Agricultural Policy

New Research Initiative To Play Part In Sustainable Agriculture

A new research initiative funded as part of the European Social Fund’s KESS 2 programme at Bangor University and backed by Hybu Cig Cymru will provide opportunities for Universities and the industry to support collaborative research projects towards sustainable farming practices.

Applications are open - the funding will be available to three fully-funded PhD scholarships.  Those successful will be supported by Dr. Prysor Williams, Bangor University, and will research into:

  • Meeting environmental targets while maintaining profitability for the beef and sheep sectors of Wales
  • Strategies for meeting targets for ammonia emissions and nitrate leaching reduction for Wales beef and sheep farms
  • Strategies to reach zero carbon sheep and beef production on Welsh farms

There is also funding available for a PhD studentship for ‘Determining the potential for precision grazing to improve the resilience of livestock production systems.’  Applications are open until 12 noon on 20 January 2020.

The principle of sustainable agriculture has become increasingly important since the proposals made by Welsh Government in the Brexit and Our Land consultation in 2018.  To that, and this year’s Sustainable Farming and Our Land follow-up, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has outlined numerous concerns over the impracticality and overoptimism of introducing such a sustainable farming scheme alongside removing Single Farm Payments - when considering that 80% of farm income in Wales currently comes from direct payments.

Despite this, initiatives such as the above that play a part in finding the balance between sustainable farming practices and maintaining a profitable farm business will be essential if such a scheme is introduced in Wales.  The Welsh Government must however realise that moving towards a more sustainable agricultural industry and working towards zero emissions will take decades.

Know Where You Stand With General Licences

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have recently reviewed the current General Licences for controlling certain bird species in Wales.  General Licences allow for certain actions to be carried out for controlling a list of bird species without the need to apply for a specific licence.  However, you must ensure that you understand and comply with the conditions of the respective licence in use.

General Licenses GL001, GL002, GL003, GL004 and GL016 were considered unlawful under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and therefore have been revoked and replaced with:

  • GL001 – Licence to kill or take certain wild birds to prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit or to prevent the spread of disease to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit. Species covered: Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Canadian Goose.
  • GL002 – Licence to kill or take certain wild birds for the purpose of preserving public health and preventing the spread of disease to humans. Species covered: Feral Pigeon
  • GL004 – Licence to kill or take certain wild birds for the purpose of conserving wild birds. Species covered: Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Jay
  • GL016 - Licence to take and release alive certain wild birds from food premises for the purpose of preserving public health and public safety. Species covered: Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great tit, Pied Wagtail

For more information click here.  If you are required to control a species which is not listed due to health and safety, conservation or to prevent damage to livestock, a specific licence must be applied for here.

General Licences remain in place until 31 December 2019.  It is proposed that these Licences, which are reviewed annually, will be reissued on 1 January 2020 without any significant changes, followed by an evidence based mid-year review.

What You Need to Know About Oil Storage Regulations

Oil Storage Regulations (OSR) require anyone in Wales who has the capacity to store more than 200 litres of oil (44 gallons) for their home or business to install an integrally-bunded tank to a required standard for preventing leakage or pollution.

Since 15 March 2016 all new or replacement tanks have had to comply with the regulations from the date of installation.

Existing tanks at significant risk (within 10 metres of surface water or wetland, or 50 metres of a borehole or well) have had to comply with the regulations since the 15th March 2018. 

Existing tanks which are not at a significant risk to water will have to comply by 15 March 2020.

The regulations cover all types of oil (except bitumen) and liquids including petrol, diesel, vegetable oils, bio-fuels,  synthetic and mineral oils, and waste oil.  

ALL domestic oil storage tanks i.e. for heating oil are exempt until the tanks are replaced.  

A farmhouse with occasional office use is categorised as domestic and is exempt until replaced, whereas buildings converted into holiday lets are considered as business and therefore must comply.

