FUW OFFICIALS NOT SO CHUFFED ABOUT DWINDLING CHOUGH NUMBERS

 

[caption id="attachment_4206" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Morgan Jones-Parry, far left,shows FUW president Gareth Vaughan, vice president Glyn Roberts, deputy president Emyr Jones and Jill Evans the area where chough numbers have virtually disappeared. Morgan Jones-Parry, far left,shows FUW president Gareth Vaughan, vice president Glyn Roberts, deputy president Emyr Jones and Jill Evans the area where chough numbers have virtually disappeared.[/caption]

North Wales farmer Morgan Jones-Parry is not so chuffed about the declining numbers of the rare chough (pronounced "chuff") bird on his farm.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says the chough has a restricted westerly distribution in the British Isles and because of its small numbers and historically declining populations it is an Amber List species.

But Mr Jones-Parry, chairman of the Farmers' Union of Wales Caernarfonshire branch, of Ciliau Uchaf, Llithfaen, blames Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) red tape for the virtual disappearance from the area of the chough that used to be abundant along the coastal path on the northern shores of the Lleyn peninsula.

He invited Welsh MEP Jill Evans to meet other FUW officers and see how CCW's management restrictions on grazing livestock numbers for the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on land he farms at nearby Nant Gwrtheyrn has destroyed the chough's habitat.

"It's a classic example of what's happening all over the country where vegetation is allowed to grow out of control due to environmental establishments enforcing management prescriptions which haven't always been beneficial to the valuable environment they were supposed to be trying to protect," said Mr Jones-Parry.

"By walking down along the coastal path from Ciliau Uchaf farmyard to Nant Gwrtheyrn we were able to see the area where the chough, which likes to search for insects and larvae on heavily grazed land, used to be.

"The CCW designated the site as an SSSI and insisted that the numbers of livestock grazing the area should be reduced to protect the habitat of the chough. By today the species has virtually gone from the area and that is because of the overgrown vegetation."

While its black plumage identifies it as a crow, the chough has a red bill and legs unlike any other member of the crow family and readily displays its mastery of flight with wonderful aerial displays of diving and swooping.

FUW Caernarfonshire county executive officer Gwynedd Watkin said: "We told Jill Evans that it's important to ensure a better balanced approach towards food production and looking after the environment when the EC considers the future of the Common Agricultural Policy.

"Morgan Jones-Parry and his family must have been doing something right over the years that they've been farming at Ciliau Uchaf, so why insist on changing the management strategy of the land in question?

"It's important that taxpayers' money is spent in a more efficient way in future, whilst at the same time acknowledging the local knowledge and expertise of farmers in Wales."

FUW HELPS SCHOOL-LEAVER TOWARDS FARMING AMBITION

[caption id="attachment_4202" align="aligncenter" width="300"]From left, Gareth Vaughan, FUW Glamorgan county president John Llewellyn, Lewys Hopkin, FUW deputy president Emyr Jones and Glamorgan county chairman Glyn Jones From left, Gareth Vaughan, FUW Glamorgan county president John Llewellyn, Lewys Hopkin, FUW deputy president Emyr Jones and Glamorgan county chairman Glyn Jones[/caption]

RECENT Rhondda Cynon Taff school-leaver Lewys (correct spelling) Hopkin has just taken a big step towards achieving his ambition to run his parent's farm within the next few years.

Lewys, of Cefn Coed, Llanharry, Pontyclun - a member of a well known local farming family - has won the Farmers' Union of Wales Walter Rowlands memorial award worth £200.

A former pupil of Llansannor primary and Cowbridge comprehensive schools, he has started working as a trainee agricultural fitter with David Evans of Llancarfan and hopes to go to an agricultural engineering college to gain his City and Guilds in agricultural engineering.

"The opportunity to train as a fitter is the realisation of my schoolboy dreams which I hope will stand me in good stead for my future farming ambitions of running the family farm," said Lewys, whose grandparents Stan and Sheila Hopkin, of Rectory farm, Llansannor, were among the first members of the FUW over 50 years ago.

"This award will help me build up a tool bag for my training to become a fitter," he added.

A member of Maendy Young Farmers' Club, he hopes to take part in stock judging and countryside skills competitions. He currently plays rugby for Llanharan.

Walter Rowlands was the FUW's first county executive officer in Glamorgan. He served the union from 1956 to 1985.

To recognise his contribution to the union, the memorial fund makes an annual award of £200 towards the cost of books and equipment to students living within the old Glamorgan county boundary who have been accepted for an agricultural course.

Presenting the award to Lewys during a ceremony at the Masons Arms Hotel, Bryncethin, FUW president Gareth Vaughan said he was delighted to see young enthusiastic people entering the industry.

"I wish Lewys every success with his future career and his aspirations to be a full-time, respected farmer with good back-up skills and qualifications."

The union's current Glamorgan county executive officer Adrian Evans said: "We are very grateful to Walter's son Greg Rowlands and his family for ensuring the continuity of this award."

Applications for next year's award must be received at FUW's County Office, 58 Eastgate, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan CF71 7AB by November 30. Contact Adrian Evans or Christine Anstee on 01446 774838 for further details.

WELSH BLACK BULL HELPS SCARLETS AND FUW PROMOTE FARMING

[caption id="attachment_4199" align="aligncenter" width="300"]From left, FUW president Gareth Vaughan, Scarlets’ players Salesi Finau and Scott Quinnell with 15-month-old 600kg Welsh Black bull Gwarcwm Aron 23rd, Trevor Jones and past FUW president Bob Parry before the Heineken Cup match against Perpignan in 2003. From left, FUW president Gareth Vaughan, Scarlets’ players Salesi Finau and Scott Quinnell with 15-month-old 600kg Welsh Black bull Gwarcwm Aron 23rd, Trevor Jones and past FUW president Bob Parry before the Heineken Cup match against Perpignan in 2003.[/caption]

A Welsh Black bull will be paraded around the pitch when the Scarlets entertain Ulster in a televised Magners League rugby match at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, on Friday evening February 18.

