Agricultural Policy

FREE Brexit Business Readiness Events Across The UK

As things stand, it is likely that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October 2019 with or without a deal.
 
To help businesses prepare for the possible implications of Brexit, the UK Government is hosting 30 Brexit Business Readiness Events across the UK from 16 September to 18 October.
 
Experts from departments such as HMRC and DEFRA will provide free interactive support and advice sessions to up to 100 businesses at each event with the aim of ensuring that as many businesses are preparing for Brexit as possible.

For more information regarding the events and to register, please follow click here.

Events have been confirmed in Cardiff (14th October), Wrexham (15th October) and Bristol (15th October) with many more confirmed across the UK and even more locations to be confirmed.

FUW Opposes Pan-Wales 2020 Agricultural Pollution Regulations

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has reiterated its opposition to the establishment of pan-Wales agricultural pollution regulations which, if implemented, will cause significant financial and administrative burdens for farmers across Wales; the overwhelming majority of whom are fully compliant with current regulations.  

In 2016, the Welsh Government published a consultation on the future of agricultural pollution regulations in Wales which proposed the option of discrete NVZ areas, or a whole-Wales approach.  At present, just over 2 percent of Wales is designated as an NVZ, and the FUW Farmers’ Union of Wales strongly opposed any additional regulation being implemented onto farms which remain compliant with current regulations and are not responsible for pollution incidents.

Following the consultation, the FUW worked with the Wales Land Management Forum (WLMF) to produce a report for the Minister outlining 45 recommendations based upon 5 themes to tackle agricultural pollution in Wales.  Despite these recommendations, in November 2018, the Welsh Government announced a proposal to implement a pan-Wales regulatory approach.

The FUW believes that a pan-Wales approach is unjustifiable given that just 1% of all Basic Payment Scheme claimants are involved in a pollution incident.  

The fact that such a draconian blanket approach is being planned goes against the Welsh Government's commitment in December 2017 to strike the ‘right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment’ and ‘...explore further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach’.  Should the plans go ahead there would be an increase in the number of Welsh farm holdings subject to costly and restrictive legislation from an estimated 600 to more than 24,000.

The rules will have far-reaching repercussions for dairy farmers across Wales, but could also result in a fall in Welsh beef production due to increased costs and reductions in profitability.

The FUW has reiterated its call for the plans to be abandoned, and for a proportionate and targeted approach based on balanced evidence to be adopted. The Union recognises the serious need to tackle agricultural pollution but will continue to fight to ensure this is done in a way which is both proportionate and targeted, and reflects the local and national evidence base.  The FUW continues to work with the WLMF Group to put forward an alternative industry endorsed evidence-based approach before any regulations are finalised.

UK Farmers May Face a 25% Fall in Lamb Prices

The Farmers’ Union of Wales are reiterating warnings of the disastrous consequences of a no-deal Brexit on the Welsh sheep sector which are being felt once again since the newly accounted Prime Minister’s promise of leaving the EU on 31st October.

According to the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), EU retailers are refusing to sign long-term contracts for UK lamb exports due to the likelihood of them having to pay tariffs of 40-65% on lamb under a contract agreement after 31st October.  Instead, retailers are offering ‘spot prices’ for lamb for immediate delivery which would make UK produce uncompetitive once tariffs are introduced.  

The run-up to 31st March saw plans to either cull or offer compensation for unsaleable lambs, an approach that could be vital for securing our Welsh Lamb industry after 31st October.

The beef industry was faced with a similar situation in the run-up to 31st March in addition to the stockpiling of Irish beef imports which have since been flooding the market and reducing prices for UK producers.  It is imperative that the same doesn’t occur for our lamb industry which could see the abolishment of premium high-priced markets.

The BMPA highlights that the National Sheep Association and AHDB are forecasting a 25% drop in farmgate lamb prices when we leave the EU, and Hybu Cig Cymru suggests that 92.5% of our lamb export trade could disappear under a no-deal scenario.
 

FUW Concerned at Lack of Landowner Representation in Countryside Access Talks

Earlier this year, the Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Ms Hannah Blythyn AM, released a statement outlining the next steps on countryside access following the proposals contained in the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources consultation.
 
Delivery of the initial proposals accepted in the consultation will be delivered by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and other stakeholders.
 
Other reforms within the consultation require more work to consider the details and potential consequences of introduction.  This work will be delivered by a new group called the Access Reform Advisory Group (ARAG) and the group will be tasked with looking at the legal and financial consequences of making the access changes proposed. The ARAG comprises a Steering Group and a number of Expert Working Groups.  The Steering Group's composition will be made up of access specialists from NRW, the Welsh Government, National Parks Authority and a Welsh Government Local Government Association rights of way specialist.
 
Around 80 percent of the land in Wales is privately owned and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is extremely concerned that private landowners have not been represented on the ARAG Steering Group.  Private landowners have a wealth of experience relevant to discussions on the future of access and many have directly experienced many of the key issues such as fly tipping, fly grazing and livestock worrying across Wales’ public rights of way network.  Inclusion of such representation is essential in ensuring that future policies recognise the complexity of access issues and do not detrimentally impact upon the ability of farm businesses to operate.

FUW Welcomes Step Forward in Bovine TB Control

The FUW has welcomed the announcement that researchers have developed 2 candidate skin tests for bovine TB which are able to differentiate between cattle infected with the disease and those which have been vaccinated against the disease.

The ‘DIVA’ test was created by researchers from  teams within the UK, Ethiopia, India, the Netherlands and the USA and includes work undertaken by Ser Cymru Chair, Professor Glyn Hweinson, based at the Department of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

The development of a DIVA test is a crucial step in bovine TB control.  Vaccination of cattle against bovine TB is currently illegal under EU and International law as it is impossible to determine if a positive result emanates from bovine TB infection or vaccination.  The DIVA skin test mitigates this issue as the test will provide a positive result in infected animals, whilst vaccinated animals will be negative.  

The DIVA test must now be evaluated in field trials to ensure that it satisfies World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards. It is likely that this test will therefore not be available for use within the next 5 years.  

Whilst the FUW welcomes this positive step forward, it must be recognised that the availability of a cattle vaccination against bovine TB is not the whole answer and does not represent a ‘silver bullet’ to TB eradication.  Vaccination is not 100 percent effective and a DIVA test, which leads to vaccination, is just one ‘tool in the tool box’ for future eradication and control policies.

Contact

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

01970 820820
post@fuw.org.uk

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