The OSR apply to the storage of any oil on farms including the storage of oil used for heating and/or power on premises as defined by the Agriculture Act 1947, therefore red diesel tanks must comply with the regulations.  Oil in use within farm machinery is exempt.

Oil stored within a building must also comply with the regulations. However, in some cases, such buildings could serve as its own secondary containment (e.g. impermeable walls and sleeping policemen for preventing losses).

For one tank, mobile bowser or Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC), the secondary containment must be able to hold 110% of the volume that the container can hold and be able to withstand a total failure of the full tank.

Further information is available here on the NRW website.  Please contact your local FUW office for any further assistance.

News in Brief

i) Investment for State-of the-Art Pig Facilities in England
An £11 million investment in the National Pig Centre in Tadcaster will see the UK lead the way in pig science research.  Projects being conducted at the Centre will include ways to improve pig welfare and lower the carbon footprint of pig production. 

ii) Red Tape Still Top Barrier to Business Growth
A survey by Hitachi Capital Business has shown that red tape and business uncertainty are the biggest barriers to business reported by farmers.

Other barriers include volatile cash flow, unpredictable weather and the value of the Sterling. 

iii) Beef Ban U-Turn Following Student Backlash
The University of East Anglia has put beef back on the menu of its shops and bars following a backlash from students.

The initial ban branded beef a contributor to climate change.  However, the u-turn came following concerns that the decision had been undemocratic.  Fifty-three percent of the council voted to overturn the ban; with just 36% voting to keep it. 

iv) Protests Over Beef Prices Continue In Ireland
Protests by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) are still ongoing due to the row over low beef prices - one of which took place at the ‘goods in’ depot at Dunnes Stores in Dublin on 11 - 12 December for 24 hours following discounted prices.

This comes after blockades in Co. Kildare and Co. Dublin on 10 and 11 December, and comments from Tesco stating that price promotions do not reflect the prices that producers receive.  The IFA continue to accuse processors and supermarkets as Irish beef prices are now 50c per kg behind Uk averages.

Major concerns regarding access reforms

The Welsh Government’s 2017 Taking Forward Wales’ Management of Sustainable Resources consultation put forward 56 proposals relating to a diverse range of issues, including forestry, agriculture, public access and littering, and posed 40 questions.

On 4th April 2019, Hannah Blythyn AM, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Housing & Local Government, told the National Assembly for Wales that in response to the consultation she the Welsh Government intended, amongst other things, to:

  • Introduce multi use paths (allowing cycling and horse riding on footpaths)
  • Reduce the restrictions associated with open access land
  • Lift the restrictions on cycling and horse riding, hang-gliding and paragliding, bathing or using a vessel or sailboard on natural bodies of water. 
  • Retain restrictions on use of manmade bodies of water, organised games and camping.
  • Extend access land to the coast and cliffs
  • Enable temporary diversions and exclusions to be applied across access land.
  • Create a new type of public right of way - ‘cycle paths’
  • Remove the anomaly that prevents organised cycling events on bridleways
  • Enforce placing dogs on a short fixed length lead in the vicinity of livestock at all times of year                 
  • Amend technical provisions around creating, diverting and extinguishing rights of way
  • Allow more flexibility around livestock control                     
  • Amend the requirement for a decadal review of access maps to a process of continual review                              
  • Repeal some areas of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act that are proving costly and inefficient                              
  • Change the role of Local Access Forums

The Welsh Government has since announced that three expert groups will be established to look at Changes to Open Access / CRoW Land, Flexibility on public paths and Communicating access rights.

The FUW has applied to sit on all three groups, but has made it clear that its views on access remain unchanged since the response to the 2017 consultation paper was submitted. 

In particular, the FUW argues that the Welsh Government’s own statistics show that the massive increase in access to the countryside that has occurred since 2000, through the creation of new paths and open access legislation, has had no noticeable impact on public health, and that the focus should therefore be on encouraging responsible use of what’s already there rather than merely increasing access.

Contact

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

01970 820820
post@fuw.org.uk

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