The event will be a repeat of two previous parades by Welsh Black bulls on the Scarlets' former Stradey Park pitch before Heineken Cup matches against Colomiers in 2001 and Perpignan in 2003 to draw attention to the prolonged French ban on UK beef imports following the foot and mouth disease outbreak exactly 10 years ago.

This time the bull will be the highlight of a unique occasion when the Scarlets team up with the Farmers' Union of Wales to provide a special farming theme at the stadium before Friday evening's match.

The bull will be supplied by FUW stalwart and past Welsh Black Cattle Society president Trevor Jones and his son Huw, of Bow Street, near Aberystwyth.

They have won scores of top prizes and championships at numerous agricultural shows since 1960 including the Royal Welsh show, Pembrokeshire show and the former United Counties show.

Among other events planned before the Ulster match are a display by Meirion Owen’s Quackpack, farm livestock displays, milking a life sized model of a cow and YFC mascots Tiff and Taff kicking goals in wellies.

The Scarlets’ Supporters Village will also house a farmers' market with plenty of local produce on offer. A few spaces remain available for local farmers to set up a stall and they should contact Scarlets' communications officer Nerys Jones on 01554 783910 or 07970 601597 for details.

And in a special promotion with the Scarlets, FUW members can obtain half price admission to the match (£10 for adults, £5 for children) on presentation of a voucher - printed on page 2 of the February issue of the union's "Welsh Farmer" newspaper - which is valid up until the 7.05pm kick-off.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: “We are very pleased to be taking part in this special farming theme event. Let’s hope the Welsh Black bull will give the Scarlets more luck than they had at the Bull Ring in Perpignan during last month’s Heineken Cup match!”

Scarlets commercial director Rupert Moon said: “I am delighted to be working again with the FUW after I was involved with them when I worked for the WRU and a Welsh Black bull was paraded on the Millennium Stadium before the Wales-All Blacks match in November 2006.

"That was a great advert for the quality of Welsh livestock which was seen across the world and I'm sure our special farming theme for the televised match against Ulster will boost the profile of farmers throughout Wales once again.”

MINISTER ADDRESSES FUW LAND USE COMMITTEE

[caption id="attachment_4196" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Minister address FUW land use committee – from left, Richard Vaughan, FUW deputy president Emyr Jones, David Jones, President Gareth Vaughan Minister address FUW land use committee – from left, Richard Vaughan, FUW deputy president Emyr Jones, David Jones, President Gareth Vaughan[/caption]

The Farmers’ Union of Wales’ land use and parliamentary committee today had a full and frank discussion with parliamentary under secretary for Wales David Jones about concerns over the UK government position on the CAP reform and other rural issues.

Committee chairman Richard Vaughan said: “We had far-ranging discussion with the Minister which included concern at the UK Government’s position on the CAP, the impact of fuel duty on rural areas, the need for Broadband to be rolled throughout Wales and the power of the supermarkets.

“It is vital that the government carefully assesses the impact any monetary policy has on the rural economy as costs are generally higher in rural areas.”

On the proposed CAP reforms, Mr Vaughan added: “If the government wishes to address food security, it must ensure fair returns for farmers, either through the CAP, or from the markets and needs to tackle the imbalance of power in the supply chain.

"Failure to recognise this will decimate our food security and lead to massive social, economic, and environmental upheaval,” added Mr Vaughan.

FSA PLANS COULD CLOSE MAJORITY OF WELSH ABATTOIRS,SAYS FUW

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, the Farmers' Union of Wales fears.

The union has consulted its 12 county branches on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) move towards the full cost recovery of meat hygiene controls at slaughterhouses and found members unanimously objected to the proposals.

"There seems little doubt that the proposals will make a significant number of small and medium-sized slaughterhouses uneconomical to run as many premises estimate large increases in inspection costs," said FUW president Gareth Vaughan.

"This would result in the closure of a significant number - possibly the majority - of Welsh premises."

FUW staff have also approached slaughterhouse owners within their regions and the majority stated that if the new charging regime is introduced their businesses would be seriously threatened.

"The union has also contacted a number of slaughter industry representatives and the majority believe the proposals, if adopted, could lead to most Welsh slaughterhouses becoming uneconomical," Mr Vaughan said.

The union stressed - in its response to the FSA's consultation on the proposals - that the slaughterhouses most threatened by the proposals are those which supply independent meat outlets, such as butchers, and their closure will therefore severely undermine those outlets.

"It is estimated over 50% of cattle, 70% of sheep, 25% of pigs and 40% of poultry are slaughtered in independent, small and medium sized plants,” said Mr Vaughan.

"The proposals will undermine independent businesses and play straight into the hands of the major supermarkets, which are already too dominant over the supply chain.”

He added that farmers throughout Wales had been encouraged by Government to diversify into supplying niche and organic markets that rely on the local slaughtering of animals.

"Many of those who buy from local butchers do so because the meat they are buying is locally produced and slaughtered, and has travelled minimum distances,” said Mr Vaughan. “The closure of small and medium sized plants will therefore severely undermine these markets.

"The closure of slaughterhouses will increase the carbon footprint of meat produced and marketed in Wales, which is in direct contradiction to Government policies.

"The proposals represent a significant threat to rural employment, both in terms of those employed in slaughterhouses, and those who work in related premises such as butcher’s shops."

