Tractor technician Gwern is settling down - and helping keep the rural economy alive

Gwern Williams’ days as a Massey Ferguson engineer, working for many years throughout Europe, South Africa and the Middle East are over. Now he, his wife and two young children are running their own farm, Nantygwyrddail, Islawrdref , near Dolgellau, on a 15 year tenancy with the National Trust, which they took over in October 2017.

But Gwern hasn’t finished with tractors just yet. As well as managing the typical 350 acre Meirionnydd hill farm,  250 of which is mountain land, Gwern runs his own business repairing tractors and machinery to supplement income. 

“There are only about 20 acres of the farm where it is possible to harvest silage,” said Gwern.

“It’s just one of the particular challenges facing this type of farm, with limited land available to keep cattle over winter.”

At present they keep a flock of 130 Welsh mountain ewes, and 10 suckler cows, but hope to gradually increase the stocking in future.

The local FUW branch used the opportunity to show Dafydd Elis Thomas AM the importance of family farms like these and to discuss other matters such as open access to the countryside. 

Brexit Warnings Still Relevant three years on - Says FUW

Three years ago today (24 June), on the day the EU Referendum result was announced, the Farmers’ Union of Wales welcomed then Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to delay invoking Article 50 and called for the UK and EU to agree on a sensible timetable for Brexit.

 

FUW President Glyn Roberts went on to urge the UK Government to start work to build a positive future for farming and the rural economy outside the EU and warned that an EU exit over too short a period would have dire consequences for both the UK and the EU.

 

“There is a monumental amount of work to do in terms of changing domestic arrangements and legislation, including in terms of Welsh devolved legislation, not to mention unravelling us from the EU budget to which we were previously committed, negotiating trade deals and dealing with issues such as border controls.

 

“Such issues will also require a huge amount of work at the EU level, and we do not believe a rapid exit over a couple of years would be in either the UK or the EU’s interests,” said Mr Roberts in June 2016.

Future payments must be capped at far lower level says FUW

Tenants and family farms should be protected by capping future scheme payments at well below the 300,000 Euro rate which currently applies in Wales and by strengthening the active farmer rule, the chairman of the Farmers’ Union of Wales Tenants Committee has said.

Under current Common Agricultural Policy rules, EU Member States or regions have, since 2015, been able to voluntarily cap direct farm payments at 300,000 Euros.

Speaking after a meeting of the FUW Tenants committee, chairman David Williams said: “The FUW has supported the capping of payments since 2007, and was instrumental in securing the introduction of a 300,000 euro cap on Welsh direct payments in 2015 to maximise the amount of money going to typical family farms and those who make the greatest contribution to rural communities and the economy.”

Fears for the future - FUW calls for good governance to ensure stability for the family farmers of Wales

 

Against a background of complete uncertainty in terms of what Brexit will mean for farming and the nation of Wales, the President of the Farmers' Union of Wales Glyn Roberts has called on Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford for good governance to protect the family farms of Wales at a Grand Council meeting of the Union at  Aberystwyth, today, Monday 17 June.

FUW calls for enquiry into Conwy Council’s Great Orme ‘Witch Hunt’

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has demanded Conwy Borough County Council conduct a full investigation into its decision to aggressively pursue a case against a Great Orme farmer,  after the case against him collapsed during a court hearing in Llandudno.

45th United Nations World Environment Day: Welsh Family farms central to the solution

Farming families can play a  central role in helping meet the major environmental challenges of our time, says the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) on the 45th United Nations World Environment Day on June 5.

Government Review of ‘Brexit and our Land’ Consultation Welcomed by FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has given a cautious welcome to the Welsh Government’s review of responses to the Brexit and our Land consultation as a step towards recognising the threats and opportunities both Brexit and changes to rural support could bring.

FUW Calls for TB Taskforce Following Compensation Review

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is calling for much greater emphasis to be given to the economic impacts of a bovine TB breakdown following the announcement by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, that there would be a review of the compensation regime in Wales.

South Wales farmer highlights reliance of nature on farming to UK Minister

A south Wales farmer highlighted the central role played by grazing livestock and food production in conserving and enhancing biodiversity during a visit to his farm by UK Minister for Agriculture Robert Goodwill.

During the Minister’s visit to Bryncoedcae, which is farmed by four generations of the Bowen family, FUW Vice President Brian Bowen explained how the sheep and cattle maintained open mountain land which supported a range of species, in particular ground-nesting birds.

“That grazing which is so essential for wildlife takes place in the spring and through the summer up on the open mountain, but in the winter the animals are moved to our better ground and into cattle housing,” said Mr Bowen.

FUW President honoured by Gorsedd of Bards

Welsh farmers leader Glyn Roberts will be honoured by the Gorsedd of Bards at this year’s National Eisteddfod. The Farmers’ Union of Wales President will be recognised alongside Welsh rugby legends Jonathan Davies and Ken Owens, Anglesey comedian Tudur Owen and Ceredigion harpist Catrin Finch.

“This is a great honour, not just for myself,  but for the recognition it gives to the importance of agriculture to Wales,” said Glyn. “Farming is the backbone of a thriving rural countryside and the communities that live in it”.

Farming’s key role in tackling climate change

Farming must be recognised as central to helping tackle climate change, says the Farmers’ Union of Wales, highlighting the danger that misguided attacks on the industry over climate change could lead to knee-jerk reaction policies that add to environmental problems and increase carbon emissions.

