Agricultural Policy

How Covid-19 Is Affecting Farmers

Farmers recognised as key workers


Farmers have been recognised by the Government as ‘key workers’ producing food and other necessary goods, meaning they can continue to go about their essential work in relation to producing food.
The category includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

The inclusion of farmers allows them to continue to undertake all actions necessary for the running of their businesses which they cannot undertake from home, and the FUW has made it clear to the authorities that this includes the movement of animals and feed - actions which are essential for food production and carry with them minimum risks in terms of coronavirus provided appropriate biosecurity measures are followed.

To date, the advice has focussed on the provision of schooling for key workers. However, further guidance is expected over the coming days, and the FUW has emphasised the need to ensure workers such as agricultural mechanics and contractors can continue to work to keep farm businesses running.

TB Testing During The Coronavirus Outbreak

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have published guidance for farmers on TB testing during the coronavirus pandemic. This guidance, including an FAQ, can be found on the TB Hub website.

APHA has prepared advice for vets in order to ensure a consistent approach to the prioritisation of TB testing across Britain. There are currently no plans to cancel any statutory requirements for TB testing. APHA is continuing to monitor the situation, and adjustments to TB testing instructions may be made as appropriate. Further details will follow as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

All government advice in relation to the coronavirus outbreak should be followed including self-isolation requirements if you have symptoms of the disease. If you live with others, and you or one of the household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14 day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. Social distancing should be maintained, wherever possible, especially if you are in a risk group defined by Public Health Wales.

RPW To Consider Crop Diversification Derogations Following Floods

The FUW has raised concerns regarding crop diversification requirements for complying with the greening rules as part of the Basic Payment Scheme following major flooding events since the start of the year.

As a compulsory requirement for receiving BPS payments, greening rules include crop diversification practices which, depending on the country, size of holding and land use, enforces arable farmers to grow a variety of crops during May and June or July.

Following industry representations, Rural Payments Wales have announced that they will consider any requests from farmers unable to fulfil their Crop Diversification obligations on a case by case basis. Affected farmers should submit their request, and evidence, using their RPW Online account as soon as possible.

For further guidance on the greening rules for Wales, and what affected farmers should consider when requesting a derogation from RPW, please click here.

Welsh Government Launches £2.5 Million Flood Relief Fund

The Welsh Government has launched a £2.5 million Flood Relief Fund which is available for Welsh businesses to apply for a grant of £2,500 to help recover from the recent storms.

The grant is available to businesses that comply with the following:

  • The business is an SME (fewer than 250 employees) based in Wales
  • The business needs to demonstrate that they have suffered severe disruption as a result of storm Ciara and/or storm Dennis and/or Jorge:
    • Directly impacted by the weather event, i.e. flood damage to the property, equipment and / or stock;
    • Indirectly impacted by the weather event, i.e. the business has had no/highly restricted access to premises, equipment and/or stock as a result of flooding; restricted access for customers, suppliers and/or staff; suffered loss of trade and have issues with regards to wages for employees.

Businesses will need to provide:

  • details of estimated affected costs to their business
  • evidence of business address (within the last 3 months)
  • photographic evidence of damage

Funding can only be used to cover costs that cannot be recovered from insurance and only one application per business. For more information and to download the relevant guidance notes and application form, please click here.

The Flood Relief Fund is open until 20th August 2020 - funds permitting.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme Now Available

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is now available to provide a loan to smaller businesses of up to £5 million with a repayment term of up to 6 years to help with lost revenue during this pandemic.

  • The CBILS can provide a government-backed 80% guarantee loan, overdraft, invoice finance or asset finance
  • There is no fee for smaller businesses to access the scheme
  • Government will pay for the first 12 months of interest and lender-related fees. NB Agricultural businesses may not be eligible for the full payments
  • Finance terms are up to 6 years for term loans and asset finance support and up to 3 years for overdrafts and invoice finance support.
  • For facilities of above £250 thousand, the lender must establish a lack or absence of security prior to the business being allowed to use the CBILS
  • The borrower remains 100% liable for the debt

Small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs - fewer than 250 employees) from most sectors including agriculture can apply for the facilities and must:

  • Be UK-based in its business activity
  • Have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender:
    • Would consider viable, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Believes will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty

For more information and details on how to apply, please click here.

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