The union's response added that during the 2001 Foot and Mouth disease outbreak, local slaughterhouses played a crucial role in reducing the risk of the disease spreading by ensuring animals didn't have to travel significant distances to slaughter.

"They also played an important role in providing premises where animals could be locally slaughtered," the submission stressed.

“The closure of such premises would undermine the future contribution of the slaughter industry to disease control and animal welfare.”

In conclusion, the union’s response advocated a reduction in the regulatory requirements leading to proportionate inspections, coupled with an efficient regime, the recognition that it is inequitable to ask the industry to pay for unreasonable overheads, and a return to headage charges as a means by which to “significantly mitigate the catastrophic consequences of what is proposed”.

CUP IN MEMORY OF FUW LIFE MEMBER

[caption id="attachment_4191" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Gwynfe show presidents Hugh and Mary Davies flank Ian Rickman - left - and Gwynfe show chairman Steve Jones Gwynfe show presidents Hugh and Mary Davies flank Ian Rickman - left - and Gwynfe show chairman Steve Jones[/caption]

Farmers' Union of Wales life member John Price FRAgS, who died last summer, will be remembered every year when a cup presented by the union's county branch in his memory will be awarded at Gwynfe Show in Carmarthenshire.

Mr Price, of Ddafadfa Isaf, Gwynfe, near Llangadog, was chairman of the show when he died, aged 72, at Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen, on Tuesday July 6 2010.

He ran a 144-acre hill farm where he kept beef cattle and sheep and rented 66 acres of land with grazing rights on the Black Mountain.

After leaving school in 1953, he worked on the family farm with his late father until 1968 when he went to assist with the running of the Earl of Ducie's estate in South Gloucestershire. He returned to Ddafadfa Isaf in 1981.

After serving as club chairman of Gwynfe YFC in 1960 and secretary of the East Carmarthen Lamb Group, he started taking part in FUW activities in 1983 when he became Carmarthenshire county delegate on the union's national livestock, wool and marts committee and maintained regular attendance until his death.

He was the committee's chairman from 1991 to 1996, Carmarthenshire county executive committee vice chairman and chairman from 1989 to 1993 and county president from 1993 to 1995.

Between 1993 and 2004 he represented Carmarthenshire on the South Wales regional committee of the British Wool Marketing Board and served as its chairman in 1994-95. From 1991 to 2002 he was a member of the National Sheep Association's Wales committee.

He was chairman of Gwynfe Show committee twice (1997-1998 and 2003 until he died). In 2003 he was made an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies (ARAgS) for his contribution to farming and the rural community and became a Fellow in 2008.

He was made an FUW life member in 2007. During a recent function when the memorial cup was handed over, FUW county chairman Ian Rickman said John was a strong supporter of Gwynfe Show, having been chairman and a member of the committee for many years.

"For this reason the FUW decided to donate this cup in his memory to Gwynfe Show."

FUW ASKS IS IT YES OR NO?

Carmarthenshire farmers will hear the case for and against whether the Welsh Assembly should gain more law-making powers on Monday evening, February 7, at a meeting of the Farmers' Union of Wales county executive committee at the Railway Hotel, Nantgaredig, starting at 7.30pm.

Speaking on behalf of the "Yes" campaign is Carmarthen property agent Selwyn Runnett and speaking for the "True Wales No" campaign will be farmer James Powell, of Llangynidr, Crickhowell.

The national referendum on the issue will take place on Thursday, March 3.

PIG BREEDERS BACK FUW LOCAL FOOD CAMPAIGN

[caption id="attachment_4182" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Joyce and Gerallt with one of their Welsh pigs which won the class for a pork pig 55kg to 65 kg and then went on to win the overall supreme single champion at the 2007 Royal Welsh Winter Fair. Joyce and Gerallt with one of their Welsh pigs which won the class for a pork pig 55kg to 65 kg and then went on to win the overall supreme single champion at the 2007 Royal Welsh Winter Fair.[/caption]

A Carmarthenshire couple well known for breeding prize-winning Welsh pigs has found a ready market for their pork on the doorstep.

Joyce and Gerallt Owens of Lletty Farm, Llannon, near Llanelli, have been farming pigs for well over 20 years on their 65-acre farm but only started supplying a local farm shop and grill at Cwmcerrig, Gorslas, seven miles away after it opened early in February 2009.

"We now supply pork to Cwmcerrig fortnightly as we both enthusiastically support the Farmers' Union of Wales' long-running 'Help Cut Food Miles - Buy The Welsh One' awareness campaign," said Mrs Owens, who also works as an administrative assistant at the union's county branch office in Carmarthen.

"We usually supply around four to six pigs every two weeks to the farm shop but over the Christmas period, that figure more than doubles to 15 pigs. We are very happy with the steady flow and hope to keep this going for quite a while," added Mrs Owens.

The couple's enthusiasm for breeding and showing pigs has a long family history. She said: "We met first of all through my parents keeping pigs and taking sows to Gerallt's home for service to the boar.

"Eventually we got together through the YFC dances - but the love of pigs did start the ball rolling."

The couple received two Welsh pedigree sows from Gerallt's father after they got married and they started competing at shows soon afterwards.

Previously Mr Owens and his father had been exhibiting pigs for many years. Gerallt was seven when he started showing at the Royal Welsh Show and he and Joyce have also exhibited at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair every year since it started.

They have won numerous championships and prizes at both events and many other local shows.

In addition to the 100 weaners and porkers, including 12 sows and two bores they currently keep they also have 200 sheep and three suckler cows on the farm.

The pigs are taken just 16 miles to be slaughtered at the family run abattoir of Hugh Phillips, Gower Butcher, Wern Fabian Farm, Llanmorlais, near Swansea, after they reach a live weight of about 60 to 65 kg at roughly 16 weeks of age.

