NEW FIGURES SHOW POSITIVE EFFECT OF BADGER CULL

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed figures which show badger culling continues to result in major reductions in TB incidences up to four and a half years after the end of a cull.

Figures published yesterday in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, under the heading "Analysis of further data (to 25 February 2011) on the impacts on cattle TB incidence of repeated badger culling" show a 31.5% reduction in confirmed TB herd incidences in English badger culling areas over the four and a half year period after badger culling ended and a reduction of 37% in the six months to March 2011.

"These figures completely undermine previous claims that the positive effects of badger culling were not sustained in the long term after culling ended," said FUW vice president and TB spokesman Brian Walters.

"They also provide further evidence that the Welsh Assembly Government and National Assembly for Wales were right to support plans to cull badgers in north Pembrokeshire.

"The way in which the proposed north Pembrokeshire cull has been designed means the overall impact in that area is likely to be significantly better than the results seen in England.

"North Pembrokeshire has geographic boundaries and is almost three times the size of the English trial areas. All the scientific evidence published to date indicates that this will lead to reductions far higher than those seen in the English trial areas," said Mr Walters.

"The latest results from England show that scientists have previously been wrong to make sweeping statements about the impact of badger culling.

"When the Independent Science Group published its final report in 2007 we pointed out that the overall impact of culling would not be known for years, and were harshly critical of the politically loaded and unscientific claims made in the report.

"These comments continue to be quoted to this day by anti-cull campaigners, especially the claim that culling 'cannot meaningfully contribute' to future TB control.

"Yet the latest figures clearly show that culling continues to contribute to 'future' TB control, long after culling comes to an end, and we are still waiting for a scientific definition of the word 'meaningful'," Mr Walters added.

FUW SAYS BEAVER PLAN IS ‘CRAZY’

A plan to re-introduce a pair of European beavers into the Welsh countryside has been criticised by the Farmers' Union of Wales.

Ceredigion-based Wales Wild Land Foundation is in the process of building an enclosed habitat for the beavers at Artist's Valley, near Machynlleth, and is hoping to introduce the beavers this coming summer.

"The introduction of any non-native species into the country is a great concern for farmers in Wales," said FUW's land use and parliamentary chairman Richard Vaughan.

"We only have to look at the problems associated with the grey squirrel and rabbit, both non-native species, to see the potential for conflict in the future.

"The Union is also concerned at the problems Scotland is currently experiencing where beavers have escaped from private collections and are evading capture whilst travelling long distances, causing significant damage to trees.

"It seems a re-introduction of a species that has not been native to Wales since the 12th century is crazy .

"We are concerned that the introduction of these animals could ultimately cause conflict with agricultural and forestry management. If these animals should escape they are legally protected by EU legislation and, as currently reported in Scotland, controlling them could prove difficult.

"Recent experiences within the industry, particularly with regards to controlling the spread of bovine TB in wildlife, has left many farmers wary of any project that could introduce a potentially problem species into Wales," Mr Vaughan added.

FUW MANIFESTO HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY FARMS

[caption id="attachment_4294" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Gareth Vaughan Gareth Vaughan[/caption]

The next Welsh Assembly Government and its AMs were urged to recognise the key role family farms can play in tackling the major challenges of our age when the Farmers' Union of Wales launched its election manifesto today.

The manifesto "Farming For All Our Futures" has been posted on the FUW's website www.fuw.org.uk and published in an eight-page bilingual supplement of the April edition of the union's monthly newspaper Y Tir/Welsh Farmer which is distributed to all members.

The manifesto - which includes sections on the Common Agricultural Policy, red tape and bureaucracy, bovine TB, local procurement, the rural economy, rural broadband, the environment, and more powers for Wales - can also be found on Y Tir/Welsh Farmer's website www.welshfarmer.com

Revealing the manifesto document, FUW president Gareth Vaughan told the union's finance and organisation committee, meeting in Aberystwyth today, that after the May 5 election the incoming AMs and Government will be faced with tackling a host of challenges - many unprecedented - with a significantly reduced budget.

With the world's population estimated to rise to nine or ten billion by 2050 and global agricultural productivity facing major challenges, he said, their policies must ensure we are prepared for the imminent challenges global warming, rising sea levels and peak oil production levels represent in terms of food security.

"The FUW believes that ensuring a vibrant and prosperous farming industry is pivotal to addressing these issues, and that at the centre of the picture lies a key entity which is often overlooked and undervalued, namely the family farm.

"Compared with other regions, I believe that Wales has genuinely benefited from successive administrations which recognise the importance of agriculture to our economy, landscape and culture.

"However, if Wales is to rise to these new challenges, our politicians must resist the temptation to introduce short-sighted policies which undermine the family farm, and those politicians who ignore the family farm do so at our peril."

Advances in the devolution process mean that those elected to the Assembly have significant control over Welsh agriculture and have a duty to lobby those at higher levels of government for what is best for Wales, Mr Vaughan added.

"The FUW's concerns and aspirations regarding the most significant of these issues are highlighted in this manifesto.

