmers ‘out in the cold’ - even if the EU accepted the offer.
 
Even if the EU accepts the offer in spite of the Good Friday agreement, it makes no difference to the FUW’s core concerns regarding the impact on Welsh agriculture and the Welsh economy.  The Union remains clear in its view that the UK as a whole should remain within both the Single Market and Customs Union in order to minimise severe economic impacts.
 
Trying to address valid Northern Irish concerns should not be perceived as a ‘new deal’ for the UK as a whole.   Indeed, this does nothing to stop the worries inherent in the original Withdrawal Deal, which would in any case only apply for a very short period.  Nor would it make any difference to the vague and open-ended Political Declaration which relates to how Wales and the UK would trade with the EU in the long term.
 
The FUW believes that the most sensible option would be for the whole of the UK to stay within the single market and the customs union.
 
Since January the FUW has advocated withdrawing Article 50 in order to return to a sensible negotiation timetable and put the ball back in our court so we can negotiate a sensible Brexit deal.
 
But there is also the option the Union has advocated since the June 2016 Referendum, which is supported by the EU, which is to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union to minimise what even the Government’s own analyses say would be severe economic impacts.  This would respect the referendum outcome while preventing damage to our economy and rural communities.

 
 

Consultations Pending

i) Welsh Government - Our Ambition to Further Develop Wales’ Food and Drink Sector

Welsh Government are seeking responses to the Welsh Government and the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board’s joint proposals for a strategic plan to further advance the food and drink sector in Wales for the period 2020-2026.

For further information please follow click here.  The consultation closes on the 15th October 2019.

ii) Food Standards Agency - Home Slaughter of Livestock Guidance

The Food Standards Agency have updated the Home Slaughter of Livestock guidance for England and Wales to reflect the changes to regulations.

Under the revised Animal Welfare Regulations, the home killing of an animal and any related operations shall only be carried out by persons with the appropriate level of competence to do so without causing the animals any pain, distress or suffering; on behalf of the owner, at the owner’s property, for domestic consumption.

For further information please follow click here.  The consultation closes on the 28th October 2019.


iii) Sustainable Farming and our Land
The Welsh Government has announced the launch of a second consultation on the future of farm payments in Wales which follows on from the 2018 ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation.

See here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 30th October 2019.

iv) Animal Exhibits
Animal Exhibits (AEs) are diverse and there is no current licensing regime or requirements for routine inspections, therefore animal welfare standards are not guaranteed. In addition, the Performing Animals Act 1925 requires performing animals to be registered with Local Authorities which currently have no end date, nor does the Act define what is meant by a ‘performing animal’.

Following a 2017 consultation, the decision was made in April 2019 to include all AEs which meet a given criteria. Lesley Griffiths, Minister, also laid out a proposed Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly in July 2019 which proposes to make it an offence for a wild animal to be used in a travelling circus.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Animal Exhibits) (Wales) Regulations 2020 will introduce a requirement for AEs which meet a given criteria to be licensed by their Local Authority. The scheme will provide for checks to be made to ensure good welfare standards are maintained and that animals are exhibited in a way that encourages respectful and responsible attitudes towards all species.

The consultation outlines that (a) Keeping animals primarily for dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping and (c) Keeping or training animals for sporting purposes would be exempt from requiring a licence (as well as other categories).

Please follow click here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 21st November 2019.

(v) Ageing Of Sheep At Slaughter
Welsh Government, DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are seeking views on the proposal to change English and Welsh legislation for ageing sheep at slaughter for the removal of certain body parts.

Currently, Specified Risk Material (SRM) is removed from sheep over 12 months of age as declared through dentition (checking teeth) for preventing Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) in the interest of public health.

Instead, the consultation proposes an (optional) alternative method for the ageing of sheep at slaughter:  Sheep born in the previous calendar year and submitted for slaughter in the calendar year following their birth after an annual cut-off date of 30 June must be considered as aged over 12 months and therefore would require the removal of the spinal cord as SRM.  Sheep born in the previous calendar year and submitted for slaughter in the calendar year following their birth before an annual cut-off date of 30 June would be considered as aged under 12 months and would not require removal of the spinal cord as SRM.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have confirmed that this approach would not compromise existing food safety.  It is proposed that the new approach would allow farmers to adjust their flock management and minimize the splitting of lambs aged under 12 months.  It is estimated that this could result in indirect savings of up to £24 million a year for the industry.

Please follow click here for the consultation document.  Responses by 31st October 2019.

Farming Connect November Skills and Training Application Window

The next skills funding application window is now open for up to 80% subsidised training and will close on Friday 1st November 2019.  There are 3 steps to applying:
1) Register with Farming Connect before 28th October to gain access to the Business Wales website.
2) Complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) on the Business Wales website to help identify which courses are available and most suitable for improving your skills.  Completing a PDP and submitting an application form is mandatory. There will be events and workshops throughout Wales to help with the process.
3) Apply for the desired training course(s) during the application window.  The applications will be assessed at the end of the application window and applicants will be notified by email.  You must then complete the course(s) within 9 months.


Click here for more information on the courses available and PDP workshop dates.

Contact

Farmers' Union of Wales
Llys Amaeth
Plas Gogerddan
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion
SY23 3BT

01970 820820
post@fuw.org.uk

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