Work on UK frameworks and funding essential, FUW tells new Defra Minister

 

On his first visit to Wales, the UK’s new Minister for Agriculture, Robert Goodwill MP, has been warned that work on developing a UK framework for agriculture is still essential, despite the collapse of the Government’s Brexit policy.

 

After a meeting with the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at the farm of Brian Bowen at Princetown, south Wales,  FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Whilst the failure to get an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has been the main story in recent months, we also brought a number of other critical issues to the attention of the Minister.”

Environment groups must ‘take share of blame for curlew decline’

 

Farmers have hit back at claims over the role of farming in the decline of curlews and other species, saying environmental charities and advisors must take their fair share of the blame for policies which have led to habitat degradation and increased predation.

New laws to control dog attacks - Private Members Bill is pledged to short cut process

A major new campaign to put an end to dog attacks across Wales has won the support of Ceredigion MP Ben Lake. The Farmers Union of Wales has linked up with other organisations to remind dog owners, “Your dog, your responsibility” and is calling for legislative changes that reflect the seriousness of the offense.  

New campaign aims to tackle dog attacks on livestock

A new campaign to put an end to dog attacks across Wales will be rolled out shortly by the FUW, based on solid research and evidence which has provided greater insight into this serious problem. The “Your Dog, Your Responsibility” campaign, launched last week, highlights the fact that 89 per cent of all dog attacks on livestock happen when dogs stray from home.

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Eat Welsh lamb and beef - help save the planet !

Recent reports highlighting the large quantities of water needed to produce meat and dairy products are well wide of the mark in Wales, where it’s mainly rain water which irrigates the lush pastures. Such reports are based on global figures which group together the extensively reared cattle and sheep of Wales with the intensive farms of the US. 

‘It’s okay to talk’

Agriculture carries the highest rate of suicide of any occupation, and at this time of year the pressures of lambing, long hours working alone late into the night, with little rest and often no one to talk to, can increase the pressures on farmers. 

Farming leaders welcome latest Brexit Bill

Farming leaders have welcomed last night’s Bill in Parliament which, if approved by the Lords, will enshrine in law that the UK must ask EU leaders for a long extension if Theresa May fails to get her deal through parliament by April 12 - effectively ruling out a no-deal Brexit.

Telecom giants push for 5G - but cuts to compensation for farmers whose land is lost

The UK Government’s push to increase mobile phone coverage across Wales has hidden, and potentially expensive,  side effects for farmers. The revised Electronic Communication Code means that Telecom operators have been able to cut rents paid to those with masts on their land.

Welsh farmers continue backing extra time to seal Brexit deal

An all Wales meeting of Farmers’ Union of Wales leaders has unanimously called on the Government to give more time to deliver on Brexit, following the latest voting in Parliament.

Article 50 revocation ‘only safe way’ to stop ticking Brexit time bomb and respect parliament’s opposition to no-deal

With just ten days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU the FUW has reiterated its call for Article 50 to be revoked, calling it the ‘only safe way’ to respect parliament’s overwhelming rejection of no-deal.Last night (April 1) parliament voted on four Brexit options but all were rejected, and today the Cabinet will hold an emergency meeting to consider a way forward.Under the current law the UK is due to leave the EU on April 12 with or without a deal.

Article 50 revocation still the best option following third defeat of withdrawal deal - FUW

The FUW has responded to the third defeat in Parliament of the government’s withdrawal deal saying that revoking Article 50 is the only way to guarantee a safe and orderly Brexit. The call came after Prime Minister Theresa May’s third attempt to secure parliament’s backing for her withdrawal agreement was defeated by 344 to 286 votes.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “With power over the Brexit process now resting firmly with Parliament, MPs need to recognise that withdrawing Article 50 is the only way to secure sufficient time to allow a consensus to be reached which bridges the political divides which exist within and between parties.”

Rigorous animal welfare protects sheep from pests and diseases

Sheep shearing is a highly skilled process and essential every year to reduce the likelihood of disease and parasitic infections, which can cause health and welfare problems for the animals.  Now the Farmers’ Union of Wales has joined other industry organisations to produce joint guidance on sheep shearing, reminding farmers and professional contractors to work together to ensure that sheep are handled appropriately during shearing.

Joint Industry Guidance on Sheep Shearing

Industry organisations have produced joint guidance on sheep shearing to remind farmers and professional contractors to work together to ensure that sheep are handled appropriately during shearing.

The guide explains and emphasises everyone’s responsibilities, so that every step from the presentation of sheep on farm, through to livestock handling and the shearing process is well-planned, organised and calmly implemented.

‘The Government’s sheep welfare code states that you should remove the fleece from all mature sheep at least once a year’, explained Dafydd Jarrett of NFU Cymru. ‘Many farmers are qualified shearers in their own right, whilst others choose to use professional contractors, but all seek to ensure the highest standards of welfare are constantly met.’

‘Phil Stocker, CEO of the National Sheep Association (NSA) commented, ‘Wool is one of the most natural and sustainable fibres on earth and the practice of shearing is an essential part of the process that also improves the welfare of sheep.   This industry guidance is a valuable checklist that will help farmers and shearers to prepare in advance so that the entire operation goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible.’

‘Shearing is essential for reducing the likelihood of disease and those parasitic infections which cause health and welfare problems for sheep.  Sheep keepers in Britain adhere to rigorous, scientifically validated animal welfare regulations and this guidance reinforces the commitment by industry to ensure that shearing is conducted to very high standards,’ clarified Dr Hazel Wright, Senior Policy Officer, Farmers’ Union of Wales.

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