"The FUW is not affiliated to any political party and, therefore, has a duty to work with the government of the day and the opposition parties, irrespective of their political persuasions.

"For the period of the next National Assembly and beyond the FUW is committed to lobbying all those in Cardiff to ensure that agriculture and family farms receive the attention and respect that they warrant - for the sake of all our futures."

FUW HOLDS HUSTINGS MEETING IN DELYN

The Farmers' Union of Wales' Flintshire branch has arranged a meeting at the Stamford Gate Hotel, Holywell, on Monday April 18 (starting at 7.30pm) for local farmers to meet the prospective candidates for the Delyn constituency of the four main political parties in the Welsh Assembly Elections on May 5.

The four candidates present will be: Mathew Wright (Conservative); Carrie Harper (Plaid Cymru); Sandy Mewies (Labour) and Michelle Jones (Lib Dem).

FUW's Flintshire county executive officer Marian Jones said: "We hope that this will be an opportunity for the candidates to present their policies for the election and it will be a chance for people to question and discuss various issues with the prospective candidates.

"This is an important meeting as it is the way in which the agricultural industry can ensure the candidates are made aware of the various situation which concern the rural areas, such as the agricultural industry, affordable housing, various services in rural areas, and the policies of the Local Government."

FUW SUPPORTS PURCHASE OF NATIONAL TRUST FARM IN PRINCIPLE

The Farmers' Union of Wales today announced its support in principle of the National Trust's bid to buy an iconic farm in Snowdonia.

Llyndy Isaf, a 614-acre farm in Nant Gwynant, Beddgelert, has been offered for sale to the National Trust by present owner, Ken Owen, who is retiring after farming the land for 35 years.

Mr Owen has given the National Trust a year to raise funds as he believes the organisation is best placed to continue his work and manage the farm sensitively in the future, keeping a balance between farming and conservation and allowing people to have quiet enjoyment of the area.

FUW's Caernarfonshire county executive officer Gwynedd Watkin said: "We welcome the National Trust's plans to invest in the farm and provide an opportunity for a local farmer to earn a living at Llyndy whilst bringing economic and cultural benefits to the community.

"We understand there will also be an offer of part-time work at neighbouring Hafod y Llan which sounds like an ideal package for potential young entrants to the industry.

"This is a unique opportunity to purchase a very special farm that has been very well looked after by the present owner, and if the National Trust is successful in raising sufficient funds we understand they will work with the local liaison committee established 13 years ago by the Trust after it bought the Hafod y Llan farm on Snowdon."

FUW CELEBRATES ANGLESEY DAY AT WESTMINSTER

[caption id="attachment_4287" align="aligncenter" width="500"]From left, Baroness Kinnock, Albert Owen MP, Heidi Williams, Speaker John Bercow, Eifion Huws, Gavin Williams and Gerald Thomas. From left, Baroness Kinnock, Albert Owen MP, Heidi Williams, Speaker John Bercow, Eifion Huws, Gavin Williams and Gerald Thomas.[/caption]

The island's agricultural sector was strongly represented by Farmers' Union of Wales county officials during the recent Anglesey Day at Portcullis House in the House of Commons hosted by local MP Albert Owen.

The FUW's delegation - national vice president Eifion Huws, county chairman Gerald Thomas, county grand council delegate Gavin Williams and county executive officer Heidi Williams - met Mr Owen, Speaker John Bercow and Holyhead-born Baroness Kinnock on the union's stand.

Mrs Williams said: "Anglesey had good representation with various island-based companies and organisations in attendance. Guest speakers included Peter Hain MP and Glenys Kinnock and there was dancing and singing from Parti Dawns Lan y Mor from Holyhead who were all dressed in traditional Welsh costume.

"During the course of the day, discussions also took place between Horizon and the Anglesey Economic department about the future of the island and whether Wylfa B would be going ahead which would mean keeping and creating hundreds of jobs on the island.

"In addition, there was a showcase of Anglesey produce with a vast array on display. The House of Commons sous chef was so impressed that he has decided to put on a dinner in the near future consisting of Anglesey produce.

"Visitors to the FUW's exhibition were mainly MPs who had family or some kind of involvement with Anglesey."

FUW PRESIDENT'S TRIBUTE TO BRYNLE WILLIAMS

A genuine friend of Welsh farmers and farming in general is how North Wales AM Brynle Williams should be fondly remembered, said Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan today.

Mr Williams was vice chairman of the FUW's Flintshire branch in 2000 when he was one of the leaders of farmers' protests at Stanlow oil refinery at Ellesmere Port when week-long blockades over escalating fuel prices spread and brought the country to a standstill.

"Brynle went on to become chairman of the branch between 2001 and 2003 until he was first elected as a Conservative AM for North Wales," said Mr Vaughan.

"He was also an enthusiastic and popular member of the union's central land use and parliamentary committee at this time and I know FUW members across Wales would want me to pass on their heartfelt sympathy to all his family and friends.

"Since becoming an AM he stayed firmly rooted in his farming background and fought tirelessly for farming and rural areas. He remained a genuine friend of Welsh farmers and farming in general.

