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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

FUW welcomes TB testing derogation for youngstock

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

 

Time is running out for SAF applications - FUW reminds farmers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Domestic food procurement process must be improved, FUW urges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please keep children safe on farm FUW urges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgent support measures needed to save dairy sector FUW stresses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respect Government guidelines and countryside code FUW urges

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

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

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

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

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

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

FUW welcomes Welsh Government emergency measures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry helps to match-make UK shearers and contractors

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

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

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

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

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

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

The website can be viewed here.

COVID-19: Being prepared

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

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

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


FUW Covid-19 Checklist


1. Prioritise

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


2. Talk it Through

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


3. Help the Helpers

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

 


FUW Covid-19 Farm Preparation Plan

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

 

 

Need Help? Find a Volunteer

 

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

 

Lantra Skills Matching Service

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

Click here to see the FAQ about the service.


Menter Mon and Conwy Cynhaliol

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

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

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

  

 

Important information for our members and customers

All staff are currently working remotely, meaning our team are continuing with exactly the same service but over the phone/email/skype or other means of remote communication instead. 

Members and customers should continue to contact us as they would, as all our team can be contacted via the usual phone numbers. 

We will be making sure that our service levels are maintained. SAF/IACS appointments will carry on as normal but will be conducted over the phone. 

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

 

Important links relating to Covid-19:

 

Importance of protecting food supplies and rural communities highlighted in letter to governments

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has written to the UK and Welsh governments calling for action to protect food producers and rural communities in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic.

In letters to UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice and Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, FUW President Glyn Roberts highlighted a range of concerns, including the need to protect UK food security and primary producers, as well as concerns over access to the countryside.

The pandemic has had a varied impact on food supply chains, with panic buying and other factors lead to shortages of certain foodstuffs, while sales of produce through cafes and other outlets have plummeted - factors that have increased market volatility and already led to price cuts for many milk producers.

“With such impacts likely to continue for many months at a time when the importance of maintaining UK food security has rapidly been brought into sharp focus, we believe it is essential that those businesses producing what is, next to water, our most essential commodity should be supported,” wrote Mr Roberts.

Former deputy President elected Life Member of the Union

Former Farmers’ Union of Wales Deputy President, Brian Thomas, has been elected as a life member of the Union at a recent Grand Council meeting in Aberystwyth in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Union and Welsh agriculture over many years.  A Pembrokeshire beef and sheep farmer, Brian Thomas has previously received the Union’s annual internal award for his services to the agricultural industry.

The recommendation that he be made a life member was accepted unanimously by the Union’s Grand Council.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Brian has been a rock solid friend and working partner for over 20 years. He is always willing to help, support and give advice. Over the years Brian has gone above and beyond in serving not just this Union but the industry as a whole. It is fair to say that the industry in Wales has benefited greatly from Brian’s active lobbying and efforts to make our sector a better place for everyone involved.”

Brian is a past county chairman of the FUW in Pembrokeshire, and has previously sat on the FUW’s central tenant’s committee. He was elected South Wales member of the central finance and organisation committee in 2011, Vice President of the FUW in 2013 and Deputy President in 2015.

During the 1996 BSE outbreak, Mr Thomas led the campaign in South West Wales opposing the importation of inferior beef into Wales.  In 1997 he led a group of farmers to Tesco’s stand at the Royal Welsh Show to address them about the unfair way in which they were treating the industry and he has been a leading figure in the fight against bovine TB.

Farmers once again appalled with BBC’s Countryfile

Farmers in Wales have voiced their anger and frustration following a BBC Countryfile programme broadcast on Sunday 15 March entitled ‘Looe Harbour’.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We have once again received many complaints from our members about the latest BBC Countryfile programme, which adopted an unbalanced approach in reporting on the current Red Tractor Assurance Scheme. This has led to both anger and disappointment amongst the farming community.”

The criticism is just the latest in a long line of complaints about unbalanced BBC reporting, including by the Countryfile programme, and many farmers have reported that they have long since stopped watching the programme due to its ‘inherent bias against farming’.

Anglesey farmers raise industry concerns with MP

Farmers from Anglesey have raised concerns about the future of farming with local MP Virginia Crosbie in light of the ongoing uncertainty on trade deals, food imports and the lack of frameworks in the UK.

In a meeting with the MP, who also sits on the Agriculture Bill Committee, Farmers’ Union of Wales officials highlighted that the Agriculture Bill does nothing to ensure food imported to the UK meets UK standards - despite previous ministerial assurances that imported food would meet our standards.