FUW TRAINING DAY FOR MOBILE PHONE USERS

A training day for Anglesey farmers on the use of mobile phones in a bid to help them quickly report suspicious happenings on their farms has been organised by the Farmers’ Union of Wales county branch.

Arranged in conjunction with a Farm Watch initiative, the two courses for FUW members will take place at Llangefni fire station's community at 2pm and 7.30pm on Thursday February 17.

"It is very important that farmers know how to fully use a mobile phone in conjunction with a Farm Watch initiative where the art of texting will be paramount," said FUW's Anglesey county executive officer Heidi Williams.

"Farmers need to step up a gear when it comes to using a mobile phone and I know that many of our members only know the basics such as making and receiving phone calls."

The training is free and any members will need to register beforehand. For further information contact Heidi Williams on 01248 750250.

UK FARM MINISTER DENIES EARLY HALT TO CAP PAYMENTS

Claims that the UK's Coalition Government wants an early end to direct payments to farmers following the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were "complete nonsense", Agriculture Minister Jim Paice has told a Farmers' Union of Wales lunch at the House of Lords.

"There are some stories about that we want to see the end of direct payments, as if by tomorrow," Mr Paice said at the union's annual function to promote Welsh food during Farmhouse Breakfast Week.

"That is complete nonsense and an absurd proposition. Farming couldn't survive without direct payments but we need to be more ambitious in the future and I hope that when we publish our proposals we will be suggesting a long, long transition from the current CAP system."

Earlier, Mr Paice acknowledged the devolved Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments had already called for the retention of direct payments and market support measures in their responses to the EC's consultation on CAP reform.

"In some cases their responses are different from Defra's but we do agree in many more areas. When we put together our final response next week it will include views that are very different from what the Press has been saying.

"All the projections show that we are going to need more and more food. Only this week the UK Government's chief scientist published a report - which is quite shocking - of a vision he sets out of our food requirements over the coming years."

The lunch was sponsored by Welsh red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), the Welsh Assembly Government and NatWest Rural Banking Wales.

HCC chairman Dai Davies told the gathering of Welsh peers, MPs and rural business organisations that farmers are facing an all out assault from the 'Three Fs' - feed, fertiliser and fuel.

"Inflation for everyone has risen substantially recently, but farmers have seen major inflation increases that are well into double figures over the last 12 months.

"Despite the current buoyant market prices for lamb, the average Welsh farmer is still only marginally covering his costs of production. This is largely due to the fact that the price of the 'Three Fs' has sky rocketed."

Mr Davies revealed that fertiliser costs had gone up by up to 25 per cent in some cases over the last year, with some producers reporting paying £350 a tonne in January compared with £290 a tonne at the same time last year.

The worldwide demand for wheat has also impacted on feed costs, which are on average 25 per cent higher than at the same time last year. Many are now paying around £230 a tonne for feed compared with £180 last January.

And while motorists and hauliers are feeling the pinch at the pumps, farmers have also seen a dramatic rise in the cost of red diesel, up by a third from 54p a litre last year to 75p a litre now.

"Day to day costs for farmers in Wales have shot up and only sustainable prices at the markets will help offset these huge rises in commodity prices," said Mr Davies.

"HCC is encouraging farmers to examine all their costs to see if there are any areas where they can make savings, and also to use their resources in the most effective way possible in order to create a business that runs as efficiently as possible.

"The whole industry is feeling the pressure from the increase in fuel costs, but with farmers also struggling with the rise in fertiliser and feed, it is essential that the prices received at the markets remain strong."

UNION OPENS NEW MART PREMISES

NEW Farmers' Union of Wales premises at Dolgellau livestock market have been officially opened by the union's president Gareth Vaughan following months of renovating and re-decorating.

The work also involved obtaining an electricity connection for light and a telephone connection with internet broadband facility so that the union's local area officers can access various insurance companies.

"Establishing a secure unit for the FUW at the market is a great new development for the union's Meirionnydd branch," said Mr Vaughan. "It is easily accessible and no doubt will be extremely useful for FUW members and insurance policy holders who visit the market, especially as it has use of broadband internet."

FUW director of business development Emyr James said: "The union is continuously striving to improve its services to members and an office at Dolgellau mart demonstrates this commitment.

"We are extremely grateful to Dyfrig Siencyn and staff at auctioneers Farmers Marts for their assistance and co-operation in organising this modern presence at the market," added Mr James.

FUW CONCERNS OVER WAG OFFICE FUTURE

The Farmers' Union of Wales today expressed concerns over the future of the Welsh Assembly Government offices at Dolgellau.

The union's Meirionnydd county executive officer Huw Jones has written to the head of WAG's Caernarfon office stating members are "profoundly concerned and disappointed" to hear that questions are being raised about the future of this office.

"This office is of immense importance to farmers in Meirionnydd and any indication that there is a question as to the future presence of WAG in Dolgellau is of tremendous concern and worry," he added.

"The vast majority of farmers in Meirionnydd use this office at some time or other, particularly during submission of Single Application Forms, with the office being open every day in the two weeks leading up to the middle of May each year.

"It is vitally important that farmers are able to present their SAF form at a local office, whereby they will obtain a receipt rather than take the risk of sending the form to the Welsh Assembly Government using the postal system."

Farmers use the office regularly throughout the year as they deal with all farming queries and it is an important focal point to discuss queries, resolve any problems and deliver correspondence.

The Meirionnydd branch has asked the Welsh Assembly Government to consider other options so that farmers in the area may still obtain a local service from WAG.

FUW MEMBERS LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

The theme for the Farmers' Union of Wales Meirionnydd county branch annual general meeting "Sustainable countryside for the next decade" will give members an opportunity to look at the current state of the agricultural industry and consider its future direction.