"He was always easily accessible, helpful and cheerful. His selfless devotion to securing a better future for Welsh farming will be sorely missed by everyone."

FUW HOLDS HUSTINGS AT LLANRWST

The Farmers' Union of Wales has organised a meeting tomorrow night (Thursday March 31) at the Eagles Hotel, Llanrwst, for electors to meet prospective candidates for the Aberconwy constituency in the Welsh Assembly elections on May 5.

The candidates present will be Janet Finch Saunders (Conservative); Iwan Hughes (Plaid Cymru) and Eifion Wyn Williams (Labour) plus a representative from the Liberal Democrats.

FUW Denbighshire county executive officer Marian Jones said: "We hope that this will be an opportunity for the party representatives to present their policies for the election and it will be a chance to ask questions and discuss various issues with them.

"This is an important meeting as this is the way in which the electorate can ensure the candidates are made aware of the concerns of rural areas, such as the agricultural industry, affordable housing, various services in rural areas, and local government policies."

FUW DISAPPOINTED AT CCW DECISION

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today expressed its disappointment after a specially convened meeting of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) in Llangollen decided to proceed with the proposed extension of the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposal will now be sent to the Welsh Assembly Government for a final decision.

The meeting received a number of presentations from parties with an interest in the proposal including FUW Denbighshire and Flintshire counties executive officer Marian Jones who spoke about the union’s objections and concerns over the impact the designation would have on farming and local communities within the area.

Following the meeting Mrs. Jones said: “It has long been recognised that farming has helped to create and maintain the landscape in this area of Wales. We are disappointed that despite the majority of respondents objecting to the plans outlined in the draft designation order consultation, the CCW has decided to pursue its proposal to extend the Clwydian Range AONB.

“The union will continue to highlight its opposition to the designation during the run-up to the Welsh Assembly Government elections,” she added.

FUW WELCOMES CULL VOTE BUT SLAMS AMS' MISLEADING STATEMENTS

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today welcomed the National Assembly’s large majority vote in support of a north Pembrokeshire badger cull but has slammed anti-cull AMs for misleading statements made during the debate at the Senedd.

FUW member and north Pembrokeshire farmer Brian Thomas, who attended the debate, said: “The overwhelming support for the policy is welcome, and gives a clear sign that the majority of AMs are prepared to grasp the nettle and act responsibly regarding a severe disease crisis, despite misleading campaigns by animal rights activists.

“However, I was stunned by the inaccuracy and misleading nature of some of the statements made by those proposing the motion to stop the cull, and it is a disgrace that such statements were made in our National Assembly chamber.”

AMs Peter Black, Lorraine Barrett, Irene James and Jenny Randerson had tabled a motion to annul The Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011. It was rejected by 42 votes to 8.

“Mr Black quoted what he described as the latest data published by the Independent Science Group in February 2010," said Mr Thomas.

“Yet that group was disbanded almost four years ago, and he chose to quote data and conclusions which he knows were superseded and corrected in July 2010."

Mr Thomas said that this was just one of a series of totally misleading statements made by the anti-cull AMs.

“People have a perfect right to object to culling on whatever grounds they see fit, but for Assembly Members to mislead the National Assembly, whether by accident or otherwise, is disgraceful.

“It is not too much to ask that those who are elected to rule Wales are properly briefed. If Assembly Members receive figures from groups such as Pembrokeshire Against the Cull, which has admitted giving out untruthful and unsubstantiated information in the past, they should be astute enough to check their facts before speaking in our Assembly."

Mr Thomas also hit out at rock star Brian May for his involvement in the anti-cull campaign.

“Brian May describes TB as a ‘‘virus’’. This is so inaccurate it is like describing cattle as a species of fish, and shows that everything else he says should be taken with a massive pinch of salt.

“People who have strong views and are obsessed with single issues tend to be blinkered when it comes to looking at the facts and inevitable get things seriously wrong.

“Thankfully, the majority of AMs have taken a step back, properly assessed the evidence, and supported the cull.”

FUW OPPOSES CLWYDIAN RANGE AONB PLAN

The Farmers' Union of Wales has strongly opposed plans by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) to extend the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and will continue to lobby the case at a special meeting with representatives of the council in Llangollen on March 28.

At this meeting CCW will decide whether or not to send its proposals to the Welsh Assembly Government for the final decision and FUW Denbighshire and Flintshire counties executive officer Marian Jones and the union's Denbighshire branch president Glyn Jones will deliver a presentation on their objections.

In its response to CCW's draft designation order consultation the union objected to the plans, fearing that sustainable development, both on-farm and within rural communities, will be stifled by further planning controls applied to designated areas.

Given the number of existing designations in the area, the union strongly believes that any further designation would only serve to increase the bureaucracy and red tape endured by farmers.

Mr Jones said: "It has long been recognised that farming has helped to create and maintain the landscape in this area of Wales and it is the farming systems employed by generations of farmers which have created these cherished landscapes that attract numerous visitors to the area every year.

