Lords reflect key FUW concerns in second reading of agri bill

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts has welcomed the fact that key concerns raised by the FUW in correspondence with members of the House of Lords were echoed by members across the political spectrum yesterday as the Agriculture Bill received its second reading in the house. 

The bill - considered to be the most important piece of UK legislation in relation to food and farming for more than 70 years - includes a clause that would ensure imported organic food from an overseas country is produced to standards equivalent to those applicable in the UK.

However, an attempt to introduce a similar clause requiring that any agricultural or food product imported into the UK under a trade agreement be produced to animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards equivalent to those in the UK was opposed by the UK Government and defeated during the third reading of the bill in the House of Commons on the 13th May 2020.

In a letter to members of the House of Lords, FUW President Glyn Roberts said “This has hugely angered farmers and consumers alike, not least given that the UK Government has committed to such a principle in numerous statements, and that maintaining UK standards and protecting consumers, farmers and food producers from sub-standard imports has cross-party support.

Farmers call on public to help avoid long term adverse impacts for UK food security and consumer health

Farmers in Wales are calling on the public to help them avoid long term adverse impacts for UK food security  and consumer health.

The call comes as a result of the UK Government blocking a change to the Agriculture Bill which would prevent food produced to lower animal welfare and environmental standards than is required of UK producers from being imported into the UK after the Brexit Withdrawal period.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Whichever way your MP voted, it's not too late to lobby them for the change to be reintroduced before the Agriculture Bill becomes law.

“You can send them a letter from our website making it clear that UK consumers and food producers deserve better, and let your voice be heard.”

The Agriculture Bill currently progressing through Parliament has, since being drafted by the UK Government, included a clause that would ensure imported organic food from an overseas country is produced to standards equivalent to those applicable in the UK.

An attempt to introduce a similar clause requiring that any agricultural or food product imported into the UK under a trade agreement be produced to animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards equivalent to those in the UK was opposed by the UK Government and defeated during the Third Reading of the Bill on the 13th May 2020.

UK agricultural global tariff announcement a step in the right direction

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has described the UK Government’s announcement of global tariff rates for key Welsh agricultural products which are broadly aligned with those of the European Union as a welcome step in the right direction - but has warned that these should not be watered down, whatever the outcome of current trade negotiations. 

Speaking just hours after a meeting with Greg Hands, the UK Government’s Minister for Trade Policy, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The importance of aligning agricultural tariffs for products such as beef, lamb and dairy produce is something the FUW made clear in a meeting with Minister Hands on Monday [May 18].

“Since February last year, we have written repeatedly to the UK Government regarding proposed draft tariff rates which would represent a major threat to UK farmers and consumers, the UK’s food security and would be a massive own goal in terms of reducing our negotiating capital in trade talks.”

In early March this year, the FUW responded to a consultation by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, stating that: ‘Tariffs on agricultural produce protect UK farm businesses against unfair competition from products produced in conditions which would be illegal in the UK, including in terms of environmental, health and welfare standards, workers rights and working conditions.

‘Be kind to yourself’ - FUW President urges farmers as many feel under pressure

Farmers’ Union of Wales President, Glyn Roberts, is urging farmers to be kind to themselves, as many are feeling the stress caused by the on-going Coronavirus pandemic. 

The call coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 18 - Sunday 24 May 2020), which focuses on kindness this year.

Speaking from his farm in North-Wales, he said: “These are very difficult times for us all and I know that many will be putting on a brave face, despite being worried, stressed and anxious for a variety of reasons. I urge you to be kind to yourself - if you feel like the world is crashing down on you, talk about it if you can and try not to put yourself under too much pressure. Along with the body, the mind is the best bit of kit a farmer can have. But it is also the hardest to maintain. We must listen to our body as well. It will tell you when you need to slow down and look after yourself.

“The single most effective thing you can do to help yourself to keep the mind healthy, is to talk. Talk about your struggles and about what you are feeling. Telling someone what you are going through is one of the biggest steps you can take – you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Equally, if you notice a family member or friend struggling - speak to them. Give them a call, have a virtual coffee catch-up. 

