SUPERMARKETS MUST TAKE NOTICE OF ASDA PROTESTS, SAYS FUW

Protests by hundreds of farmers at Asda depots across the UK highlight the need for retailers to behave responsibly or face the threat of further action, says the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

The protests, which were coordinated by Farmers For Action in response to milk discounting by the major retailer, took place at depots in Grangemouth, Skelmersdale, and Chepstow, and prompted Asda to take out a Court Injunction against FFA.

“We are assured that FFA has complied with the law and with the terms of the injunction, and producers have every right to protest peacefully against this type of behaviour by the retailers,” said FUW dairy committee chairman Eifion Huws.

But while the protests relate primarily to the issue of milk discounting - which inevitably leads to downward pressure on farmgate milk prices - they highlight a broader need for the retailers to behave responsibly towards their suppliers, and the possibly consequences of not doing so, says Mr Huws.

“The major retailers exert massive downwards pressure on the farmgate prices received by all primary producers, making farming and food production less viable, and reducing the incomes of farming families.

“In the absence of government moves to ensure equality throughout the supply chain, those whose incomes are threatened by the retailers will feel they have no alternative but to protest, as has happened in this case.

“Over the past few weeks we have also heard of retailers severely penalising some vegetable producers due to problems caused by the bad weather. Given the grief and losses that such weather already causes for farm businesses, in my mind that amounts to kicking a man when he is down.
“While other businesses reel from the impact of recession and cutbacks, the profits of the major retailers seem to know no bounds, highlighting the overwhelming imbalance of power within the supply chain."

FUW HAILS TIR MYNYDD PAYMENT PROMISE

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed the rural affairs minister Elin Jones' announcement that she will make a full Tir Mynydd payment in 2012.

The minister first revealed her plans at a meeting yesterday with union officials.

Chairman of the FUW's land use and parliamentary committee Richard Vaughan said: “The meeting was held to discuss the next steps forward for Glastir and today’s announcement follows months of lobbying by the union and will give those farmers who have not applied for Glastir this year a bit of added financial security.

“It was a very productive meeting and we hope that the work of the independent panel, coupled with today’s announcement, will prove to be a major step forward.”

At the meeting, the Minister announced that she had decided that all eligible Tir Mynydd farmers will receive 100% of the payment rate per eligible hectare in 2012. This will include Tir Mynydd farmers who will enter Glastir in 2012.

The union will continue to lobby for further transitional arrangements for 2013.

There will be no further Tir Mynydd payments after this.

The change will result in an increased payment to Tir Mynydd farmers and the industry of approximately £2.5m.

FUW CHARITY DINNER RAISES £2,660

[caption id="attachment_5025" align="aligncenter" width="300"]From left, RABI Wales welfare officer Erys Hughes, RABI county chairman Mansel Charles, RABI county president Elfryn Daniels, FUW county chairman Ian Rickman and FUW county executive officer Meinir Bartlett. From left, RABI Wales welfare officer Erys Hughes, RABI county chairman Mansel Charles, RABI county president Elfryn Daniels, FUW county chairman Ian Rickman and FUW county executive officer Meinir Bartlett.[/caption]

A sum of £2,660 was raised at an auction of sporting memorabilia and agricultural products plus a raffle during a fund-raising dinner at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, organised by the FUW's Carmarthenshire branch to celebrate the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution's (RABI) 150th anniversary.

Guest speakers at the dinner were First Minister Carwyn Jones and Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones. Proceeds of the auction and raffle run by the MC for the evening, former Welsh rugby international player Rupert Moon, were presented to RABI's Carmarthenshire branch.

GIVE FARMERS MORE HELP TO ADD VALUE TO FOOD, SAYS FUW

There is insufficient consideration of how the Welsh Assembly Government's new 10-year food strategy aims to engage farmers and other primary producers to consider moving into added value enterprises, says the Farmers' Union of Wales.

Responding to today's publication of "Food for Wales, Food from Wales 2010-2020" FUW deputy director of policy Rhian Nowell-Phillips said the union recognised the important role the Assembly's Food Centres play in helping micro-businesses develop and innovate.

"But we are concerned that more emphasis should be given to encouraging primary producers to consider added value as a means of shortening the supply chain, increasing profitability and improving the sustainability of their businesses into the future.

"There is also a need to make sure the relevant training capacity and mentoring is available for small scale producers and that targeted sales and marketing advice is made available to help these micro businesses.

"Processing facilities can be a major barrier to the adoption of added value opportunities by primary producers, and the lack of smaller abattoirs, or difficulties in accessing larger slaughtering facilities for one or two animals, is a genuine problem in many areas of Wales and does reduce the opportunities for developing this sector.

"The union believes that the strategy needs to reflect the importance of encouraging primary producers into the wider supply chain and the need for recognition to be given to the investment required to adopt new capacity.

"Whilst acknowledging the need for the strategy to adopt sustainability in its wider sense, it is important to ensure that this is translated into clear, uncomplicated messages, which do not result in increased red tape and unwieldy policy instruments.

"The FUW represents primary producers who are generally small businesses and already subject to a great deal of regulation, bureaucracy and red tape."

Ms Nowell-Phillips accepted that many of the aspirations within the strategy were fully in line with the union's aims of a profitable, sustainable agricultural sector within a thriving rural economy.

"Retaining primary producers and a critical mass of quality farm products is paramount to delivering the aspirations of this strategy. Sustainability, efficiency, and market development are also important for the success of the strategy, as is encouraging entrepreneurship amongst primary producers to add value.

"From the union's perspective, delivering the vision for food in Wales is reliant on a profitable primary production sector. The FUW believes that it is vital to ensure that farming is fairly represented in the strategy and that value should be added as close to the source of production as possible."

FARMERS BLAME LACK OF BROADBAND FOR HATING CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

The lack of adequate broadband in several rural areas of Wales could be one of the reasons why farmers hate Christmas shopping, the Farmers' Union of Wales stressed today (Thursday, December 9).