"Rather than considering further designation, we believe that more effort should be made to encourage a partnership approach to conservation through positive policies, such as agri-environment schemes, encouraging diversification and working with rural people."

The union's response also highlighted concerns that the stricter planning controls would adversely impact on the family farms within the area.

"Succession is an on-going concern within the farming industry with a lack of young people willing to take on the management of farms. Stricter planning controls within the AONB will only compound these problems," added Mr Jones.

FUW MEMBER WINS WOOL BOARD ELECTION

[caption id="attachment_4274" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Bedwyr Jones Bedwyr Jones[/caption]

THE Farmers' Union of Wales' official candidate, Bedwyr Jones of Gwastadanas Farm, Nant Gwynant, near Beddgelert, has won the British Wool Marketing Board's (BWMB) North Wales regional seat election. 

Mr Jones received 11,386 votes - 1,827 more than the runner-up in a four-cornered poll - compared to second-placed Huw Evans' 9,559 votes. Two other FUW members - Steven Smith, of Castle Caereinion, near Welshpool (5,783 votes) and John Foulkes, of Penymynydd, Anglesey (3,063) - were third and fourth respectively. 

Mr Jones, a 39-year-old beef and sheep farmer, is the current chairman of BWMB's Welsh regional committee. 

He has been farming in partnership with his wife Helen at Gwastadanas Farm since 1996 when they were successful with their application for the tenancy of the 3,000-acre farm on the side of Snowdon. 

They inherited a flock of 1,600 Welsh Mountain ewes and 14 suckler cows when they moved in to Gwastadanas. They then bought Bodrwnsiwn Farm, Ty Croes, on Anglesey in 2002, a 200-acre lowland farm, after which their livestock numbers increased to 2,000 breeding Welsh Mountain ewes and 400 New Zealand Romney X ewes. 

All ram lambs are either fattened or sold as breeding rams in the popular annual sale held at Gwastadanas when around 50 Welsh Mountain rams and 20 New Zealand Romney rams are sold. Some cross ewe lambs are sold on for breeding purposes whilst the rest are either fattened or kept within the breeding flock at home. 

Bedwyr Jones is a sheep man through and through. He was brought up on the family farm in Cerrigellgwm Isaf, Ysbyty Ifan, near Betws y Coed, where he and his brothers were given an excellent grounding in farming by their father Hywel Jones. 

Bedwyr set up a successful sheep contracting business at a very young age, and later helped the BWMB with their wool press project which looked into the haulage costs of transporting wool around the country. 

For the last seven years Bedwyr has represented Caernarfonshire on the BWMB and has been chairman of the Welsh regional committee for just under two years. 

He is also chairman of the Prenteg branch of the FUW and is vice chairman of the union's central upland and marginal land committee. He has also been chairman of Beddgelert School's board of governors.

Welcoming the election result, FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: "I am well aware that Bedwyr is keen to represent North Wales on the BWMB's central committee, and will work towards ensuring that the establishment works efficiently to the benefit of all wool producers in obtaining the best price possible.

"He will also concentrate his efforts on ensuring effective collection of all wool produced in North Wales in an attempt to lower the costs of the BWMB to a minimum."

FUW HAILS CHANCELLOR'S FUEL DUTY CUT AND FAIR FUEL STABILISER

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed the Chancellor's acceptance of the union's recent demands on him to scrap plans for a 4p fuel duty hike next month and introduce a fair fuel stabiliser scheme without further delay.

"For once, we are pleased that the Chancellor has heeded the demands of farmers living in rural Wales seriously affected by the current surge in inflation," said FUW president Gareth Vaughan.

"We had genuine concerns that motorists in Welsh rural communities would see prices rise by an extra five pence per litre (ppl) or almost 23p per gallon at the pumps next month.

"So the Chancellor's Budget announcement to cut fuel duty by 1p immediately and introduce a fair fuel stabiliser is welcome. But we also note with interest his admission in the Budget Speech that this will not end the pressure on family budgets.

"When I urged the Chancellor in January to scrap next month's fuel duty increase and introduce a fair fuel stabiliser scheme, prices for unleaded petrol across Wales were already reported to be running at £1.32ppl and up to five pence more for diesel.

"I believe that we had by then reached a critical point at which action must be taken to significantly reduce fuel tax in order to aid the economy.

"The FUW is very much in favour of the early introduction of a fair fuel stabiliser, where duty is cut when oil prices soar and goes up again when prices fall, as this will be much fairer on rural dwellers.

"Bearing in mind that there is a difference of as much as five pence per litre between rural and city garages in Wales already, any added fuel duty coupled with rising oil prices is devastating to rural communities all over the UK.

"It is grossly unfair that we here in the UK pay far more for our fuel than any other country and the fault lies with the extortionate level of tax imposed by the Government," said Mr Vaughan.

FUW WELCOMES U-TURN OVER MISLEADING TB CLAIMS

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed a decision by badger campaigners Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) not to repeat misleading claims in a leaflet distributed to homes in the county and published on the internet.

The decision comes after a complaint by the FUW triggered an eight-month investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). PAC has since agreed not to repeat the advertisement and to amend problematic claims in line with the ASA's Advertising Code.