“One thing that we have seen all over the world, is that kindness is prevailing - especially in uncertain times. And amid the fear, there is still our community, support and hope. Better days are to come - a storm is usually followed by a rainbow. Be kind to yourself and others and remember - it’s ok not to be ok.”

Parliament must pursue amendments to agri bill to protect food security and safety

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says MPs and Lords must continue to work to introduce changes to the UK Agriculture Bill which protect the UK’s food security and maintain standards for consumers, after a critical amendment was blocked by the UK Government.

During the third reading of the Agriculture Bill - the first of its kind to take place under Westminster’s coronavirus 'hybrid' proceedings and electronic voting process - a clause which would prevent future trade deals from allowing food into the UK not produced to the standards required of farmers and processors in the UK was defeated by 328 to 277 votes, having failed to receive the support of the UK Government. 

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The FUW has highlighted the need for such an amendment in oral and written evidence to UK Parliament and Welsh Assembly committees. We believe it was a grave error on the part of the Government to oppose the amendment given that it had the support of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee and was supported passionately by MPs from across the political spectrum.”

Mr Roberts said FUW members and the public were appalled that an attempt to protect UK farmers and consumers from food produced to lower health, welfare and environmental standards had effectively been blocked by the Government, at a time when the importance of protecting the food security and health of the Nation was at the top of the agenda.

“With the Agriculture Bill now due to be considered by the House of Lords it is essential that they do all they can to correct this position before the Bill returns to the House of Commons, and I truly hope that the Government will support rather than obstruct this.”

FUW welcomes funding to support Welsh dairy farmers through COVID-19

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed new funding measures to support Welsh dairy farmers through COVID-19, following an announcement by Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths.

The dairy sector has felt the immediate impact of the global pandemic with the closure of the food service and hospitality sectors.

To support the sector during these challenging times, the minister has confirmed eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income in April and subsequently May will be entitled to up to £10,000, to cover 70% of their lost income.

This it is hoped will help ensure they can continue to operate without impacting animal welfare and the environment.

Prime Minister must issue urgent clarification that English lockdown changes do not apply in Wales

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has called for Boris Johnson to issue urgent clarification that English lockdown changes do not apply in Wales, describing the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Sunday May 10th as confusing and ambiguous and having failed utterly to distinguish between Welsh and English changes to restrictions.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday (May 10) FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “There appeared to be no attempt to make it clear that the changes being announced only applied in England. 

“Worse than that, the impression was given that the changes applied throughout the UK when this is simply not the case.”

Mr Roberts said he was particularly concerned that the Prime Minister’s comment that ‘you can drive to other destinations’ would lead people to wrongly assume they could visit Wales, thereby increasing the risk of introducing the coronavirus to Welsh communities as well as being fined by the police for doing so.

“In March the Welsh Government had to bring in emergency legislation to close footpaths and other public spaces as thousands flocked to Welsh beauty spots, causing a huge risk to themselves and others,” said Mr Roberts.

“While people are generally now exercising locally within the restrictions laid down by the Welsh Government, every day our offices are dealing with members who are in the vulnerable category and are concerned that the large numbers of people coming through their farmyards and fields are placing them at risk.”

Mr Roberts said that members were also extremely concerned at the number of individuals arriving in rural areas and illegally using second homes.

FUW calls on Welsh Government to follow Defra in introducing dairy hardship fund

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has called for the Welsh Government to introduce support for dairy farmers hit by severe farmgate price drops after Defra announced a fund enabling English dairy farmers to access up to £10,000 to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

FUW milk and dairy produce committee Chairman Dai Miles said: “Large numbers of Welsh dairy farmers have been hit hard by the seismic changes to dairy supply chains that have occurred as a result of the current pandemic, with many facing devastating financial losses.

Farmers’ Union of Wales highlights food supply concerns to select committee

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has highlighted the current impact of the coronavirus pandemic for Welsh food producers and the dangers of trade and rural support policies which undermine UK food security in evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee.