Responding to a new survey which found a fifth of farmers detest Christmas shopping, FUW president Gareth Vaughan revealed he cannot access broadband services at his farm near Newtown.

"Most of the farmers I know do not have access to online shopping because they do not have access to broadband. So I'd be very surprised if this statistic represents a large cross-section of farmers."

The survey by online shopping website www.vikingdirect.co.uk discovered that when it comes to Christmas shopping farmers hate the experience far more than any other profession. They go for the easy option and buy vouchers or give cash instead.

The website gathered the views of people in the UK and Ireland to find out what type of shopper we are - either Dodgers (who dodge buying presents and go for vouchers), Pinchers (penny-pinchers), Planners (never go shopping without a list) or Surprise Shoppers (who go that extra mile with gifts).

One farmer who took the test came out as a Dodger. "I have to admit the personality test rings true with me as I came out as a Dodger and I do hate shopping," said Jason Chipping.

"I can just about bring myself to shop online, but I can't stand trawling round the shops - there are so many better things to do!"

Mr Vaughan added: "If some farmers are a bit down about Christmas, it's probably because they associate it with a lot of hard work and bad weather. A farmer cannot take the day off work because of snow and ice as animals still need feeding, milking etc.

"For example, over the last week many farmers have been up all night in temperatures of minus 10 or lower trying to thaw out water-pipes or carrying water for their cattle to drink. Perhaps some just associate Christmas with this type of very hard work."

The survey by Viking Direct shows the armed forces and those in banking and finance are close behind farmers while scientists and travel agents are the least likely to dodge a trip round the shops in search of festive gifts!

The study also showed teachers are the biggest penny-pinchers, that teenagers hate the whole experience and that people in sales and marketing are the most thoughtful and generous!

FUW HAILS EU FOOD LABELLING MOVES AS STEP FORWARD

Many years of lobbying by the Farmers' Union of Wales for meat to be properly labelled with its country of origin has taken a major step forward, the union claimed today.

"We welcome the new proposals by EU ministers to introduce a draft regulation to extend the compulsory beef labelling system operating since 2002 to include lamb, pork and chicken," said FUW president Gareth Vaughan.

The ministers have also called on the EC to report on the possible extension of compulsory country of origin labelling to further products such as milk, milk used as an ingredient, meat used as an ingredient, unprocessed foods, single ingredient products, and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food.

The FUW stepped up its country of origin labelling campaign in 2004 after members discovered Argentinian rump steak - displaying the British flag and British farm standards logo - on sale at a Bangor supermarket and Brazilian beef being sold in a newly-opened supermarket at Bala.

FUW deputy president Emyr Jones, who rears Welsh Black cattle near Bala, led a delegation of farmers to meet the area manager at the new store to explain how angry they felt.

And last August the FUW described the news that Welsh lamb was being routinely mis-sold on the menus of North Wales eateries as a significant step backwards in the promotion of quality Welsh produce.

Of the 244 restaurants, pubs, takeaways and hotels, targeted by a Trading Standards Probe, a staggering 50 per cent were unable to identify the origin of products which were being described and sold as "Welsh lamb".

Mr Vaughan said: "Welsh livestock farmers have good reasons to want accurate and unambiguous labelling of Welsh beef and lamb but in the past few years we have identified a number of examples of mislabelling of imported meat which could have tarnished the quality image of food produced in Wales.

"Welsh farmers are proud of their produce and the high welfare, sustainability and environmental ethics they adopt. The FUW has worked hard to promote home-grown produce and our long-standing and successful 'Buy the Welsh One' campaign reflects our commitment to the Welsh farming industry."

FARMERS REVEAL PERSONAL TRAUMA OF BOVINE TB SLAUGHTER

The trauma of witnessing 23 cattle including six calves shot dead in a pen on their farm due to bovine tuberculosis (bTB) has forced a distressed Monmouthshire couple to consider selling the rest of their herd and keep sheep instead.

With the December 17 deadline looming for views on the Welsh Assembly Government's proposed badger cull in an intensive action area in north Pembrokeshire, Farmers' Union of Wales members Rhys and Judith Parry, of Penterry Farm, St Arvans, near Chepstow, recalled their recent harrowing experiences when a number of their cattle failed a third TB test.

"When you load cattle on to a lorry to be sent off for slaughter you feel as though you've done the best for them. But it's hard to reconcile that with witnessing them being shot by contractors in a pen on the farm," said Mrs Parry.

"Following two clear tests, our latest TB test was on September 27. It showed 22 cattle as reactors or inconclusive and after cultures were taken for analysis we were told that the animals would be taken for slaughter.

"However, due to the fact that the cows were very heavy in calf, it was decided that an on-farm slaughter would take place. This was carried out on October 14 when 13 cows, four yearlings and six two and three-month-old calves were shot in the pen.

"The whole procedure was so traumatic. We feel that not enough emphasis is given to the stress placed upon farmers at times like this and, more particularly, the stressful way in which the animals had to be slaughtered.

"After the first one was killed there was obviously a great deal of panic amongst the remaining cattle. Some of the cows were very heavy in calf and, in fact, one of them had calved the previous night.

"The result now is that there are eight young calves that had to be hand reared and three cows that have had their calves taken from them."

The Parrys' 400-acre traditional organic farm carries approximately 350 head of cattle. It has been organic for a considerable number of years and therefore is, like the vast majority of Welsh farms, not run intensively.

"The fact that we had gone through two clear tests is important because, following those tests, the cattle were placed in a field which we know is close to badger setts in the nearby woods," said Mr Parry. "We are now very, very reluctant to put any cattle into this block of land.

"The bulk of our land is surrounded by woods and we have been so distressed by this latest episode that we are seriously considering changing our farming policy by selling the cattle and replacing them with sheep."