FUW TB spokesman Brian Walters described the decision as a "welcome U-turn". He added: "It is unfortunate that it took an eight-month investigation and the publication of a draft ruling by the ASA for PAC to finally cave in and admit that they published misleading claims, but we are glad they have finally conceded.

"PAC's decision to accept they were wrong means the ASA has allowed the complaint to be closed informally, saving PAC the embarrassment of being ruled against in a formal adjudication."

The original leaflet - which has now been removed from PAC's website - claimed that "2 ½ years after the [badger] cull finishes, this benefit [the reduction of bTB] disappears"; that "WAG's cattle measures are inadequate, and it has signally [sic] failed to address the most important route of infection, cattle-to-cattle"; that "there are no plans to control the movement of cattle within, into or out of the [north Pembrokeshire culling] area based on TB risk"; and that "Vaccination will help with TB eradication, culling will not".

"The FUW provided scientific evidence demonstrating why these statements breached Committee of Advertising Practice Code clauses on Truthfulness and Substantiation," said Mr Walters.

"The ASA agreed with us, and PAC has now been forced to admit they were wrong.

"This gives out a clear message to politicians and the public that messages issued by single issue groups established to protect badgers need to be taken with a massive pinch of salt.

"Pembrokeshire Against the Cull is a newly established organisation with only one objective, and as far as I am aware they were previously indifferent to the nightmare TB epidemic which has faced Pembrokeshire farmers for decades.

"Conversely, the Farmers' Union of Wales has been involved in the science of bTB for more than 50 years, and our views have been established following careful gathering and consideration of all the scientific evidence over a period of decades.

"We don't want to see either badgers or cattle being culled, but when you are faced with a massive disease epidemic in both animals you have to take action."

FUW'S LUKEWARM RECEPTION FOR GLASTIR REVIEW ANNOUNCEMENT

The Farmers' Union of Wales has welcomed the Welsh Assembly Government's acceptance of the bulk of recommendations by the independent group's review of the controversial Glastir agri-environment scheme but raised concerns that the part acceptance of some options and the seeming lack of urgency about an urgent review of the payment rates will reduce the flexibility of the scheme to future applicants.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said the union was disappointed that some of the group's recommendations which would have introduced a greater degree of flexibility into the scheme had been rejected wholly or in part although there is much to welcome.

"We are genuinely concerned that the main opportunities provided by the package of 69 recommendations put together by Rees Roberts' review group, which represented a way of making the scheme more attractive to farmers, could be jeopardized due to delays in reviewing the costings.

"Until the costings more accurately reflect reality, the scheme is not going to be that attractive to farmers. We now fear that the costings exercise, which was considered urgent by the group, is going to take a while to complete.

"We are also disappointed that the opportunity to re-visit the all-important LFA element of the scheme has only been accepted in part."

ENTRIES NEEDED FOR FUW PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTRYSIDE AWARD

Entries are now being invited from individuals or organisations for the 2011 Farmers' Union of Wales Pembrokeshire Countryside Business Award which aims to highlight the achievements of younger farmers in the county.

Entrants do not have to be a mainstream farmer to enter, said the union's Pembrokeshire county chairman Dai Miles.

"They could be undertaking some form of diversification project on their farm or providing a service to the agricultural sector such as silage or slurry contracting.

"Last year's runner-up, for example, uses his computer skills to help install and maintain robotic milking systems and also works with vets to maintain computer links between them and the herd health schemes used by their farm clients.

"If the agricultural industry is to have a future in Pembrokeshire it is vital that we not only encourage new entrants into the industry, but that we also acknowledge the hard work of existing younger farmers and nurture them.

"In presenting this award we hope that the dedication and determination of the younger generation of farmers in the county will be highlighted and applauded," he added.

The award will be presented to an individual 40 years of age or under who, in the opinion of the judges, has shown a determination and dedication to the agricultural industry in Pembrokeshire, whether it be through farming in their own right, undertaking some form of diversification project on their farm or by providing a service to the agricultural sector.

To be eligible for the award the individual must be:

  • 40 years of age or under on January 1, 2011.
  • Actively involved in agricultural production or land management.
  • Normally resident within Pembrokeshire.

The closing date for entries is 5pm on Friday May 20, 2011, with application forms being available from the FUW county office, 3 North Street, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire SA61 2JE. Previous applicants are also welcome to re-apply.

A cash prize, perpetual trophy and a year's free membership will be awarded to the winner.

Last year's winner Neil Perkins, 31, of Dinas Island Farm, Newport, Pembrokeshire, has converted his family's beef and sheep farm to a low-cost sheep business financially successful in an environment without subsidies.

One of the judges, FUW county president Dafydd Williams, said: "Neil demonstrated a clear vision of what he wished to do following a visit to New Zealand on a Nuffield scholarship.

"His father agreed and their plan was supported by their landlords, the National Trust. Neil has a clear understanding of the industry as it moves into a period of much lower financial support from Government."