Responding to the EFRA Select Committee inquiry on Covid-19 and food supply, the FUW said that UK food supply chains have been severely disrupted by the current pandemic and the measures put in place to prevent its transmission, causing a seismic shift in how UK and EU supply chains function and drastic falls in farmgate prices across agricultural sectors.


Coronavirus must not undermine long-term livestock health, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has written to the Welsh Economy Minister, Ken Skates, in support of the British Veterinary Association’s call for action to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic does not lead to a future reduction in veterinary capacity. 


FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Mr Ian Lloyd, said: “The current pandemic does not alter the importance of ensuring that staffing levels within veterinary practices are such that 24/7 emergency care for livestock is provided in order to safeguard animal health and welfare. This may require staff to be brought back from furlough and it is essential that the furlough scheme is flexible enough to cope with this type of arrangement.”  


FUW welcomes TB testing derogation for youngstock

The decision by Welsh Government to exempt cattle under 180 days of age from routine or targeted surveillance bovine TB testing in unrestricted herds has been welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales as a pragmatic approach to the current pandemic.


Time is running out for SAF applications - FUW reminds farmers

Farmers across Wales are being reminded not to delay filling out their SAF applications, by the Farmers’ Union of Wales. The call comes after Rural Payments Wales (RPW) has reported a reduction in forms submitted compared to this time last year.

FUW Pembrokeshire County Executive Officer Rebecca Voyle said: “RPW has seen a reduction of around 20% in the number of SAF applications submitted when compared to this time last year. We therefore encourage and remind members that it would be beneficial if SAF forms were submitted early, where possible. This will help the Customer Contact Centre manage the workload and prevent them from being inundated with telephone and RPW Online enquiries close to the SAF deadline.”

Those who are unable to submit a fully completed SAF or any SAF Supporting Documents before the 15 June deadline should inform RPW via RPW Online or the Customer Contact Centre.

Applications under the Force Majeure / Exceptional Circumstances provision must be made within 15 working days of the final date the individual business knew they would be unable to submit their SAF and/or Supporting Documents by the deadline.

FUW urges dog walkers to keep dogs on a Lead when taking lockdown exercise

Recent reports of dog attacks on livestock during the Covid-19 pandemic have prompted the Farmers’ Union of Wales to urge dog walkers to keep dogs on a lead when exercising in the countryside.

FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee Chairman, Ian Lloyd, said: “We are reminding those taking respite in the countryside to also remember our farmers who are key workers producing our food at this very difficult time.  

“Many family farms in Wales have been hit hard by the closure of restaurants, cafes and other service outlets during the current pandemic. Avoidable losses, such as those that happen when a dog chases or attacks livestock, are unnecessary, bad for both dog and livestock welfare and add to the current financial stress being experienced by farming businesses at this time.”

The FUW has repeatedly called for legislative changes that will provide police forces with more powers to obtain evidence for prosecution, seize dogs, ban offenders from keeping dogs and have dangerous dogs destroyed.  

The Union continues to stress the importance of toughening the legislation relating to dog attacks on livestock in order to help reduce the severe welfare and financial consequences that occur when sheep are stressed, injured, mutilated or killed by dogs.

“There is growing frustration and anger amongst our membership that very little can be done to protect the livestock sector from dog attacks.  Prior to the pandemic, the number of reported dog attacks on livestock had shown some signs of improving and, whilst many dog attacks happen by unaccompanied dogs that have strayed from the home environment, our messages about keeping dogs on a lead near livestock have become even more relevant during this pandemic as people seek to get outdoors,” said Mr Lloyd.

Domestic food procurement process must be improved, FUW urges

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has written to Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe, outlining the urgent need to safeguard domestic food security and primary producers by ensuring that the procurement process is properly aligned with the Well Being of Future Generations Act.  

In his letter, FUW President Glyn Roberts stressed that it is essential that the food procurement process does not place price above all other factors and functions in a way which protects domestic food security, preserves the food supply chain and ensures the longer term viability of our food producers and their businesses. 