FUW Anglesey county chairman Richard Williams said: “We are very concerned about the direction of travel for agriculture. Hearing Farming Minister Victoria Prentis referring to the risk of 'creating considerable uncertainty' by legally protecting food production standards in trade deals, is a worry to say the least.

“In reality it is the UK Government which would be proactively creating such uncertainty by taking a position on trade which deliberately abandons our EU export markets and severs the established supply chains which extend across Europe. It's within their gift to avoid such uncertainty, and we urged Mrs Crosbie to do all she could to help protect our farmers and consumers from a flood of poor quality food products.”

FUW Anglesey County Vice Chairman William Spencer Hughes added: “We work very hard and to very strict rules and regulations. Some of the food that could land on our supermarket shelves from abroad will have been produced to standards that are illegal here. It may make these food items cheaper in some cases, but it’s a false economy given that would undermine our own food security, increase environmental damage and food miles and fail to protect our consumers. As food producers, we are committed to keeping up standards. Our way of producing food in a safe and sustainable way must be protected.” 

Business ‘hanging in the balance’ following attacks on pedigree Jacob sheep

It was going to be a day like any other for Esther Howie and her flock of sheep from Anglesey. Until lunch time at least, when she went for her routine check-up on the family Jacob's flock. Something wasn’t as it was supposed to be - the sheep had been badly injured.

The Howie family moved to a holding near Rhosmeirch 7 years ago and have put a lot of time, effort and money into improving and maintaining the land. Both Esther and her husband Neil also work extra jobs to support their life-long dream of having a smallholding. 

Esther already had a flock of pedigree Jacob sheep when they moved to the island and has since added a few Shetland sheep into the mix. Having been busy building up her Jacob flock for over 12 years now, she breeds primarily for wool to support her start-up business Tyddynys. As such, she only lambs a few selected ewes each year, carefully choosing which ewes to put to which ram for improving fleece for the craft industry. 

So it came as a huge shock when she found out that her flock had been attacked by a dog, leaving her devastated and the business hanging in the balance.

Speaking from her holding, she says: “My main holding is on Anglesey, but a while back I was offered a piece of land to graze near Bangor - great piece for my hill sheep, who are really not that impressed with the terrain at home. 

“It’s a good sized piece of land with a nice big shelter. The landlady lives on one side and a friend on the other to keep an eye on the ewes for me when I can’t be there. I moved my Jacob ewes up there for the winter and they were thriving.  

“Until January this year. I went up for my usual visit during my lunch hour at work and noticed that a mule ewe - my landlady’s adopted pet lamb that now lives with us - had fresh blood coming through her fleece.” 

Not sure what had happened but suspecting the sheep had been attacked Esther checked the field. She said: “It looked like one of the lambs had been attacked, but we’ve never had any experience of this to date. 

“The gate into the field is locked and it is the only entrance. The field runs parallel to the A55 so there would be no reason for anyone to be in there. I thought maybe the ewe had been caught in the hedge or fence somewhere and injured herself. I walked the full perimeter of the field checking for fleece in the hedges - knowing that this was going to be unlikely as we had only recently had them cut.” 

About two thirds of her way around she found a large area of grass in the centre of the field that was strewn with clumps of fleece. There was really no mistaking what had happened. 

“I contacted the police and was quite shaken that this could have happened in a seemingly safe and protected area. I had 11 ewes in that field - 4 of them had injuries - significant injuries that I couldn’t treat with a bit of spray alone. 

‘Follow up-to-date official advice’, FUW urges members in light of Coronavirus crisis

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding members to follow the latest advice from Public Health Wales and Wales NHS on coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to minimise disease spread and reduce the risk of infection.  

Up-to-date information can be found here:  

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ 

https://phw.nhs.wales/news/public-health-wales-statement-on-novel-coronavirus-outbreak/

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “There is a huge amount of misinformation being published online, so it is important that advice from legitimate sources is followed.”  

Mr Roberts’ comments came after Twitter revealed it had recently had to take down a series of posts that were from a fake hospital giving out false advice. 

Some disease experts have suggested we are still to reach the peak season for coronavirus but hope to delay and flatten the peak, which will reduce the pressure on NHS Wales and minimise the impact of the virus.

“Should a member contact coronavirus, or be affected in some other way and there is a subsequent impact on the ability to undertake daily farm business then the FUW can look at this on a case-by-case basis and will provide support where possible,” said Glyn Roberts.

FUW Head of Policy Dr Nick Fenwick added: “We are liaising with the Welsh Government on what changes can be made in order to help the industry to complete and submit their SAF forms this year, during what can only be described as extraordinary circumstances. 

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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/