FUW HIGHLIGHTS CONCERNS OF FLAT MILK PROFILES

Welsh dairy farmers have expressed concerns about the adverse effect of flat milk supply profiles on their farm-gate prices.

Farmers' Union of Wales vice president Eifion Huws has written to Dairy UK chairman Robert Wiseman highlighting the impact flat profiles throughout the year are having on many dairy farm margins.

"While conversion to a flatter profile naturally incurs significant costs, maintaining such a profile is also much more costly than producing milk in accordance with the seasons, and this is particularly the case in many areas of Wales," wrote Mr Huws, who runs a dairy farm on Anglesey and is the FUW's milk committee chairman.

"Notwithstanding our concerns regarding the farm-gate price of milk in general, which you are well aware of, we do not believe that the majority who incur the extra costs associated with flat profiles receive farm-gate prices which are sufficient to make up for these costs.

"It has often been stated by Dairy UK and individual processors that the advantages of seasonal production for farmers are more than offset by the associated costs of seasonal variations in processing, and that flatter profiles therefore increase the overall income of the industry.

"Given this, we believe that dairy farmers should be afforded a fair income for their milk which fully takes account of the cost of production, including any increased input costs which benefit the dairy industry as a whole.

"I would therefore be grateful if you would raise this issue with members of Dairy UK, with a view to redressing the above concerns at the earliest possible opportunity."

Dairy UK represents the interests of dairy farmers, producer co-operatives, manufacturers of dairy products, and processors and distributors of liquid milk throughout the United Kingdom. Between them Dairy UK's members collect and process about 85% of UK milk production.

FUW APPOINTS NEW LIFE MEMBER

[caption id="attachment_4261" align="aligncenter" width="300"]NICHOLAS JOHN SOMERFIELD NICHOLAS JOHN SOMERFIELD[/caption]

A former chairman and president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales Carmarthenshire county branch has been made a life member of the organisation.

Seventy-four-year-old Nicholas John Somerfield, who farms Welsh Mountain hill sheep and Gelbvieh and Welsh Black suckler cows on his 220-acre hill farm at Crug-las, Bethlehem, near Llangadog, has been a member of the FUW for 48 years.

He will fill the vacancy left by John Price, of Ddafadfa Isaf, Gwynfe, near Llangadog, who died last July.

Together with his wife Kyra, Mr Somerfield also runs a small herd of British Toggenburg dairy goats, one of the longest established in Wales, which has exported stock worldwide during the last 25 years.

Many were sent to set up third world aid projects in Africa and Mrs Somerfield has twice visited Ethiopia to evaluate the progress of herd development there.

Brought up at Send, near Woking, Surrey, Mr Somerfield joined the FUW in 1963 when he and his wife moved to their Brecon Beacons farm.

He was chairman and member of the union's land use committee for 22 years when he actively campaigned for the needs of small Welsh family farms.

"Based on the principle that any organisation requires input as well as out-take, I have endeavoured to contribute towards the union's efforts on behalf of the membership," he said.

He is currently a National Park Forum and Wales Biodiversity Action Group Member and used to be a member of the Environment Agency's environment protection advisory committee and the Countryside Council for Wales.

In 2005 he was awarded a silver salver by the FUW in recognition of his services to the union and to the agricultural industry in Wales.

Announcing Mr Somerfield’s selection at a meeting of the union’s grand council, former FUW deputy president Glyn Powell said: “Several names were put forward and we had a difficult task choosing just one.

"After discussions on the amount of service and the commitment they had all given to the union we decided unanimously to recommend the election of Nicholas John Somerfield.”

FUW SAYS FSA PENSIONS PLAN BEGGARS BELIEF

Revelations that the Food Standard Agency plans to increase its meat inspection charges to reduce their pension deficit of £103 million have outraged the Farmers’ Union of Wales and been labelled as a “disgrace” by president Gareth Vaughan at today’s meeting of the union’s grand council.

The union learned at a recent stakeholders meeting in York that nearly 15 per cent (£4.7 million) of the FSA’s proposed meat inspection charges for 2011/2012 are required to reduce its pension.

“The overall proposals are clearly a disgrace, but to pass on pension deficits to the industry and call them ‘costs’ beggars belief, and are something we will be writing to the European Commission about, as we believe this breaks EU rules,” said Mr Vaughan.

The majority of small and medium-sized slaughterhouses in Wales could close if their operators are forced to pay for bureaucratic and costly meat hygiene inspections, and face the additional £32 million burden.

“It is unlikely that cost increases will be passed on to customers rather than primary producers. Therefore, the proposals will have significant consequences in terms of farm incomes,” said Mr Vaughan.

“But perhaps the biggest concern is that the proposals come as manna from heaven to the supermarkets, and will increase their already massive control over the supply chain. It is estimated that over 50% of cattle and 70% of sheep are slaughtered in the independent, small and medium sized plants which are most threatened by these plans.

“To put it bluntly, the FSA is planning to hand over what is left of the independent meat industry to the supermarkets, and this is something that FUW will fight tooth and nail to prevent,” added Mr Vaughan.