The meeting will take place on Friday evening January 28 (7.30pm) at the Ship Hotel, Dolgellau, and the speakers will include Countryside Council for Wales chairman Morgan Parry, Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb and HSBC Bank senior agricultural manager Bryn Edmunds.

FUW county executive officer Huw Jones will also present a short report of the branch's activities during 2010 at the start of the meeting.

"I will be taking the opportunity to thank all members of staff, county officials and members for their support and co?operation for what was a very busy year.  We are expecting a strong representation from all parts of Meirionnydd," said Mr Jones.

FUW CALLS FOR EARLY INTRODUCTION OF FUEL STABILISER

The Farmers' Union of Wales today urged the Chancellor to scrap his plans for a fuel duty hike in April and demanded that the Coalition government introduces a fuel stabiliser scheme without further delay.

The current surge in inflation, plus the fuel duty rise the Chancellor is committed to introducing, will mean Welsh rural communities could see prices rise by an extra five pence per litre (ppl) or almost 23p per gallon at the pumps.

Prices for unleaded petrol across Wales are already reported to be running at £1.32ppl and up to five pence more for diesel.

"In view of the acute and growing pressure that rises in fuel prices represent for rural businesses, not to mention businesses across the UK, I believe that we have reached a critical point at which action must be taken to significantly reduce fuel tax in order to aid the economy," said FUW president Gareth Vaughan.

"The union is very much in favour of an early introduction of a 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, the added fuel duty coupled with rising oil prices will be devastating to rural communities all over the UK.

"The FUW understands that nothing can be done about the soaring price of crude oil on the international market but the high level of tax imposed on fuel in the UK, compared to every other country in the world, is crippling individuals and businesses alike and threatens to strangle the life out of the rural economy.

"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 DEVOLVED MINISTERS’ CAP REFORM STATEMENTS

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed statements by Assembly rural affairs minister Elin Jones and her Scottish and Northern Irish counterparts which are broadly supportive of the union’s views on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

During the FUW’s quarterly council meeting today, FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: “I commend our own Minister and the Scottish and Northern Irish administrations for recognising the importance of the CAP to our respective countries and for arguing in favour of a fair and proportionate share of the budget, flexibility to respond to specific local needs, and a reduction in bureaucracy.

“There are, no doubt, detailed areas relating to the CAP where there may be disagreement, but I am glad that the policies of the FUW and the devolved administrations are in broad agreement regarding the overarching principles.”

Mr Vaughan was reacting to a joint statement by the devolved administrations which highlights the importance of agriculture in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and calls on the UK Government to engage with the devolved administrations in order to develop an agreed UK negotiating position reflecting the different interests across all areas of the UK.

The statement also called for the retention of direct payments and market support measures, and a fairer share of EU Pillar 2 funding.

“I believe that the CAP should be viewed as a tailor-made toolbox with which we can address the challenges that growing populations, climate change, rising sea levels and peak oil production represent to European food security,” said Mr Vaughan.

“These challenges are imminent and will significantly affect future generations. Farming families lie at the heart of finding a solution to these challenges, and this is something which the various Celtic administrations have clearly recognised,” he added.

FUW LEADER ISSUES FOOD SECURITY WARNING FOLLOWING RIOTS, FLOODS AND DROUGHT

The devastating effects of this week's riots in Tunisia, the floods currently ravaging the planet and last summer's fire and drought in Russian are a stark warning that food security remains a major concern, Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan said today (Tuesday January 18).

"Soon after last summer's catastrophic fire and drought-ravaged Russian grain harvest Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned its effect would be much worse than previously forecast," Mr Vaughan told the union's annual Welsh farmhouse breakfast at the National Assembly Senedd building.

The FUW organises the function, sponsored by Hybu Cig Cymru, NatWest Rural Banking Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government, to support of the Home Grown Cereals Authority's "Farmhouse Breakfast Week" initiative.

"Sri Lanka is also facing a deepening food crisis after last week's floods decimated crops at a time of high prices and left a quarter of the country under water," Mr Vaughan added.

"Mr Putin revealed the Russian harvest was expected to plummet to 60 million tonnes from the previous forecast of 75 million tonnes which resulted in an increase of wheat prices by 25 per cent.

"And now official estimates say Sri Lanka is in danger of losing as much as 20 per cent of its harvest from the torrential rains.

"So as we tuck into our Welsh breakfast today, let's remember that the fortunes of Welsh farming over the coming year will depend on a range of influences which are as impossible to predict as the weather.

"At the same time we must all strive to avoid a similar scenario to what is happening in Tunisia where violence has spiralled out of control and the death toll reached 23 after people took to the streets to protest about the increasing difficulty of trying to put food on the table and government corruption.

"The protesters there were very unhappy about rising food and fuel prices and the question is now being asked - will the southern Mediterranean region see more food riots?

"The Tunisian violence followed hot on the heels of unrest throughout the region due to rising food prices and youth unemployment.

"In Algeria, protests also broke out earlier this month over price hikes in sugar, milk and flour and resulted in the death of five people.

"So I want to stress that here in Wales we must never forget that farming is an industry for which decisions made now can take years to take effect.

"2011 is a year in which critical decisions regarding the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, and therefore all of our fortunes, will be made at the highest level.

"The EU Commission has already made it clear that food security remains a priority, but the coming months will require lobbying at all levels to fight for a policy which properly reflects the essential role that family farms play in maintaining food production and the fabric of our rural communities."

FUW MEETINGS TO HEAR GRASS ROOTS VIEWS

Three meetings will be held in Carmarthenshire by the Farmers' Union of Wales to hear the grass roots views of members.