“The current Covid-19 pandemic has placed significant pressure on the  farming industry, with a varied impact on food supply chains. Whilst panic buying and other factors have led to significant shortages of certain foodstuffs, sales of produce through cafes and other outlets have plummeted.  This has led to major price cuts for many of our red meat and dairy producers.

“The pandemic has brought the importance of maintaining UK food security into sharp focus and it is essential that those businesses producing our most essential commodity are both supported and recognised in the short and longer term,” wrote Mr Roberts.

This, he stresses, is especially pertinent given that the Welsh agricultural sector was already under pressure from other industry uncertainties, not least those associated with Brexit and the current Welsh Government appetite for increasing agricultural regulation above and beyond that experienced by our global competitors.  

“Whilst the FUW appreciates that increasing and promoting domestic food procurement is not a silver bullet to current industry problems, we believe that it is essential that the UK Government recognise our key workers and lead by example when procuring foodstuffs in order to protect the longer-term viability and sustainability of those family farms and businesses which are vital in ensuring that the UK has a secure food supply,” he added. 

Draconian WG water quality proposals would push dairy farms ‘over the edge’, FUW dairy committee warns

Dairy farmers in Wales have spoken of their deep concern that water quality regulations published in draft form by Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths would push dairy farms ‘over the edge’.

Discussing the draft legislation at an emergency meeting of the Farmers’ Union of Wales Milk and Dairy produce committee, delegates were clear that a large proportion of the industry, which is already suffering severe impacts due to the knock-on impact of Coronavirus, would not survive if these regulations were to be introduced.

“Large numbers of Welsh dairy farmers have seen massive falls in the price they receive for their milk as well as delays to payments due to the closure of the service sector and other impacts caused by coronavirus,” said FUW Milk and Dairy produce committee chairman Dai Miles. 

This has led to some farmers having to throw thousands of litres of milk away and large numbers losing vast sums of money on a daily basis, said Mr Miles.

Support for Covid-19 ravaged dairy sector a welcome step - but more must be done

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has cautiously welcomed measures introduced to aid the dairy industry, which has been impacted severely by the closure of the food services sector and the realignment of the supply chain and market prices.

The temporary easing of competition laws, which apply across the whole of the UK, is hoped to enable greater collaboration so the dairy sector, including dairy farmers and processors, can work closer to solve the issues it is facing.

The temporary suspension of competition laws for the dairy sector was one of the options the FUW discussed with the Rural Affairs Minister as part of the Agricultural Resilience Group.

Responding to the announcement, FUW Milk and Dairy Committee chairman Dai Miles said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction. It will allow for a more accurate picture of the volumes of milk out there, which processors wanted. It will allow them to collaborate. 

“However its effect on farmers could be negative and other support measures must be put in place urgently. Of course, we need a more accurate knowledge of surplus milk but with that comes the danger of it having a negative effect on the spot prices - which a lot of dairy farmers are dependent on. 

“So as welcome as this announcement is, when accompanied by good will on the part of companies, there is a risk it will play into the hands of those companies least affected . Unless this knowledge is used to implement a compensated volume reduction scheme, it could cause more harm than good.”

‘Be your own guest for afternoon tea’ FUW dairy committee encourages public amongst ongoing Covid-19 crisis

At half past three, let everything stop for tea. The old tradition of ‘afternoon tea’ or ‘high tea’ has seen a revival over recent years, making it a popular treat for many.

With restaurants, hotels and cafes remaining closed due to the on-going Covid-19 crisis, the Farmers’ Union of Wales Milk and Dairy Produce committee is encouraging the public to bring the experience into their own homes.

“We all enjoy afternoon tea as a special treat. Either in a country house, posh hotel or in cafes across the country. But of course, all our usual options of enjoying the cakes, sandwiches, and other treats seem out of reach for the time being.