Normally they run a closed herd of 85 suckler cows plus followers and some bought-in organic store cattle for fattening but due to the recent outbreak of TB they are now down to around 50 cows. The majority of the cows are Limousin-Cross and are put to a Limousin bull.

According to the Welsh Assembly Government's website, bovine TB is a chronic, debilitating, infectious disease of cattle, badgers and many other mammals, including humans. In parts of Wales the disease has escalated over the past 25 years to unsustainable levels, placing a huge financial burden on government, taxpayers and farmers.

The WAG is committed to eradicating bTB in Wales by tackling all sources of the disease. The cost to the taxpayer in compensation to cattle keepers has increased dramatically over the past 10 years and since 2000 over £100 million has been spent on compensation alone.

FUW's bTB spokesman Brian Walters said: “We should be in no doubt that there are many members of the public who will respond negatively to the proposed north Pembrokeshire badger cull consultation but they are completely unaffected by this terrible disease, and have been lulled by wildlife groups into believing culling does not work and is futile.

“It is, therefore, important that farmers make their support for the cull known to WAG, as it is they who are directly affected by TB, and are on the front line in the battle against the disease.

“We have a pre-formatted response to the consultation which can be accessed and sent via our website at www.fuw.org.uk and those without web access can contact their local FUW office.”

FUW COUNCIL CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER

The Farmers' Union of Wales announced today that tomorrows' meeting of the Grand Council of the Union has been cancelled due to severe weather conditions.

FUW Director of Administration, Peter Davies, said: "Due to the severe weather we have been facing over the last week and taking the weather forecast into consideration, the Union has decided to cancel the meeting of the Grand Council at Aberystwyth ."

FUW HIGHLIGHT CAP CONCERNS TO MINISTER

The Farmers' Union of Wales has highlighted key concerns relating to the future of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013 during a meeting with Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones.

During the meeting at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, the union told the minister that, aside from major concerns regarding overarching issues such as the CAP budget and ensuring a fairer share for Wales, it was essential that the final agreement allowed Wales to operate a system which was equitable for Welsh farm businesses.

Speaking after the meeting, FUW President Gareth Vaughan said: "The minister is well aware of our concerns regarding the broad issues of the CAP budget, ensuring that agriculture remains the focus of the CAP, and the need for a slow transition to flat-rate payments.

"However, it is also important that Wales is not backed into a corner by the details of the regulations which come into force after 2013.

"We therefore urged the minister to ensure that the options available allow Wales to distribute payments to farm businesses in a way which minimises disruption for family farms of all sizes and types within Wales."

With the current historically based Single Payment system expected to be gradually replaced after 2013 by some form of flat-rate payment per hectare, the union's concerns highlight the dangers of being lumbered with a system which could cause massive disruption for the Welsh industry.

"Research published by the union in 2009 identified the damage that an overly simplistic flat-rate payment system would cause for Welsh farming families, and we therefore need CAP regulations which allow a flexible system which minimises disruption."

The union also highlighted the fact that it retained an open mind to the issue of capping or tapering direct payments.

"It would not be in the interests of Welsh farmers for us to close our minds to the possible merits of capping or tapering payments before scrutinising the detailed analyses of possible payment models which the minister has assured us will be undertaken over the coming months."

Also high on the agenda was the need for a simplified CAP and equitable penalty system for both farmers and Member States.

"The current system is disgraceful in the way that genuine errors can lead to massive penalties for farmers, and the draconian fines that can apply to Member States or regions due to the authorities and the EU auditors interpreting regulations differently.

"The current system means that authorities which behave in a moral way can be penalised for being perceived as not interpreting rules properly, yet in many cases the rules are ambiguous, and the Commission will not provide clear guidance on specific interpretations.

"The post 2013 CAP regulations should ensure that both farmers and the authorities are treated fairly, and that the penalties applied at all levels are proportionate."

BADGER CULL WILL SLASH TB CASES, SAYS FUW

The proposed five-year badger cull in north Pembrokeshire could slash heartbreaking bovine TB herd outbreaks by between 68 and 81 and that could easily be an underestimate, the Farmers' Union of Wales revealed at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair today.

The figures were included in the union's response to a Welsh Assembly Government consultation paper on badger culling in the area which includes 321 farms with cattle.

Computer modelling based upon the results of previous badger culls predicts that a cull in north Pembrokeshire could reduce confirmed herd outbreaks by between 30 and 44 during a five year culling period, and by around 38 in the four years afterwards.

The results form part of the FUW's comprehensive evidence supporting WAG's proposals, in which the union makes it clear that those who believe badger culling doesn't work are "by definition, wrong".

FUW vice president and bTB spokesman Brian Walters said: "The bottom line is that if badger culling wasn't going to work, then we wouldn't be supporting it.

"The fact of the matter is that all the evidence shows it works, and there is no other proven method which would have such a dramatic effect on TB incidences in the area.

"The bTB breakdown rate in the intensive action area (IAA) is one of the highest in the northern hemisphere, and the disease desperately needs to be dealt with in the area to minimise the risk to other mammals including humans."

The response highlights the fact that the badger culling in the Irish Four Counties trials led to a 60-96% decrease in the rate at which herds became the subject of confirmed bTB restriction and that, in the four years after culling came to an end in the English Badger Culling Trial areas, incidences were reduced in and around proactive culling areas by 34.1% and 5.6% respectively.

The latter equates to around 155 confirmed herd breakdowns being prevented in and around the ten English culling areas between June 2006 and July 2010.

The FUW's response also makes a number of points in relation to specific questions raised in the WAG consultation document including the use of an injectable vaccine, and access to land for culling.

"Modelling work recently produced by the Food and Environment Research Agency suggests that injecting badgers with vaccine could help reduce disease incidences in cattle, but that both ring vaccination around culling areas, and culling alone are likely to be more effective strategies," said Mr Walters.

"The work also suggests that an approach involving both culling and ring vaccination would require considerably more resources than culling alone.