The union's East Carmarthenshire sub-branch will meet on Tuesday January 25 at Llangadog Rugby Club when guest speaker, Telesgôôp executive director Richard Rees, will talk about the production and preparation of television programmes.

At a meeting of the North Carmarthenshire sub-branch, on Thursday January 27 at the Black Lion, Abergorlech, county vice chairman Dr Catherine Nakielny will speak about sheep health production.

Manager of the Dairy Development Centre at Gelli Aur, John Griffiths, will address the South Carmarthenshire sub-branch on Tuesday February 1 on the work of the centre at the Greyhound, Llannon, Llanelli.

"Attendance at these meetings, where members can present their views as the grass roots of the industry, is vitally important. Their contributions will assist the union to represent, fight and safeguard their interest more effectively in the future," said FUW county executive officer Meinir Bartlett.

For more details about the meetings contact Mrs Bartlett on 01267 237 974.

FUW LEADER TO ADDRESS GLAMORGAN DINNER

Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan - who intends to step down at the end of his seventh presidential year this summer - will be the guest speaker at the annual dinner of the union's Glamorgan branch at The Masons Arms Hotel, Bryncethin, Bridgend, on Thursday February 10.

"I am sure Gareth will have many amusing incidents to recall from his seven years in the role. Join us to make sure we give him a warm send off," said county executive officer Adrian Evans.

During the dinner the Walter G Rowlands Memorial Award will be presented to a worthy recipient. Mr Rowlands was the union's Glamorgan county secretary when he died in service in 1986.

UK GOVERNMENT PLANS WOULD DEVASTATE FARMING, SAYS FUW LEADER

The Coalition Government's plans for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would devastate the majority of farm businesses in the UK and completely undermine food security, Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan warned today.

Mr Vaughan was responding to a speech by Defra secretary of state Caroline Spelman made at the recent Oxford Farming Conference in which she proposed radical changes to the Common Agricultural Policy.

In a letter, he told her: "In the absence of significant moves to ensure fair returns from the market place, reform of the CAP in the way you have proposed would devastate the majority of farm businesses in Wales and throughout the UK, while completely undermining our food security.

"Such concerns are highlighted in a range of academic reports, most notably those published by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), many of which were commissioned by what is now your department.

"While I appreciate that you have sought to distinguish your policy from that of the previous administration, there appears to me to be relatively little difference between the broad thrusts of either policy, and the conclusions reached by FAPRI would therefore appear to remain valid."

Mr Vaughan also highlighted the possible impacts of Defra's proposals based upon academic research, including a decline in UK food production and rural employment, increased price volatility and dramatic consequences for the Welsh beef and sheep sectors.

The letter outlined nine broad points which, the FUW believes, should underpin the future policy.

They included maintaining support until mechanisms are in place which ensure fair returns for producers, supporting the CAP and its core objectives to ensure the availability of agricultural produce and a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, and recognition of the CAP as a mechanism by which the major environmental and food production challenges of our age can be addressed.

Mr Vaughan has also issued a stark warning regarding the impact of the proposals on the uplands and farming families. "I have grave concerns that, if current UK Government proposals were adopted, this would lead to a situation whereby the majority of the uplands were abandoned, while on more productive land those who are currently farmers would become low-paid employees on vast farms owned by the equivalent of multi-national companies.

"There should be a system in place which ensures farmers receive fair incomes from the marketplace but until that becomes a reality it would be negligent for us to adopt a policy which, numerous reports have warned, would devastate food production and our rural communities at a time when the experts are warning us of impending energy, water and food shortages," he added.

FUW HAILS FOOD 2030 DOCUMENT BUT FEARS FOR FUTURE OF CAP

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed the UK Government's latest vision for food production outlined at this week's Oxford Farming Conference but it also expressed strong opposition to the government's determination to abandon the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Food 2030, launched during the conference by UK environment, food and rural affairs secretary Hilary Benn, sets out the government's view of food production in 20 years time.

"The FUW welcomes the fact that the UK Government has recognised the importance of food production and agriculture, and agrees with many of the broad principles laid out in the document. However, we are fundamentally opposed to the abandonment of the very framework which was designed to address food production and security issues, namely the CAP," said the union's president Gareth Vaughan.

"The Food 2030 document continues to advocate Defra's 2005 Vision for the Agricultural Policy which, their own research shows, would devastate UK agriculture and rural communities, increase food miles, and undermine food security by increasing food importation.

"While many of the principles outlined in the Food 2030 document are commendable, none of them appear to be robust enough to mitigate the devastating impact of abandoning the CAP.

"In fact, the document actually criticises the CAP for resulting in 'higher prices for farmers', which makes any talk about wanting profitable farms seem hollow.

"The FUW is fundamentally opposed to abandoning the CAP framework, which was specifically designed to address many of the problems referred to in the Food 2030 document.

"Rather, we believe that the CAP needs to be looked at in the context of an excellent starting point for developing policies that will address food security, environment and climate change concerns."

CHANGE MORNING ROUTINE WITH A WELSH BREAKFAST, SAYS FUW

The Farmers' Union of Wales is reminding people that "It’s time to Shake Up Your Wake Up" by getting involved with Farmhouse Breakfast Week which takes place this year from January 23-29.

The FUW is a keen supporter of Farmhouse Breakfast Week - an annual campaign run by the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) since 2000. With one in four people regularly skipping breakfast, HGCA are challenging the nation to re-evaluate their morning routine.

Their campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast and demonstrate the variety of food on offer.

"Wales is renowned for the quality and freshness of its food and during the next few weeks I am really looking forward to showing off the best of our produce at centres of Government in Wales, Westminster and Brussels," said FUW President Gareth Vaughan.

The union's annual Welsh farmhouse breakfasts this year will take place at the National Assembly's Senedd building on Tuesday January 18, the House of Lords on Tuesday January 25 and the EC headquarters early next month.