“So why not host your own afternoon tea party at home? Bring out the scones and clotted cream, fresh cream cakes, old teapots and fine china. You could even get the children involved in making the cakes and sandwiches. 

“Not only does it keep them busy for a while, provide an opportunity to come together as a family and enjoy a special occasion at home, it also helps our dairy farmers,” said FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee chairman Dai Miles. 

Those working from home are also encouraged to take regular breaks away from their desks and put the kettle on.

“These are difficult times for everyone and some might find working from home stressful. The usual routine of getting a coffee before work or at lunch time from your favourite cafe is not an option right now, but why not put the kettle on and make your favourite coffee or tea at home. 

“The benefits of including milk and dairy in our diets are well documented and what better way to take a break from paperwork than with a steaming hot cup of tea or a milky coffee,” added Mr Miles.

‘Be adventurous, be brave - try a new cut of PGI Welsh Lamb or Beef and bring the restaurant experience home’, FUW encourages shoppers

‘Be adventurous, be brave and try a new cut of PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef’ - that was the message from Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts as the on-going Covid-19 crisis plays havoc with the industry.

With increasing changes to consumer buying behaviour and the Welsh beef and lamb sector suffering from the closure of restaurants and cafes because of the Coronavirus situation, shoppers are encouraged to bring the eating-out experience home. 

“These are very strange times and it is difficult for everyone. Our dairy industry is already feeling the brunt of coffee shops and cafes being closed and our beef and lamb sector is not far behind. 

“Whilst we have seen an increase in people buying red meat in either supermarkets or from their local butcher shops, the type of meat that has been selling was mainly mince and diced cuts. It’s becoming a problem for carcass balance as the cuts of meat we normally eat in restaurants are not being used.

“I therefore ask our shoppers to be adventurous and brave - bring that eating out experience to your homes. Have a steak night in with some fantastic PGI Welsh beef or try making your own curry with PGI Welsh lamb. There are some great recipes out there, which are easy to follow and even provide a chance to get the whole family involved in making dinner.

“If you have some spare time on your hands whilst you’re in lockdown, why not use that time to cook up a storm, using our fine, sustainably produced Welsh ingredients.”  

Please keep children safe on farm FUW urges

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging farmers to keep their children safe on farms during these unprecedented times, whilst many are at home during the Coronavirus lockdown.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Having raised my children on a farm, I know that farms are wonderful places for children to grow up - our farms are wonderful places to learn about independence, responsibility and of course how our food is produced. 

“But farms and farmyards are not playgrounds. They are places of work and they are dangerous. During these extraordinary times, with schools closed and parents having to juggle more than ever, we must make every effort to keep our children safe.

“Children are curious, they will find ways of getting into things that you might not think were possible or up things that you might not even consider worth climbing up on. Or they will just appear behind your tractor, run out in front of your quad bike or pay a visit to that friendly cow that has just calved.

“Farms can be dangerous places for everyone, not just children, but children are put at great risk of injury when playing, visiting or helping out around the farm. I therefore urge you to make every effort to keep them safe - the stress, pain and worry if they get injured would be devastating.”

Extra time must be used to find alternative to draconian WG water quality proposals

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says the extra time generated by the Welsh Government’s decision to postpone a decision on water quality regulations must be used to find an alternative to the draconian measures published in draft regulations.

Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths announced on Wednesday 8 April that she was minded to introduce the regulations ‘once the crisis comes to an end’, despite the fact such a decision would go against the advice of official Welsh Government advisors Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and will cost Welsh farmers tens of millions a year.

Speaking following the announcement, FUW president Glyn Roberts said: "The proposed regulation if introduced would mark a betrayal of the principles of evidence-based decision making and proportionality, a betrayal of Welsh farming and - given the experiences in other NVZ areas - a betrayal of Wales' environment."

Urgent support measures needed to save dairy sector FUW stresses

The Covid-19 situation has led to a crisis in the dairy sector and urgent support measures are needed to save the industry, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has stressed. 

Following the closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants across the UK at the end of March, some dairy processors supplying the service sector found that their market had disappeared and orders have been cancelled overnight.