"The FUW fully supports the development of an effective and safe oral vaccine for badgers as a means by which to reduce the prevalence of bTB in cattle and badgers and would support ring vaccination around culling areas where geographic boundaries are unlikely to reduce the adverse effects of perturbation."

Members also believed that the use of an injectable badger vaccine may be acceptable as an exit strategy in areas where culling has been undertaken and disease levels had been reduced to non-endemic levels, or to protect wildlife in an area which is free from bTB.

The union's response also provides its full backing for compulsory access to land in order to cull.

"It is illegal to prevent the culling of cattle which may pose a disease risk to other animals, and the same principle should apply for badgers," said Mr Walters.

"Objections to culling during the English culling trials had an adverse impact on the results of those trials since not all land could be accessed for culling.

"Minimising such disruption by specifically making obstruction illegal will therefore increase the positive benefits of badger culling and help ensure that the anonymity of those who consent to culling on their land is preserved."

TEACH FARMING TO TODDLERS, SAYS FUW BURSARY WINNER

A Monmouthshire student who has won the Farmers' Union of Wales annual £700 student bursary today called for agriculture to be taught in schools from primary level in a bid to improve the image of an industry in which the average age of a farmer in Wales is 59.

Nineteen-year-old Phillippa Maidment, who has just started a rural property management course at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire, made the demand in a 1,000-word essay submitted with her bursary application.

She was presented with her bursary cheque on the FUW stand at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair when a second bursary of £200 was also handed to another Harper Adams student, 18-year-old Sion Gwynedd Roberts, of Simdde Hir, Llannefydd, near Denbigh, who is studying agricultural engineering.

A third bursary of £100 was presented to 18-year-old Aberystwyth University student Gwyn Pierce, of Gelli-Haf, Llangyndeyrn, Carmarthenshire, who is studying agriculture with animal science.

Apart from being a keen member of her local young farmers' club, Phillippa's family has no direct link to farming.

Entitled "What should the Welsh farming industry and government do to attract more young people into agriculture?", her essay suggested that as too few young people are choosing a career in agriculture there could be drastic effects on the farming industry.

"As the majority of farmers are members of the older generation there is lack of new ideas coming into agriculture. This could be preventing farmers from increasing their income," wrote Phillippa, whose home is at Undy, near Caldicot.

In her essay, she stated: "One major problem restricting the younger generation from being part of the farming industry is that it currently has a very negative profile.

"If you ask most young people for their opinion on farming the common response is that it provides a low income, long hours and is hard work. Another problem is that the younger generation do not have the opportunity to take part and get the feel of farm life unless they are from a farming background.

"As a young person myself, if I was not a member of young farmers I would find it incredibly difficult to gain knowledge or experience on a farm. But how can this problem be addressed?

An obvious way to begin to tackle this problem would be to introduce agriculture in to the classroom from an early age, starting at primary school level. Children need to learn the basic farm animals and where their food comes from.

"A fun and exciting way to do this is by providing farm visits. In Wales there are community farms, such as Greenmeadow Community Farm in Cwmbran which provides children with a hands-on educational experience, which is fun and very interesting for all.

"However, not all communities are lucky enough to have an open farm due to the costs of implementing health and safety regulations. One way in which the government could help overcome this issue is by providing farmers with grants and resources to enable them to cater for groups of school children and comply with health and safety regulations.

"Once these children have completed primary school they will have valuable knowledge on agriculture as a whole. This needs to be maintained and improved when they move to comprehensive school.

"Schools could provide pupils from non-farming backgrounds with agricultural experience through a youth learning scheme. Schemes similar to this are already offered for trades such as bricklaying and plastering and have seen great accomplishment. This could also be true of farming.

"I understand it would be tough to get farmers to accept this and having young people on their farm could be daunting. However, if young people aren't given the chance then they will never learn."

FUW president Gareth Vaughan praised all 23 applicants for the high standards of their written submissions which were based on climate change challenges for farming and food production in Wales; how to attract more young people into agriculture; and how to give the Welsh farming industry a higher public profile.

"The panel of three judges were very impressed by the fresh ideas, expressed so clearly by many of the applicants to overcome the challenges that are currently facing Welsh farming," Mr Vaughan added.

FUW LAUNCHES CAP CONSULTATION

The Farmers' Union of Wales today launched the first of a number of detailed consultations with members over the future of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013, following the European Commission's publication of broad proposals earlier this month.

The consultation asks FUW county branch committees to consider the two issues of capping Single Payments and possible ways of distributing Pillar 1 payments within Wales.

Launching the consultation at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, the FUW's president Gareth Vaughan said: "Pillar 1 payments represent the injection of hundreds of millions of pounds into Welsh rural communities each year, and the European Commission have made a number of broad recommendations as to how money should be distributed after 2013.

"Included amongst these are the suggestion that payments to businesses might be capped, and I believe that it is essential that we gather the views of members on this and other possible payment options, rather than dismissing the Commission's proposals out of hand."

The Commission has proposed that the current system, where Welsh payments are based on historic claims made in the years 2000 to 2002, should be phased out in favour of a flat-rate per hectare basis.

However, they have also suggested that a ceiling or cap should apply for large payments, which could also take account of number of employees on particular farms.

"During the 2007 Health Check negotiations, the Union successfully argued in favour of keeping our historically based payment system. However, the movement to a flat or flatter rate payment system is by now inevitable.

"It is therefore essential that we consider all possible options, including capping, and lobby for flexibility from Europe to implement a system which best suits Wales's farming industry and takes account of the needs of farms in different regions of Wales.

"As a democratic union, it is only right that we conduct a rolling consultation with members on important issues such as these."

FUW WELCOMES GLASTIR REVIEW

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed the decision to set up an independent review panel into the Welsh Assembly Government's controversial land management scheme, Glastir, after it received fewer than 3,000 applications from farmers.