And, for the second year running, the union's Caernarfonshire branch has also organised a series of Welsh breakfasts on five members' farms and at the Bryncir Mart cafe.

They will take place on January 24 at T?’n Hendre, Talybont, Bangor (tel: 01248 362 871); January 25 at Henblas, Dinas, Llanwnda (01286 830 459); January 26 at Plas Newydd, Llwyndyrys (01758 750 656); January 27 at Gwyndy, Tudweiliog (01758 770 274); and on January 28 at Dylasau Uchaf, Padog, Betws y Coed (01690 770 215) and Cegin Ann, Bryncir Livestock Auction Centre (01766 530 828).

"We’re sending invitations to all our members in the Caernarfonshire area who are more than welcome to bring along anyone with them to any of these local events," said FUW's Caernarfonshire county chairman Morgan Jones-Parry.

"Pre-booking a time slot is advisable. We will also be inviting local AMs, MPs, councillors, representatives of the Welsh Assembly Civil Service, Gwynedd Council staff, Snowdonia National Park, local schools and other establishments and anyone else we can think of.

"Local shops very kindly donated all produce free of charge last year and we hope for the same support this year. We will be charging £10 each for a full, cooked breakfast which will also include cereals, fruit juice, toast, tea and coffee.

"All proceeds will be split this year between the Wales Air Ambulance, which is the FUW President's chosen charity, and the Caernarfonshire fund for sponsoring this year's Royal Welsh Show," added Mr Jones-Parry.

MBE FOR FUW PRESIDENT

Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan receives the MBE in the New Year Honours List for services to agriculture.

He said: "I am proud to accept this honour on behalf of all staff within the union who carry out such dedicated work. I am merely the figurehead and I must pay tribute to all those hard-working people."

Mr Vaughan said he owed a great deal to Llangurig YFC, which he joined after leaving school at 15, and the FUW, both of which "have been there for me" after "wasting so much of my school days".

"I owe a great deal to the union and to the YFC for the influences and experiences I have gained from being members of both organisations which made a great impression on me.

"The YFC, with its varied weekly programme of events, its support group of advisory members and club leaders, and the encouragement to develop our strengths at every opportunity, impressed me greatly.

"Within the FUW I've been very fortunate to have the support of some top-class staff who can be totally relied on at all times. I also offer many thanks to my family who have looked after things at home to allow me the time to spend on union work."

Mr Vaughan runs a traditional beef and sheep unit at Cwmyrhiewdre Farm, Dolfor, near Newtown, in partnership with his wife of over 40 years, Audrey, and 12 years ago his daughter Catherine and son-in-law Brian joined the business.

Born in Llanidloes in 1941, Mr Vaughan attended Manledd Primary and Llanidloes High Schools. He has been an active member of the FUW for many years and president for over seven years.

He was chairman of the Newtown branch in 1988-89 and Montgomeryshire county chairman from 1991-93 and has also represented the county on the union's grand council and land use and parliamentary committee, the British Wool Marketing Board, the Meat and Livestock Commission liaison committee and the Agricultural Dwellinghouse Committee.

He was elected as the north Wales member of the FUW's national finance and organisation committee in 1998 before being elected vice president in 2000, deputy president in June 2002 and president in June 2003.

CAP FUTURE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR 2011, SAYS FUW LEADER

[caption id="attachment_5039" align="aligncenter" width="140"]Gareth Vaughan Gareth Vaughan[/caption]

By far the most important issue in 2011 will be the decisions made over the future of the Common Agricultural Policy which will affect farm businesses across the EU, said Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan in his New Year message.

"When the last major changes to the CAP took place in 2005, we were told that decoupling should prompt us to respond to markets. Since then, the industry has done just that - we have worked out the margins, decided that the market does not reward us fairly for our hard work and consequently production has fallen dramatically.

"This pattern, which is replicated across Europe, sends out a clear message to Brussels: if they value Europe's food security, they must ensure fair incomes for farmers, either through the CAP, or by ensuring fair returns from markets and tackling the imbalance of power in the supply chain.

"Failure to recognise this will decimate our food security and lead to massive social, economic, and environmental upheaval, all at a time when the concerning issues of peak oil and peak food should be a major concern for every person in the European Union.

"Over the coming months the FUW will do all it can raise awareness of this reality and the need for a post-2013 CAP which supports Welsh family farms."

Mr Vaughan said farmers throughout Wales are struggling to keep on top of all the work and worry the heavy snow has brought and, despite all the beautiful scenes which now surround us, they are all praying for a let up in the weather.

"As a Union we have to choose our battles carefully, and while controlling the weather is sadly not one we can win, anyone who is up to date with farming news will be able to guess what battles do lie ahead in 2011.

"Foremost in many people's minds is the prickly issue of the Glastir agri-environment scheme and the Minister's decision to extend the Tir Mynydd scheme by 12 months - something we called for in November 2009 - is a welcome move.

"However, the Assembly must now start properly listening to our concerns and make the scheme criteria as accessible and acceptable to farmers as possible.

"Then there is the issue of bovine TB, and the desperate need for a proportionate approach to be taken towards tackling the disease in both cattle and badgers.

"With farms throughout Wales faced with the huge burden of extra testing, there is a real need to revisit the current pre-movement testing regime.

"I believe it is regrettable that we were the only farming organisation which objected to the introduction of pre-movement testing in low or zero incidence areas - a view based upon analyses of herd breakdowns which showed incidence levels in parts of Wales to be lower than in Scotland, a country which is officially bTB Free and has no pre-movement testing requirement.

"In light of the impact of such extra testing, action must be taken to deal with the wildlife reservoir otherwise further attempts to control the disease in cattle are futile.

