FUW to consult extensively with members on Welsh Government Sustainable Farming Scheme plans

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) is planning to hold meetings for members and other interested parties across Wales during the summer and into the autumn to discuss the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation.

The consultation, launched by Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths on Tuesday 9 July, outlines proposals for future farm and rural support which have been revised in light of the comments received in response to the 2018 Brexit and our Land consultation.

It proposes that future support should be designed around the principle of sustainability in a way which brings together the ‘wide-ranging and significant economic, environmental and social contribution or farmers’, through a single Sustainable Farming Scheme based on the principles of providing a meaningful and stable income stream; rewarding outcomes in a fair way; paying for both new and existing sustainable practices; and flexibility allowing it apply to every type of farm.

Responding to the launch of the consultation, Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts said:  “We welcome the fact that the consultation document acknowledges many of the concerns raised by respondents to last years Brexit and our Land consultation, and focuses on farmers and food producers.

Bike thefts - weekend raiders break into sheds and steal 4 quads in a night

Farmers in Flintshire have become victims of a professional gang of quad bike thieves, with more than £15,000 of ATVs stolen in one night.  

FUW member John Wrench, a beef and arable farmer, of Beeches Farm,  Hawarden, discovered the theft of his 2011 Yamaha Grizzly 350, worth £2500, at the same time as three other bikes were taken when six farms in the same area were robbed. 

“The worst thing is that the thieves broke through a security door and roller shutter to get into the shed the bike was kept in, there’s no way we could have prevented the theft,” said John.”It was definitely a professional job.

“It seems they walked through the fields, cutting padlock and chains on six gates and used any tools that they could find to break in,” said John. “The damage was even more annoying than losing the bike, so much so that we shall not be replacing it. We’re going to use an old small 4x4 instead,” he said.  

Meanwhile at the Llanwrst Show, another FUW member, Andy Hughes, was showing a new anti-theft device he has developed to reduce the risk of robbery. The QUADCLAW is hand fabricated in Andy’s workshop at Brynford, Holywell.  “The idea is to reduce the chance of losing your expensive bike from chance thieves,” he said. “There’s been a lot of interest in the claw, the increase in ATVs being stolen is worrying for everyone.”

Whew - hot work ahead for Welsh open blade shearers at World Championships

Rheinallt Hughes, President of Denbighshire Farmers’ Union of Wales and the chairman of the union’s Hill Farming and Marginal Land Committee is a cut above the rest.

Rheinallt, of Llanarmon DC, Llangollen, has just won a place at the Welsh Open Blade Shearing Circuit and is representing Wales for the first time at a World Championships - in France on Saturday.  

He and fellow FUW member Elfed Jackson of Bethesda will be competing in the open blade championships on Saturday 6 July at La Dorate, near Limoges. It’s the first time in the competition for Rheinallt and the 10th for Elfed.

“We came out here last week to acclimatise to the conditions, which is just as well. It has been 40 degrees over here,” said Rheinallt.

FUW President Glyn Roberts wished him well: “Rheinallt puts his all into his work with the union and I know that he will do us proud this weekend.” 

Rheinallt, together with his family, farms approximately 980 acres at Tu Hwnt i’r Afon, Llanarmon DC, Croesoswallt, of which 240 acres are owned and 720 acres rented. 400 acres are in SSSI (moorland) and they are in Glastir and Glastir Advanced.

The family have a flock of 300 Welsh Mule Ewes  and also have a flock of 1300 Welsh Mountain Ewes. The farm is also home to a herd of 20 suckler cows  He and his wife Liz, who is also out in France with the team,  also run a Holiday Cottage Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Welsh Farmer’s Friend - Abi honoured by FUW

 

Abi Kay, who has been Farmers Guardian chief reporter since September 2016, was honoured for her exceptional work by the Farmers’ Union of Wales with the Bob Davies Memorial award. 

The award is offered to a media personality who has raised the public profile of Welsh farming every year.

A former member of the NFU politics team in London, and a long-term Parliamentary aide in Westminster before that, she has spearheaded FG's coverage of politics and regulatory affairs in Wales and across the UK during her time with the publication. She also founded FG's hugely popular Brexit hub online.

Presenting her with the award, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Abi has been a tremendous force in bringing Welsh agriculture and the politics associated with it to the forefront of people’s minds - in print and online. 

“Her way of holding politicians to account, asking the hard-hitting questions and sympathetically reporting the lives of those who keep the wheels of our Welsh rural economy running is a credit not just to the Farmers Guardian, but to journalism in general.

FUW Ceredigion AGM puts Mental Health and Farming Matters on the agenda

The Ceredigion branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales is putting mental health and farming matters firmly on the agenda at the up-coming Annual General meeting.

The event, which is held on Tuesday 9 July at 7.30pm at the Moody Cow, Llwyncelyn, will hear from DPJ Foundation founder Emma Picton-Jones and give members the opportunity to discuss the most critical farming issues in an informal setting.

FUW welcomes moves to increase supply chain transparency

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed moves by the European Commission, which aim to increase transparency in the supply chain, by improving the ways in which prices are recorded and reported.

In 2016, an EU Agricultural Markets Task Force (AMTF) was established to examine the role of primary producers in the wider food supply chain.  In 2017, following the recommendations of the AMTF, the Commission launched a consultation on the improvement of the food supply which covered three elements: unfair trading practices, producer cooperation, and market transparency. 

Having previously banned unfair trading practises and having providing mechanisms for improved co-operation, this latest consultation  seeks to improve fairness in the food supply chain by introducing greater transparency in the way prices are reported throughout the chain. 

“Tools, such as the Eurostat tool launched in 2017, aid transparency by helping demonstrate how price rises and falls are transmitted from one part of the supply chain to the other and what impact this has on each constituent element and how quickly.   

“However, at present, the EU only provides supply chain information such as producer and consumer prices and little information is provided on other supply chain elements,” said FUW Senior Policy Officer Dr Hazel Wright.

If adopted, the change would help address this problem by covering the meat, eggs, dairy, fruit and vegetables, arable crops, sugar, and olive oil sectors and each Member State will be responsible for the collection of price and market data.

"While we will not be subject to these changes if we leave the EU with no deal at the end of October, such transparency will be of huge benefit for UK farmers both as a benchmark and for those exporting to the EU.

FUW holds #FarmingMatters meeting with Russell George AM

The Montgomeryshire branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales has held positive talks with local AM Russell George, discussing the most critical #FarmingMatters.

Top of the agenda were farm thefts, livestock worrying, the introduction of NVZ’s in the county, as well as the future of farming in light of Brexit.

Speaking after the meeting, FUW Montgomeryshire County Executive Officer Emyr Wyn Davies said: “We had a really good meeting with Russell George and discussed the most critical farming matters.

“Our members are feeling increasingly stressed. An increase in farm thefts, livestock attacks and the continued uncertainty for the future of our sector, are all things that play on farmers minds.

“It seems that rural communities across Wales are being thrown to the wolves by the ongoing Brexit car crash, and we need more than just vague reassurances. Our farmers can’t plan for the future without knowing what market they are selling to, and who their customers are. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brexit Warnings Still Relevant three years on - Says FUW

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Future payments must be capped at far lower level says FUW

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FUW Calls for TB Taskforce Following Compensation Review

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

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

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

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

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

FUW President honoured by Gorsedd of Bards

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

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

Farming’s key role in tackling climate change

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

New campaign aims to tackle dog attacks on livestock

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

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Eat Welsh lamb and beef - help save the planet !

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

‘It’s okay to talk’

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

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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/