"Some serious questions now need to be asked as to why we are in this situation," said FUW president Gareth Vaughan. "The FUW has been expressing its profound concerns about the scheme for over twelve months and it is only now the Assembly have woken up to the fact that the scheme is currently impractical for many farmers.

"Last year the union called for a 12-month delay to the introduction of the scheme so that it could be fully thought out, piloted and all elements launched at the same time so that farmers could make considered business decisions.

"It is, therefore, no surprise that less than 20% of those who expressed an interest in the scheme have actually submitted application forms, and we are sadly now in a 'we told you so' situation.

"However, the decision by the Minister to establish an independent review panel to try and make the scheme more practical must be welcomed, providing the advice of the panel is fully accepted by the Assembly and acted upon quickly."

FUW GIVES GUARDED RESPONSE TO RURAL AFFAIRS DRAFT BUDGET

The Farmers' Union of Wales has welcomed the decision by Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones to protect key priority areas in the 2011/12 draft budget.

Areas which have been targeted for protection include the delivery of the Rural Development Plan, the administration of the Single Payment Scheme, bovine TB eradication, and the Young Entrants' Support Scheme.

Responding to the announcement, FUW President Gareth Vaughan said: "The current financial climate means that a reduction in the Rural Affairs department's draft budget was inevitable.

"While such cuts are naturally a cause for concern, we welcome the decision to protect key areas relating to the Single Payment, Rural Development, bovine TB, and the YES Scheme.

"The Single Payment Scheme and Rural Development Plan deliver significant sums of money to Wales's communities, and failure to protect these budgets could have led to the loss of European funding which is essential to our rural economy.

"Eradication of the current bTB disease epidemic and maintaining support for young people are also important areas that we are glad to see being protected."

However, Mr Vaughan emphasised that the Union would continue to monitor the situation closely.

"Welsh agriculture makes an essential contribution to our economy, culture, and environment, and we must ensure that cuts do not have a knock-on effect which undermines these key contributions."

FUW DAIRY COMMITTEE BACKS TRADITIONAL FAMILY FARMS OVER SUPER-DAIRIES

The Farmers’ Union of Wales’ milk and dairy produce committee has backed a policy of supporting traditional family farms rather than the much debated concept of "super-dairies".

At a recent meeting of the committee, delegates unanimously backed a policy position stating that: "The issues surrounding super-dairies are complex and some groups have hijacked the issue to lobby on separate or peripheral issues.

"The Farmers’ Union of Wales does not agree that super-dairies would routinely lead to welfare issues, as some would have us believe. However, the union has major concerns regarding the impact of such farms in terms of the public’s perception of the dairy industry, and on the milk price and the industry as a whole.

"Given that a single super-dairy could take the place of scores of average sized family dairy farms, the union would prefer to see traditional family farms staying in business and receiving a fair price for their milk, rather than single massive units pushing others out of business and being used as an excuse to further depress the milk prices received by average sized Welsh dairy farms."

Committee chairman Eifion Huws, a dairy farmer from Anglesey, welcomed the decision. He said: "The size of the average dairy herd in Wales is around 75, so it does not take a genius to work out that a single super-dairy milking three thousand cattle could take the place of forty average sized family farms.

"It also seems inevitable that the ability of super-dairies to supply large volumes will lead to those who supply more modest volumes being accused of being ‘inefficient’ and receiving a lower milk price as a result.

"We are already seeing a situation in which farms which would previously have been considered as not insubstantial are being paid a lot less for their milk than their larger neighbours, and super-dairies are likely to accelerate this trend.

"The major retailers are driving some farmers towards this type of expansion, and many others out of the industry. My preference would be to see traditional family dairy farms staying in business and receiving a fair price for their milk, rather than a single massive unit pushing others out of business and being used as an excuse to further depress the milk prices received by average sized Welsh dairy farms.

"I believe that the general public also agrees with this sentiment.

"The FUW was set up more than half a century ago to protect the interests of Welsh family farms, and I believe that this policy is fully in keeping with that objective."

FUW SAYS WAG MUST FIGHT ITS CORNER OVER CAP REFORM

The Farmers' Union of Wales has stressed European Commission proposals, published today, relating to changes to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should prompt action by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) to take a proactive role in defending Wales's interests.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: "Today's publication contains a great deal of information which highlights the importance of maintaining a strong Common Agricultural Policy in order to ensure food security and protect our rural communities and environments.

"However, the document is weak on specific details and really serves to outline a list of broad agenda items for the forthcoming debate on the future of the CAP post 2013."

Mr Vaughan, speaking prior to a briefing session on the publication with Owen Jones, Head of Unit for the EU's Financial Management of the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, said: "Agriculture makes an essential contribution to Wales's economy and the CAP represents an annual injection of around £380m into our rural communities.

"In light of this importance, the Welsh Assembly Government must now rise to the challenge and argue for a post 2013 CAP which gives the maximum benefit to Wales."

The document - entitled "The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources, and territorial challenges of the future" - names the three main objectives of a future CAP as being viable food production, sustainable management of natural resources and climate action, and balanced territorial development.

The document also draws attention to the need to ensure farmers receive a fairer share of returns from the supply chain, drawing attention to the fact that farmers' share of retail prices have fallen dramatically over the years, while the profits of others, such as the major retailers, have boomed.

"There are a number of welcome suggestions in the document, and others which are not welcome," said Mr Vaughan.

"However, there is little or no meat on the bones at the moment and the real devil will be in the more detailed proposals which will emerge over the coming months.

"The Welsh Assembly Government must do all it can to influence those proposals in a way which benefits Wales, and ensures that we get a share of CAP funding which more properly reflects the challenges faced in Wales."

The FUW has previously been severely critical of WAG's failure to investigate what Welsh priorities should be in terms of CAP reform.

In July this year the union told the Assembly's Rural Development Sub Committee that WAG "appeared content to sit on the sidelines with no clear view on CAP reform, despite the importance of the CAP to Wales's economy, while other countries were proactively influencing the debate at an European level in a way which might not necessarily be beneficial to Wales".