FUW WELCOMES LATEST BOVINE TB ERADICATION MEASURES

Today's decision by Wales' Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones to go ahead with a badger cull in north Pembrokeshire was welcomed by the Farmers' Union of Wales.

"It marks an important step towards reducing bovine TB (bTB) incidences in an area that has one of the highest rates of the disease in Europe," said the FUW's bTB spokesman, Carmarthenshire dairy farmer Brian Walters.

"The approach consistently promoted by the Minister has been shown to reduce the chances of cattle becoming infected with bTB.

"The Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011 she has laid before the Assembly today allows culling in one part of Wales in a way which will reduce badger numbers rather than eradicate them.

"Successive votes in the National Assembly have shown that the cull has cross party support from the majority of AMs.

"It seems likely that the order will be debated by the Assembly in the coming weeks, and we hope that AMs will have the same resolve as that shown by the Minister and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG).

"The only thing which has changed since previous votes is that further scientific analysis has shown culling to be even more effective at stopping bTB over a prolonged period than was previously thought."

The Minister today announced new controls to deal with TB in non-bovines - including camelids, goats and deer - which were also welcomed by the FUW.

Mr Walters added that a paper published by the FUW last summer suggested a badger cull in north Pembrokeshire could reduce bTB herd incidences by 30% during a five-year cull and by 32% in a three-and-a-half-year period following culling.

"There is only one approach which has been shown scientifically to reduce bTB incidences in hotspot areas where bTB is endemic in badgers, and that is culling.

"Without decisive, science-based action we will not see the outcome we all want, which is cattle and badgers free of disease.

"With the cost to the taxpayer expected to reach more than £30m this year, bTB remains a major concern for the Welsh Assembly Government and one of the most serious economic issues facing the Welsh farming industry.

"And for those forced to watch their businesses being closed down and their animals removed for slaughter, the emotional cost is one that cannot be assigned a monetary value."

FUW WELCOMES COMMON SENSE FOR WELSH COMMONS

The FUW has welcomed a U-turn by the Welsh Assembly Government which will allow farmers' entitlements to be re-calculated where they are affected by reductions in common land forage areas.

The decision comes following extensive lobbying by the FUW over a prolonged period.

In the January edition of the WAG publication Gwlad, farmers were informed that they could face a reduction in the notional area they were allocated on commons due to re-mapping, and were told that they may require additional land to activate all their entitlements. The article also advised farmers to consider selling surplus entitlements.

FUW Common Land Committee Chairman, Lorraine Howells, said: "The FUW had written to WAG many times over the past six years warning that re-mapping without re-calculating entitlements would represent a serious departure from the historic single payment system adopted in Wales, and was likely to have severe consequences for large numbers of Welsh farmers."

"We were therefore appalled by the contents of the Gwlad article and immediately stepped up our lobbying, warning that the FUW would support legal action against such a policy."

Under the Welsh Single Payment Scheme, farmers with common land were granted entitlements based upon the forage areas of their common land areas in the years 2000-2002 - areas which were dictated to them by the authorities.

"Commoners had no control over these allocations during 2000-2002, so to suddenly reduce allocations, and thereby incomes, due to re-mapping would have been totally unjust," said Miss Howells.

"There was also a risk that commoners would have been informed of these changes at a time when it would have been too late to take action to minimise losses.

"This is therefore an important and welcome move by the Welsh Government.

"However, commoners should be aware that the re-mapping process is likely to have an impact for commoners in the future, for example in terms of Tir Mynydd payments, and when flat rate payments are introduced under the Common Agricultural Policy," added Miss Howells.

FUW SLAMS ASSEMBLY OVER EU DAIRY FUND DISTRIBUTION

The Farmers' Union of Wales today reacted angrily to the Welsh Assembly Government's decision to reject a way of distributing an emergency EU fund for dairy farmers that would have favoured Wales' smaller producers.

Two distribution options were considered by the Assembly - Option 1: a payment of 0.2 pence per litre (ppl) of production during the 12-month period of greatest market disturbance (1 October 2008 to 30 September 2009) to each dairy farmer and Option 2: a two-tier payment comprising a payment of 0.5ppl on the first 100,000 litres of production plus an estimated payment of 0.15ppl on production over 100,000 litres during the specified period.

Both options had been considered by the FUW's 12 county branches and by the union's milk and dairy produce committee with the overwhelming majority favouring a two-tier mechanism on the grounds that, on average, smaller producers had higher production costs and were, by definition, unable to benefit from production bonuses and other production-related advantages.

"The two-tier system was also backed by members who stood to lose out under such a calculation," said committee chairman, Anglesey dairy farmer Eifion Huws.

"The decision, therefore, comes as a smack in the face for Wales's smaller family farms and I am extremely disappointed that the Minister has not opted for a more equitable system.

"It is claimed that if Wales had chosen an alternative option to the rest of the UK, the payments could not be guaranteed to be made by the deadline of 30 June 2010 by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

"Yet there are less than 2,300 dairy farms in Wales, and a two-tier calculation based on milk production is so straightforward a child could do it. If it is true that the RPA couldn't undertake a simple calculation for such a small number of holdings before July then that demonstrates that the agency is both incompetent and unfit for purpose.