The Government enforced closures have led to rapid drops in the spot market price for milk and some farmers have been forced to dispose of their milk down the drain due to processors not being able to make a collection.

FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee Chairman Dai Miles said: “The situation is critical. Many farmers who have contracts with those dairy processors had their price cut, in some cases they are facing delayed payments and others had no choice but to dispose of their milk.  

“Those farmers will also not be compensated by their insurance companies as ‘Market Failure’ is not covered by policies. Therefore all the cost and loss is borne by the producer.

“This is not just about a few dairy farmers but the ramifications it will have on the whole dairy sector are immense.There is an urgent need for support packages to be made available immediately. ”

Around 25% of dairy farmers in Wales supply processors who have been affected by the loss of the service sector.

In teleconferences with the UK and Welsh Government, the Union has stressed that there are many who are unprotected and their businesses will fail if no help is offered. 

Respect Government guidelines and countryside code FUW urges

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging the public to follow Government guidelines and respect the countryside code in light of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

Having received numerous calls from farmers about the public extensively walking across farm land, leaving gates open and letting their dogs run free, Union President Glyn Roberts is urging the public to follow the rules.

Speaking from his farm in North Wales, Mr Roberts said: “ There can be no confusion - public paths and land in many popular areas across Wales have been closed to avoid crowds gathering for very good reason.

“However, despite clear guidance we are still receiving calls from members that the public are ignoring the lockdown rules, leaving gates open and letting their dogs run free on land with livestock on.

“What the public must remember is that when they use public paths crossing farmland, they are walking through someone’s home and workplace. Many of our farmers fall into the vulnerable category and will be self-isolating while also tending to their livestock.

“If they fall ill, there will be nobody to care for their animals and produce the food we all need.”

FUW welcomes Welsh Government emergency measures

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed a range of emergency measures announced by the Welsh Government in relation to the Basic Payment and Glastir Schemes.

In line with the FUW’s calls, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths announced today (April 1) that the deadline by which Single Application Forms must be submitted had been extended by a month, to the 15th of June.

In response to concerns raised about Crop Diversification requirements following the recent flooding and the added pressure and uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic she also confirmed the requirements had been withdrawn completely for the 2020 Basic Payment scheme year.

An additional £5.5m in loan support has also been allocated to support farmers who have yet to receive their 2019 BPS and/or Glastir payments. 

Long term viability of family farms must be protected during pandemic, FUW tells supermarkets

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has written to UK supermarkets and the British Retail Consortium asking them to ensure the long term viability of family farms are protected during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The call comes after dramatic falls in farmgate prices hit livestock and dairy producers over the past ten days as a result of changes to consumer buying patterns and the closure of food service sector outlets such as cafes and restaurants.

Average lamb prices fell by a quarter during the weekend of 21st and 22nd March, while many UK milk processors have announced significant cuts to what they pay milk producers and delayed payments for milk deliveries.

“High levels of ‘panic buying’ have led to immediate shortages of certain foodstuffs and empty shelves,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

Industry helps to match-make UK shearers and contractors

The UK sheep industry is facing a difficult shearing season, as the Covid-19 crisis makes it highly unlikely that the usual influx of highly skilled overseas shearers will be able to travel to the UK.

It is vitally important, to safeguard the health and welfare of the British sheep flock, that we carry out shearing at certain times of the year to minimise the risk of heat stress and fly strike. It is estimated overseas shearers usually shear about 20% of the UK flock, leaving a huge hole in resource this season. However, industry organisations are working together to try and ensure that shearing can go ahead using only UK shearers.

The NAAC is hosting a matchmaking register on-line to bring together shearing contractors, who are potentially missing whole teams of overseas shearers, with skilled, proficient UK shearers to try and get the season completed. Shearers are encouraged to come forward and register whether they can give a month of time or a day!

The organisations, in partnership, are encouraging farmers to get in touch with their usual contractor to organise their shearing.