Mr Vaughan said there are a number of welcome suggestions in the document and others which are not welcome. "I am particularly concerned at the proposed 'greening' of Pillar one, which could require farmers to undertake additional environmental management over and above cross compliance.

"Our view is that environmental goods and services have a value to society and so farmers should be compensated for undertaking them, as currently happens under Pillar two."

FUW MEMBERS HAND OVER FARMING BUSINESS TO FOURTH GENERATION

[caption id="attachment_4996" align="aligncenter" width="300"]From left, Huw Llyr Rees, Shana Rees, Aled Rees and Richard Evan Rees. From left, Huw Llyr Rees, Shana Rees, Aled Rees and Richard Evan Rees.[/caption]

Meirionnydd farming couple Aled and Shana Rees's recent decision to give the running of their flourishing farm business to their two young sons ensures it remains in the hands of a fourth generation of the family.

"I will be forever grateful to my late father for giving me the opportunity to run the business at a very young age and Shana and I are absolutely determined for our two sons to be given the same chance in life," said Aled Rees, of Penmaendyfi, Pennal, near Machynlleth.

Both sons, 22-year-old Richard Evan and Huw Llyr, 19, are keen stockmen and will relish the opportunity to expand the farming business and retain the family's high standard of stockmanship at the neighbouring Penmaenbach farm which Aled's grandfather rented when the family moved to the area in 1937.

"Shana and I passionately believe that by giving responsibility to our sons at a very young age, it will greatly enhance their chances of succeeding in business in later life," Aled Rees added.

His father, the well known bass singer Richard Rees, bought the farm in the 1950s and purchased neighbouring land when the opportunities arose. A new house was built at Penmaenbach in 1962 under the "Small Farm Scheme" which helped many farmers in similar circumstances.

Aled Rees and his father were pioneers in the tourism business when they established Penmaenbach Caravan Park in 1972. This became an important source of additional income for the farm.

Then in 1990, Aled and Shana began the self-catering side of the tourism business, first by renovating the old dilapidated farmhouse at Penmaenbach and then the farm buildings and today the new farmhouse built in 1962 is also let as self-catering accommodation.

In 1999 they bought Penmaendyfi, the nearby 16th century Welsh country mansion, to run it as a restaurant and bar together with 27 caravans and chalets. The mansion was completely renovated and is now run as a hotel. Full details can be viewed on www.penmaendyfi.co.uk

The farming enterprise at Penmaenbach extends to approx 300 acres. It was the 10th farm to enter the Tir Cymen scheme in Meirionnydd back in 1992 and is currently in the Tir Gofal scheme.

The 10-year agreement comes to an end next year but, as with the majority of similar agreements, a transitional agreement has been signed extending the scheme to the end of 2013.

Clearly there is interest in the Glastir scheme following Tir Gofal although, at current predictions, it will be less than 50% of the money under the All-Wales element.

The sheep enterprise involves a total of 450 mainly Beulah and Welsh mules with a small flock of Texels. All lambs are fattened on farm and sold to local butcher William Lloyd Williams at Machynlleth or sent to Dunbia abattoir at Llanybydder, near Lampeter.

Welcoming Aled and Shana's decision to hand over the farming businesses to their sons, Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan said the industry desperately needed young people like Richard Evan and Huw Llyr to ensure that Welsh farming can look to the future with confidence.

"The FUW welcomes all measures, including the Assembly's innovative Young Entrants Support Scheme, that can contribute towards a successful and sustainable future for our industry and the success of enterprises such as Penmaenbach are the key in achieving these goals."

YFC STALWART WINS FUW AWARD

[caption id="attachment_4992" align="aligncenter" width="300"]From left, Meinir Bartlett, Eirios Thomas, Welsh Dairy Show president Islwyn Thomas and Welsh Dairy Show chairman Lynn Davies. From left, Meinir Bartlett, Eirios Thomas, Welsh Dairy Show president Islwyn Thomas and Welsh Dairy Show chairman Lynn Davies.[/caption]

Carmarthenshire YFC federation county organiser Eirios Thomas has received the Farmers' Union of Wales-United Counties Agricultural and Hunters Society award for the most outstanding contribution to agriculture in the county.

A farmer's daughter from Cwmann, near Lampeter, Mrs Thomas was presented with the award at the recent Welsh Dairy Show dinner.

FUW county executive officer Meinir Bartlett said Mrs Thomas attended Bangor University and commenced her career as a teacher in Clwyd before she was drawn back to her native county.

"She started working for the YFC as Carmarthenshire county organiser in 1977. Since then her love, devotion and commitment to the movement, young people and agriculture has been unfailing.

"Year after year she has created and inspired a full and varied programme of events and competitions to challenge the membership. She regularly visits 24 clubs in the county and earns the respect of all the members. As a result of this she knows them all by name, knows their families and gains the co-operation of the local community.

"Members cease to compete at the age of 26, but she encourages them to remain close to their roots in the countryside.

The County YFC Agriculture Forum was established following her initiative, with seminars, farm walks and courses organised to educate the youth in rural and agricultural issues.

"She has often been described as one who 'lives and breathes' the YFC, because she believes that it gives the youth an opportunity to learn new skills that are not available within the classroom."

Under Mrs Thomas' leadership, the county regularly wins the best overall county at the Royal Welsh Show and the Western Mail Trophy for achievement at Wales level throughout the year.

This year Carmarthenshire YFC was the only county within Wales to increase its membership. With over 800 members Carmarthenshire is regarded as the leading county within the Wales Federation.

Mrs Thomas believes that by encouraging the youngsters they will develop into better farmers, better citizens and better countrymen and, as a result, the agriculture industry and institutions of Carmarthenshire will flourish.