"However, my main concern is that the Minister has simply bowed to pressure from the other devolved regions. While the moneys involved are not substantial, this sends out a damning message regarding the Welsh Assembly Government's support for smaller family farms."

Announcing she had selected Option 1, Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said it was chosen by the majority of farmers and industry representatives throughout the UK but she admitted in Wales their consultation gave a 50/50 split between both options.

Farmers will be receiving their payments from mid-April 2010 until the end of June.

ADDITIONAL PAYMENT FOR EX-DFB SUPPLIERS A POSITIVE MOVE, SAYS FUW

The Farmers' Union of Wales today described as a positive development the additional 2p per litre former suppliers of collapsed cooperative Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFB) are to get for milk they had to sell for a much reduced price before they could find a new buyer.

"We must look on the positive side because most farmers supplying Dairy Farmers did not expect to receive such a payment," said FUW milk committee chairman Eifion Huws.

"It is very welcome but for most suppliers it means an additional payment of hundreds of pounds, not the thousands they would have expected for their milk."

Mr Huws believes it took some farmers up to six weeks to secure a new buyer after receivers Pricewaterhouse Coopers were appointed in June 2009.

The unexpected additional payments were possible following successful cash collections by the receivers from milk customers over the past six months.

DFB employed a total of 2,200 at its cheese factory at Llandyrnog, Denbighshire, and liquid milk dairy in Bridgend plus other sites in the south-west and north-east of England and the Midlands.

It had 1,800 farmer members across Great Britain who supplied over one billion litres to the food and drink industry.

FUW WELCOMES AM's REPORT ON GLASTIR

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed the conclusions of the Assembly's rural development sub-committee's inquiry into the new Glastir land management scheme outlined in a letter to rural affairs minister Elin Jones.

The letter by sub-committee chairman Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM calls for greater clarity over the scheme. The chairman of the FUW's land use and parliamentary committee Richard Vaughan gave evidence to the sub-committee when it met in Dolgellau last month.

He highlighted the confusion among farmers and demanded that the scheme be deferred until there is greater clarity of all the options.

"The union fully supports the sub-committee's recommendations urging the Assembly Government to review its decision not to provide project officer support for the entry-level scheme and to consider whether its offices have the capacity to deal with increased demand for support from farmers," said Mr Vaughan.

"Glastir represents a seed change for farmers in Wales and it's high time that the Assembly realised that farmers need time to adapt and more details about the scheme so that they can make the right business decisions."

FARMERS URGED TO NOTIFY EMERGENCY SERVICES OF CONTROLLED BURNING

North Wales farmers were urged today to notify the region’s fire and rescue service when they are undertaking controlled burning of heather, grass bracken and gorse on their land to avoid false alarms.

Over the next few weeks staff from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service will be visiting livestock markets in Ruthin, St Asaph, Mold, Gaerwen, Bryncir, Llanrwst and Dolgellau giving away torches branded with a "controlled burning" telephone number and leaflets to remind landowners how to conduct a safe controlled burn.

"This is an excellent initiative by the fire and rescue services," said Farmers’ Union of Wales Flint and Denbigh county executive officer Marian Jones. "We always urge our farmers to notify the rescue services when they are carrying out a controlled burn.

"It is a very good idea and a welcome reminder that will not only help to avoid false alarms but also to ensure the safety of livestock and wildlife."

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are visiting the following markets on the following dates:

Ruthin - March 3

St Asaph - March 10

Bryncir - March 14

Mold - March 18

Gaerwen - March 22

Dolgellau - April 1

Llanrwst - April 14

FUW MEETING TO INFORM FARMERS ABOUT CAP ISSUES

Farmers' Union of Wales' Glamorgan and Gwent county branches have organised a joint open meeting on two topical agricultural issues to be held at the Royal Oak, Nelson, on Tuesday March 8 at 7.30pm.

Agricultural policy director Nick Fenwick will discuss the question "Common Agricultural Policy reform post 2013 - will there be any Single Farm Payment?" and two Welsh Assembly Government commons development officers Berry Coffman and David Parfitt will consider "Glastir for common land holders".

For more information contact FUW Glamorgan office on 01446 774838.

"The meeting will help inform farmers of the issues surrounding CAP reform if they decide to attend any of the four meetings being organised throughout Wales by Kay Swinburne MEP to discuss the CAP," said FUW Glamorgan county executive officer Adrian Evans.

Those meetings will be attended by representatives from the European Union agriculture committee and the European Commission.

They will take place on:

April 1 (from 6-9pm) at Glyndwr University, St Asaph;

April 8 (6-9pm) at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells;

April 27 (6-9pm) at Haverfordwest (tbc);

April 28 (6-9pm) at the Bridges Community Centre, Monmouth.

For more information call 029 20628 685 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
blocked::mailto:kayswinburnemep@welshconservatives.com" href="mailto:kayswinburnemep@welshconservatives.com">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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/