Commenting, Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said, ‘Shearing contractors have a dual role in this Covid-19 crisis to keep shearers and customers safe, whilst supporting and providing a vital operation for sheep farmers. It is likely to be a more difficult, possibly extended season, and with Covid-19 restrictions in place, we will need more pre-planning on farms but we can do this if we all work together.’

Gareth Jones, Head of Producer Marketing at British Wool added, ‘We need the support of UK shearers and it is important that proficient individuals step forward to help in this national effort to ensure that sheep are shorn to a high standard, within necessary timescales, to avoid potential animal welfare problems.’

The website can be viewed here.

COVID-19: Being prepared

Given the scale of the global Covid-19 outbreak, it is important that all farm businesses are prepared for the possibility of family members or farm workers contracting the virus. If the worst should happen, having appropriate measures in place should help lessen the impact on your farm business. There are several schemes available which may be able to help source volunteers to undertake farm work if some members of the farm are out of action and these are listed at the end of the document.

Agreeing a plan of action before someone becomes ill will help alleviate stress and help the farm business function more efficiently until things return to normal. The plan should include who will take over the farm business and the farm work that must be prioritised.

The FUW has provided a Covid-19 preparation checklist and template farm preparation plan to help minimise business disruption should volunteers or those less familiar with current farm practise be needed to work on the farm.

FUW Covid-19 Checklist

1. Prioritise

Before Covid-19 has an impact on the farm, prioritise the work that needs doing. List the essentials that must be done in priority order and, where appropriate, update the list monthly to accommodate seasonal changes in farm practise. Leave non-essential work until the farm business is back to normal. You may need to think about how many days you would require a volunteer or helper to work on the farm and this will include undertaking repetitive tasks such as feeding animals.

2. Talk it Through

Discuss your plan with others in the farm business. Make a list of key contacts that will need to be informed if Covid-19 strikes. These should include the farm vet, contractors, suppliers, gas / electric / oil companies, the farm accountant, shearers, friends and family. Your FUW county office can also provide much needed help and assistance during this time.

3. Help the Helpers

It is important that handwashing facilities and disinfection kits are available for volunteers working on your farm. Think about the work that will need to be done and highlight the locations of important tools for the job such as handwashing facilities, keys, taps, medicines, disinfectants, chemicals and any other items that might be needed by the farm helper. Make sure that all important documents and information about the farm are easily available. This should include the priority work list, your farm contacts, the farm medicine book, the herd or flock health plan, a list of land parcels with livestock and so on.


FUW Covid-19 Farm Preparation Plan

The FUW has prepared a Covid-19 preparation document which can be placed in an easily accessible place in the farm for use by those helping run the farm if someone in the business is diagnosed with Covid-19. Download a copy of this Preparation Plan here.



Need Help? Find a Volunteer


Please note that before a volunteer can visit your farm, you must have current and valid Employers Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance. Click here to contact your local FUW Insurance Services office and ensure that you have the right cover.


Lantra Skills Matching Service

The Lantra Skills Matching Service puts businesses and potential employees in touch with each other. Click here to see the skills matching service for businesses. 

Click here to see the FAQ about the service.

Menter Mon and Conwy Cynhaliol

The Menter Mon programme in Anglesey and Gwynedd has a dedicated helpline for those needing on-farm practical support during Covid-19. Members wishing to access this service should ring 07739 948883 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The programme will contact a volunteer that has registered on their database. The volunteer will contact you for further information and guidance on what is required. As part of the programme ONLY ask that the most basic and important work be done.

This service is also available in Conwy through ‘Conwy Cynhaliol’. Those wishing to access this service should call Rhys Evans on 01492 576671 / 07733 013328 or via email on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Important information for our members and customers

All staff are currently working remotely, meaning our team are 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. 

Click here to see the contact details for your local office. 


Important links relating to Covid-19:




Be adventurous & brave - bring that eating out experience to your homes. Have a steak night in with some fantastic… https://t.co/WgVyNDDtq6
Follow FUW_UAC on Twitter
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

Senedd Research Blog: https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support/