FUW QUIZ NIGHT FOR AIR AMBULANCE

FUW's Gwent branch is organising a charity quiz night to raise funds for Wales Air Ambulance, the union president Gareth Vaughan's 2010 charity.

The quiz will be held at Abergavenny RFC on Tuesday November 23, commencing at 7.30pm, with teams of no more than five taking part. Entry fee per team is £20 with cash prizes for the top three and light refreshments for all who attend.

There will also be a raffle, and an auction of donated items. Members are urged to consider supporting the event by entering a team, donating a raffle prize, item for the auction or all three.

The union's Gwent county executive officer Glyn Davies said: "The Wales Air Ambulance is particularly vital in the rural community, providing emergency support and quick access to hospitals in times of accident or illness.

"This is a very worthwhile cause and the quiz night is an opportunity for the agricultural community to show its appreciation and support."

Members should send their entry fee or donation to FUW's Gwent office at Park Chambers, 10 Hereford Road, Abergavenny NP7 5PR by Wednesday November 17.

GOLD MEDAL FOR MOON

[caption id="attachment_4985" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Rupert Moon receives his gold medal from FUW president Gareth Vaughan with First Minister Carwyn Jones. Rupert Moon receives his gold medal from FUW president Gareth Vaughan with First Minister Carwyn Jones.[/caption]

Ex-Welsh rugby international Rupert Moon has won a Farmers' Union of Wales gold medal in recognition of his help in arranging parades of Welsh Black bulls around the hallowed turfs of Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and Llanelli's former Stradey Park.

Moon received the medal, one of a limited edition struck to mark the FUW's 50th anniversary in 2005, for his enthusiastic assistance when past Welsh Black Cattle Society Trefor Jones and his son Huw led young bulls around Stradey Park before the Scarlets’ Heineken Cup matches against Perpignan in 2003 - when the French banned imports of UK beef due to the foot and mouth outbreak - and the Millennium Stadium before the 2006 Wales-New Zealand match.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said Moon, former Welsh Rugby Union head of group commercial and business development and now the Scarlets' commercial director, was a "very good friend" of the FUW.

The former Llanelli and Wales scrum-half was master of ceremonies at a recent FUW-organised fund-raising dinner to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).

Mr Vaughan presented a second gold medal to FUW member Bryn Davies, of Llansawel, near Llandeilo, a RABI trustee for many years.

"Bryn worked incredibly hard for RABI and helped hundreds of beneficiaries during that time, travelling to all parts of Wales," said Mr Vaughan.

 

TORY MP SLAMS VAGUE FOOD LABELLING

Current food labelling regulations are inadequate and vague, Carmarthenshire West & South Pembrokeshire's Conservative MP Simon Hart told a recent meeting of the Farmers' Union of Wales' Carmarthenshire county executive committee.

"An Ombudsman, when in place, will deal with this issue," added Mr Hart before committee members suggested the FUW should take every opportunity to continue lobbying MPs on the importance of correct labelling.

Mr Hart, former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, gave details of his background which is closely linked to the agricultural sector, with some of his close relatives currently farming in Carmarthenshire.

He raised concerns about proposals to reduce the number of MPs as it would be harder to have the voice of Wales heard in Central Government.

He also referred to the work of Defra's red tape Tsar Richard Macdonald who recently urged farmers to have their say on over-regulation.

Mr Hart said Central Government worked in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government who are much closer to electors and the general public.

The issue of hunting was included in the Conservative manifesto, but he believed that this would not be taken further until mid-2015.

Members raised questions and debated a variety of other topics such as Defra's bovine TB-badger control consultation and environmental issues such as food production and carbon footprint.

FUW URGES BEACONS PLANNING REVIEW FOLLOWING BBC INVESTIGATION

The Farmers' Union of Wales today called for an urgent review of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority's (BBNPA) role after a BBC Wales TV programme highlighted major failings involving its planning department.

Speaking after the "Week In, Week Out" documentary was aired on Tuesday evening, the union's Brecon and Radnor county chairman Brian Bowen said: "The programme reiterates numerous concerns raised by the FUW over the years and highlights the fact that our concerns are shared widely by residents and organisations within the National Park.

"There is a real feeling amongst members that the Park Authority does little for those people who live and work here and the documentary provides yet further evidence of the need for a review of the park's role and whether its planning duties should be taken away from it."

FUW county executive officer Aled Jones said he had encountered numerous examples of problems experienced by members.

"In one case a farmer was told an old barn could only be converted to holiday accommodation, and not for habitation by a farm worker and local residents, which is hardly supportive of local communities and employment.

"In another, an officer of the park authority gave a member permission to complete work, only for another officer to write to him eight months later after the work was complete stating that she disagreed with the original decision, and that that the development was a breach of planning control and could be demolished.

"Our member took the case to appeal at a cost of more than £20,000, while the BBNP used public money to employ the services of a barrister to fight a case which they ultimately lost."

Mr Jones said that communication within the planning department seemed to be severely lacking. On several occasions he had written, telephoned and e-mailed them but received no reply.

"When dealing with planning enquiries with Powys County Council I have had a far better experience and have often found officers to be helpful, informative and willing to make site visits when requested."

RURAL AFFAIRS MINISTER TO SPEAK AT FUW CAERNARFONSHIRE AGM

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones will be the keynote speaker at the annual general meeting of the Farmers' Union of Wales Caernarfonshire county branch, which will take place at Caernarfon Golf Club this Friday, November 5 at 7.30pm.

The event is sponsored by the HSBC bank, and Nigel Davies, HSBC's head of agriculture banking in Wales, will also be speaking at the event.

FUW County Chairman Morgan Jones-Parry said: "It promises to be a very interesting evening, with the controversial Glastir scheme being very high on the agenda. It will also be interesting to hear what HSBC thinks of the new agri-environment scheme."

There will be a question and answer session following the presentations, and the meeting will be an excellent opportunity for members to highlight any concerns they have regarding the Glastir agri-environment scheme and other topical issues.

