Agricultural Policy

News in Brief

i) New UK Wide Disease Group Established

A UK wide group has been established to ‘speed up progress’ on costly endemic livestock diseases. This includes liver fluke, mastitis and lameness.

The new ‘Ruminant Health and Welfare’ group will begin on the 1st of April 2020 and the FUW has a place on the group.


ii) PGI Lamb Exports to the Middle East Sees Major Boost Says HCC

According to HCC, HMRC trade figures for January to October 2019 show an increase of 608 percent in the exports of lamb from the UK to the Middle East compared to the same 10 month period in 2018.

However the sheep meat trade to this region was still only estimated to be worth around £2 million during the 10 month period and the EU therefore remains the staple destination for the majority of Welsh lamb exports.


iii) Welsh Government Supports The Expansion Of KK Fine Foods

The Welsh Government has provided £550,000 via the Welsh Government Economy Futures Fund to aid a £5.5 million expansion of KK Fine Foods which is based in Deeside, North Wales.

KK Fine foods currently employs 525 people and specialises in supplying food produce to the pub and restaurant sectors.

 

We Are Positively Fighting The Drip-Feed of Negativity

January has been a busy month for the Union - both politically and also in terms of managing the reputation of the industry.

To address the drip-feed of negativity surrounding red meat and dairy consumption, the FUW have been running a social media campaign (Twitter & Facebook) highlighting the positive story we have to tell. This social media campaign is run in conjunction with HCC and has a focus on sustainable farming. The Union also meets with the AHDB led group ‘Owning our Reputation’ to continue to evaluate the situation.

An agreement was reached with all industry stakeholders that we will continue the positive engagement and promotion of our industry throughout 2020 and beyond. The FUW is working hard to address negative anti-farming sentiment and we are prepared to fight it. As a result, the Union has already started a 12 month and beyond campaign of reputation enhancement.

This reputational enhancement campaign will remind the public of who and what we are and should cement in their minds the true benefits of not only buying Welsh produce but of the true health benefits that come from that decision. Of course this campaign will also focus on the incredibly positive contribution that Welsh farms - and family farms in particular - play in dealing with the challenges of climate change and the maintenance of our beautiful country.

Amongst the negativity, it is important to remember that vegans make up just 0.6% of the population and we believe that the shine of their campaign is slowly wearing off. The response to the George Monbiot ‘Apocalypse Cow’ programme on Channel 4 has been mixed. Indeed, reaction on Twitter was varied; with many of the scientific assertions and facts around farming questioned by the audience.

On that note, it is worth highlighting that the FUW has written to the Chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, in response to Channel 4 broadcasting "How to Steal Pigs and Influence People" on the 14th January 2020. The FUW made it clear that by broadcasting the content of that programme the channel may have committed, and encouraged others to commit, criminal offences.

As a matter of principle the FUW does not normally use ‘v words’ in public and it is an internal policy to not comment directly about ‘v’ related items as that only provides the oxygen of publicity to their already weak arguments. Instead, the Union will continue to promote the healthiest, the safest, the tastiest, the greenest and the best. We will talk of food producers, animal welfare experts, carbon storers, flood preventers and so on. We will continue to talk about Welsh family farms who demonstrate day after day that farming matters to us all in so many ways.

 

 

Changes To Inconclusive TB Reactor Testing Policy


The Welsh Government has introduced a change to the Inconclusive Reactor (IR) policy in persistent TB breakdowns (those lasting for 18 months duration or longer). The change came into effect on the 1st January 2020.

Policy Summary

Under the policy, IRs at standard interpretation will be slaughtered with compensation. Severe IRs will be tested with both a parallel Interferon-gamma test (the “gamma test”) and an IDEXX Antibody test (the “antibody test”). Any test positive animals will be slaughtered with compensation. The policy will be in place fully by February 2020.

Sheep Scab Eradication in Wales: Where Are We Now?

In January 2019, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, announced a 5.1 million pound fund for the eradication of sheep scab in Wales. The funds for the project come from the Rural Development Programme.

Prior to the announcement, the FUW and other industry bodies had submitted a paper to the Welsh Government outlining an industry endorsed programme for the eradication of sheep scab. This project was costed at around 8.6 million pounds over 3 years. The priority for funding expenditure in this report was for testing for the disease and for contiguous and co-ordinated treatment where the disease is confirmed on a farm.

The difference in funding has been examined by the FUW and others and we have repeated our funding priorities to the Welsh Government.

In August 2019, the tender for the sheep scab project was released on ‘Sell to Wales’ for expressions of interest. The final programme will depend on how the budget is spent by the winning tender.

An application has been invited by Welsh Government and is due to be submitted in February 2020. Following submission, the Welsh Government then has 90 days to make a final decision.

The timelines involved in the process make it very unlikely that a sheep scab programme will start before September 2020. The FUW has made its priorities known to those involved in the tender process and we will be writing to Welsh Government to ask them to expedite their section of the process in order to ensure that funding is released as soon as possible.

 

FUW Supports Announcement of Glastir Entry and Advanced Support Scheme

All Glastir Entry and Advanced scheme members should have received a message through RPW on the 20th of January 2020 informing them of the Glastir support scheme.

The scheme, offered as a loan facility, will operate in the same way as the BPS Support Scheme and will assist those who don’t receive their Glastir payments early in the payment window.

It is an ‘opt-in’ scheme and the application form, which is available through RPW, will close on the 14th of February 2020. Those who don’t receive their Glastir payment early in the payment window should expect payments through the support scheme to be made during the week commencing 24 February.

The support scheme will pay a loan of 50% of an individual farm business’ anticipated Glastir Entry or Advanced 2019 claim value. This payment will then be deducted from the farm business’ full Glastir Entry or Advanced 2019 claim once it is processed.

A farm business may not be eligible for the support scheme payment if the business has an outstanding Grant of Probate or if penalties applied to the Glastir Entry or Advanced claim will not be covered by the Glastir Entry or Advanced balance payment.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales requested such a scheme more than 12 months ago and is therefore supportive of this loan facility. The FUW urges all members who are part of these Glastir schemes to register for this support scheme in the event of not receiving your payment early in the payment window.

For any help or questions, please contact your local County office or read the Glastir scheme booklet.

 

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