"The Assembly must therefore push on with its plans to tackle the disease in badgers in north Pembrokeshire, with a view to expanding such action to other areas where badgers are known to carry the disease.

"Other issues of concern in 2011 will include the completely unacceptable plans to transfer the costs of overly burdensome meat hygiene rules to the industry, and the ongoing impact of supermarket power - issues regarding which the FUW is committed to

FUW PROVES BADGER CAMPAIGNERS MISLED PUBLIC

Claims in newspaper advertisements placed by Save the Badger - a campaigning organisation run by charity Secret World Wildlife Rescue - have been ruled as being untrue and unsubstantiated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), following a complaint by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

The advertisements, published in May this year, encouraged members of the general public to oppose badger culling, and called on them to write to the Welsh Assembly Government and the Rural Affairs Minister opposing plans to cull badgers in north Pembrokeshire.

But the ASA ruled that claims made in the advertisements repeatedly breached Truthfulness, Substantiation, and Matters of Opinion codes. The advertisements breached ASA codes a total of nine times.

Save the Badger is affiliated with Somerset-based charity Secret World Wildlife Rescue, which specialises in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild animals. Patrons of the charity include wildlife film maker Simon King and novelist Jilly Cooper.

"Once again, a campaigning group has been found guilty of misleading the general public regarding the issue of badger culling," said FUW bTB spokesman and vice president Brian Walters.

"This ruling clearly shows that Save the Badger is either incapable of understanding basic scientific principles regarding badgers and bTB, or that they are prepared to mislead the general public in order to try and stop badger culling going ahead.

"Whichever is true, they have shown utter contempt for the people of Wales, and are likely to have misled thousands of people into campaigning against badger culling based on their false propaganda."

The advert claimed that WAG’s proposed badger cull had "no scientific justification", would "exterminate a native breeding species", and that "young (badger) cubs will starve underground", all three of which were ruled by the ASA as breeching Truthfulness, Substantiation, and Matters of Opinion codes.

"Badger culling reduces bTB in cattle, and is scientifically justified. The badger organisations may not like it, but that doesn’t give them the right to lie to the general public," said Mr Walters.

"Save the Badger should now issue a public apology to the people of Wales, admit that culling is the only tried and tested way of reducing TB in cattle in areas where badgers carry the disease, and admit that culling will only reduce badger numbers, not eradicate them."

Regarding a claim in the advert that "Killing badgers does not work", the ASA ruled that the claim was likely to be understood by the public as a reflection of the advertiser’s subjective view, but that it was not capable of "objective substantiation".

The statement was ruled not to have been misleading as it was clearly an expression of Save the Badger’s opinion.
"We have no problem with Save the Badger expressing their opinion, and accept the ASA’s ruling on this point," said Mr Walters.

?FUW SURVEY SHOWS NEED TO RAISE JOHNE’S AWARENESS

The importance of raising awareness of Johne’s disease in cattle was highlighted by FUW senior policy officer Hazel Wright during a talk she gave in London to the Dairy UK-led "Action Group for Johne's".

According to a survey designed by Dr Wright and issued to FUW members, the three top factors which hinder farmers from participating in Johne's control and surveillance programmes are that they believe the disease is not an issue on their farm, they are unaware of the information available and are concerned about the cost of becoming involved in Johne's programmes.

The survey showed that while more than 70 per cent of FUW members responding to the survey believed Johne's disease was not an issue on their farm, less than 32 per cent actually knew their Johne's disease status at the time of answering the questionnaire.

Dr Wright emphasised that the result of the survey demonstrated that it remains important to increase industry awareness about this disease as cattle may be infected without showing any clinical signs and such "apparently healthy" animals represent an infection risk to other herd members.

"Given the serious consequences of the disease, I designed the questionnaire to determine why farmers weren't getting involved in Johne's programmes," Dr Wright added. "The Action Group for Johne's is using this information to try and engage more farmers."

Clinical signs of Johne's disease are not specific to Johne's and include rapid weight loss and diarrhoea which can lead to cattle being culled for other reasons such as infertility or lameness.

"This means that the true prevalence of Johne's disease in the Welsh and UK herd is unknown, although estimates range from 35-70 per cent. While virtually all animals are infected in the first months of life, signs of the disease usually do not appear until the animals are adults," said Dr Wright.

FUW WELCOMES NEW HOLIDAY LET RULES

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today hailed the new special tax rules for Furnished Holiday Lets to be included in the 2011 Finance Bill as a step in the right direction.

However, the union believes that the changes to occupancy rates and the way loss relief is applied could adversely affect some accommodation providers in Wales.

The union welcomed the new Government’s decision to retain the special tax rules following intensive lobbying but, during a recent consultation, it highlighted the proposed changes to the criteria relating to the length of time a property is actually let, coupled with changes to loss relief, would disproportionately affect Welsh businesses offering holiday accommodation.

Chairman for the union’s farm diversification committee Deilwen Breese said: "Under the new rules the minimum period which a property is actually let will rise from 70 to 105 days.

"Given the impact of the current economic climate on visitor numbers we fear that some furnished holiday let accommodation providers could have difficulty meeting the increased letting requirements, especially in areas of Wales were there are limited opportunities to extend the tourism season.

"However, we welcome the Treasury’s flexibility which would allow businesses which meet the revised occupancy threshold in one year to elect to be treated as having met it in the two following years, providing certain criteria are met.

"This will mean that those businesses whose occupancy rate is affected by circumstances beyond their control, such as the extreme weather conditions currently being experienced across Wales, will still be eligible to qualify for these special tax rules.

"We are also pleased that the union’s lobbying for the retention of the current capital allowances and a capital gains tax relief has been successful."

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/