GLASTIR AND COLLEGE MERGER ON FUW AGENDA

The annual meeting of the Farmers' Union of Wales Denbighshire county branch will take place at Coleg Llysfasi, Ruthin, on Monday November 8 at 7pm.

The guest speakers are the Welsh Assembly Government's head of CAP reform David Morris and the principal of the recently merged Coleg Llysfasi and Deeside College David Jones.

There will be a question and answer session following their presentations and the meeting will be an excellent opportunity for members to inform Mr Morris of their problems with the Glastir agri-environment scheme.

"We are hoping for a good attendance and anticipate an excellent discussion about Glastir and the merger of Coleg Llysfasi and Deeside College," said FUW county executive officer Marian Jones.

FUW URGES DAIRY FARMERS TO TAKE OUT MILK INSURANCE COVER

[caption id="attachment_4967" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Robert and Mark Fear Robert and Mark Fear[/caption]

Welsh dairy farmers were warned today to check that they are insured for loss of milk supplies due to adverse weather this winter.

"Serious weather conditions are likely to affect the collection of milk produce over the coming months," said the Farmers' Union of Wales business development director Emyr James.

"During last year's harsh winter many farmers suffered losses as milk collection services were disrupted due to hazardous road conditions. Some local authorities may be forced to remove roads from their gritting lists while Ceredigion County Council has already listed some roads that will not receive first-grit treatment.

"Following last winter's experience and the likely impact of local government cutbacks, it is certainly worthwhile assessing the risk of losing milk revenue owing to difficult weather conditions," said Mr James.

Before last winter the previous spell of bad weather to have an impact upon milk collections was in the early 1980s. As a consequence, many farmers have allowed uncollected milk cover to lapse.

"Most farmers have not taken out milk insurance yet, as most of them believe bad weather will not affect them enough to make it worthwhile," said Mr James.

Ceredigion Council decided that over ten roads will be removed from the first-grit route this coming winter such as the B4234 Felinfach to Hendrelas, B4334 Penrhiwpal to Brynhoffnant, C1010 Rhydtir to Gogerddan crossroads and the B4342 to Talsarn.

"Insurance cover is available to cover circumstances outside personal control in which milk is lost, wasted, or spoiled, resulting from non-collection from the purchaser," added Mr James.

"The cover, however, is not only specifically for weather conditions but covers non-collection for any reason beyond human control.

"Looking at the road conditions from last year, it is worthwhile considering insuring against the possibility of milk not being collected this winter."

Organic dairy and beef farmers Robert Fear, 66, his wife Maureen, 64, and their son Mark, 29, of Tynffynnon farm, Cilcennin, Lampeter, who farm around 60 dairy cows, have taken out milk insurance this year to ensure they are covered for the worst case scenario following last winter's problems.

"We had our insurance reviewed last week by our area officer. Some farmers say it is too costly and you just have to take the chance but we were not prepared to take that chance again," said Mr Fear.

Mrs Fear said: "We have lived here for over 13 years and have never experienced such bad weather as we had last winter.

"All of a sudden we heard the milk tanker was not coming because of the state of the roads. As farmers on the same collection route, we were ringing around each other asking if their milk had been collected - and of course it had not.

"You just did not know if it was going to be picked up or not. Then if you had it picked up you did not know when the next collection would be. It was an anxious time while the roads were in this treacherous situation."

Mr Fear added: "We had just seen the New Year in and it was a job to get hold of anyone to speak to. The transport company is based in Whitland and some of their drivers could not get into work because of the bad weather.

"Now that we have taken the insurance out it is complete peace of mind. We don't have to worry now if the milk does not get collected. It is still going to be hard, when you have made the effort to milk the cows you don't want to pull the plug on it."

Mrs Fear added: "We are only a small family farm. If the money does not come in because of wasted milk collections, bearing in mind the low milk prices as well, we are in trouble if we lose two or three collections in a month."

FUW ISSUES SOS FOR REUNION OF LAND ARMY GIRLS

[caption id="attachment_4964" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Heidi Williams outside the FUW marquee where the Land Army exhibition was staged at last year's Anglesey county show Heidi Williams outside the FUW marquee where the Land Army exhibition was staged at last year's Anglesey county show[/caption]

The Farmers' Union of Wales has issued an SOS to all former Land Army girls to get in touch so that they can share their memories at a special afternoon tea reunion.

Last year the union's Anglesey county branch held a Land Army exhibition at the island's county show. During the Second World War many girls stayed in hostels on the island at Menai Bridge, Valley and Llanerchymedd.

Following the success of the exhibition, FUW county executive officer Heidi Williams is organising the afternoon tea to be held on Thursday November 25 at the Swallow Falls Hotel, Betws y Coed.

"The event is being held to thank the ladies for their kind contribution during the war and for tending to the land whilst the men were in action," said Mrs Williams.

"As in World War One, young women were called on to work on the land and the Women's Land Army (WLA) was re-formed in July 1939. Their work was vital as so many men were sent to war.

"The work was hard and the young women usually worked in isolated communities. Many lived in hostels or old farm workers' cottages, often without running water, electricity or gas."

Over 30 entries including stories and recollections from Land Army girls were received for last year's exhibition from as far as the Isle of Wight and Yorkshire.

The winner was Sybil Hammond of Sandown on the Isle of Wight who won a milking stool engraved with the FUW logo.

Mrs Williams said: "The tea room will be transformed into a war time theme and we would like to ask the ladies to bring a keepsake or something special from their Land Army days so that they can share their stories and recollections."

The union's other North Wales county executive officers have agreed to help organise and transport women to the event from their areas.

Any former Land Army members wishing to attend the tea should, at their earliest convenience, contact Mrs Williams at the FUW's Anglesey office on 01248 750250 or e-mail her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sybil Hammond's recollections of her time at the Menai Bridge Land Army hostel can be found on the web at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/62/a8702462.shtml

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/