FUW INSURANCE SERVICES APPOINT TWO NEW AREA OFFICERS IN POWYS

The treasurer of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) and a farmer’s wife have been appointed new area officers in Powys by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
Fifty-one-year-old David Powell, of Y Fan, Llanidloes, was made RWAS’ joint honorary treasurer in 2004 and honorary treasurer three years later. He will cover Radnorshire for FUW Insurance Services.
Farmer’s wife Julie Phillips, 30, of Upper Chapel, Brecon, was a Lantra administrator for eight years before joining the FUW. She will cover Breconshire.
Mr Powell was employed by HSBC Bank since leaving school and was their senior commercial manager, based at Llandrindod Wells, before he joined the FUW.
FUW business development director Emyr James said both appointments will boost the union’s image in Powys and give further support to the good work of the union’s county executive officer Aled Jones.
"FUW Insurance Services are now insurance brokers in their own right. We use a panel of agricultural insurance providers to ensure members receive the best possible protection at a competitive price.
"If you haven’t insured with us recently, why not ask David Powell or Julie Phillips for a quote - you may be pleasantly surprised."
David can be contacted on 07794 314 542 and Julie on 07890 511 527. Both are also contactable on 01982 553 406.

FUW OFFERS WARM WELCOME AND HOST OF EVENTS AT EISTEDDFOD

Members of the Farmers’ Union of Wales throughout Meirionnydd have donated nearly £1,000 to provide the prose medal and the winner’s £750 prize-money at the National Eisteddfod in Bala this week (August 1-8).

The prose medal ceremony takes place at 4.30pm on Wednesday, August 5 and competitors were requested to submit a volume of work with "texture" as its theme.

"We sent a letter out to members seeking contributions for this very prestigious prize and the cash just rolled in," said FUW’s Meirionnydd county executive officer Huw Jones.

"I am extremely grateful for all their contributions towards one of the eisteddfod’s top awards and we hope it goes to a very worthy winner."

A warm welcome awaits members, supporters and friends at the FUW stand (No 641-642) on the Maes where a host of events will be staged throughout the week.

"The stand is situated in a convenient spot near the main pavilion and is an excellent chance to call in for a cup of tea and a chat at the same time as enjoying the numerous displays and events we have organised," said Mr Jones.

Throughout the week keen eisteddfodwyr Aeryn Jones, of Dinmael, near Corwen, will be showing items from his collection of old agricultural tools which will sure to be a major talking point.

Also, there will be a photographic exhibition of FUW members by Chris Clunn, a professional photographer who now lives in Maentwrog.

"The photographs are only a small example of Chris’s work and interest and he would be more than happy to visit and photograph other union members within Merioneth any time in the future," said Mr Jones.

On Monday and Wednesday, Rhian Owen, from Aberdyfi, will be present on the stand to show how to cut up a lamb. Rhian works full time in her family’s shop, Cigydd Aberdyfi, and won the title of Young Butcher of the Year throughout Wales in 2006.

The shop was bought by her father, FUW member Dewi Owen and family, Esgairgyfela Farm, Aberdyfi, in 2005 and they clinched one of the True Taste awards in 2007.

On Wednesday, Aled Owen, Penyfed, Ty Nant, near Corwen, an expert in the field of sheepdog trials will visit the stand. He has won numerous prizes as a trialist, including the world championship in 2002 and 2008.

On Thursday, there will be a special visit by a local girl who became famous recently. Elin Haf Davies was part of the first female crew to sail across the Indian Ocean last month.

The girls, who call themselves the "Ocean Angels", were the first crew to row 3,720 miles across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Mauritius, taking 79 days to do so.

"They have raised a considerable amount of money for the Breast Cancer Care charity and people will have a further opportunity to donate to this important charity during Elin’s visit," said Mr Jones

Also on Wednesday, Gwenan Pawee, originally from Llwyngwgan Farm, near Llangwm, will demonstrate the craft of wool spinning and this again is sure to attract much interest.

Leaflets and information about the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) charity will also be available throughout the week to explain the work that it does and the help that is available to agricultural families.

"This charity receives the FUW’s full support and every attempt is made to help in any way," Mr Jones added.

PEMBROKESHIRE FREELANCE IS FUW JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Freelance agricultural journalist Meyrick Brown is the Farmers’ Union of Wales Agricultural Journalist of the Year for 2009.

Meyrick, of Rhosgranog House, Llandeloy, Haverfordwest, has a lifetime’s practical experience of dairy, beef and arable farming, drawing on his depth of knowledge to become a highly respected journalist covering a range of topical issues and farming industry developments, as well as highlighting farmer success stories.

He writes regularly for the Western Mail and Carmarthen Journal, provides a weekly column for the Observer series in Pembrokeshire and contributes to the Pembrokeshire Farmer, Pembrokeshire Life and Farmers Guardian. He has also assisted in TV and radio research.

In 2006 his "outstanding contribution to the promotion of agriculture in Pembrokeshire" was formally recognised and last year he received the Pembrokeshire Farmers Club Award "for services to agriculture".

Meyrick is married to Janet and the couple have two children - Helen, who is marketing manager for a company exporting medical products, and Angela, who is a ceramic artist and lecturer.

Announcing the winner, FUW president Gareth Vaughan said Meyrick was a very worthy candidate for the award.

"His aim is, and has always been, to widely promote all that is best in agriculture and to draw public attention to matters causing stress among vulnerable sectors of the industry."

The annual award - a shepherd’s crook - is usually produced by prize-winning Aberystwyth crook maker Hywel Evans but in a departure from tradition Meyrick’s crook was previously owned by S4C’s Cefn Gwlad presenter Dai Jones, Llanilar, who donated it to a recent auction and knocked it down to the highest bidder - a member of the FUW staff.

The auction followed a successful charity golf competition at Aberystwyth Golf Club and helped raise £6,000 towards Ceredigion’s host county appeal fund for next year’s Royal Welsh Show.

FUW SAYS DFB INQUIRY IS MAJOR STEP FORWARD

Westminster’s environment, food and rural affairs committee’s decision to examine the background and implications of Dairy Farmers of Britain’s (DFB) collapse was described today as a significant move towards answering Welsh dairy producers’ concerns.

“Many questions need answering following DFB’s demise which continues to have a devastating impact for hundreds of affected farmers and former employees of the cooperative,” said FUW milk committee chairman Eifion Huws.

“We therefore welcome this inquiry and plan to participate to clearly express our members’ numerous concerns about DFB’s demise.”

The committee will consider:

  • the impact of DFB’s collapse on dairy farmers and the industry;
  • the governance and accountability structures of DFB;
  • Defra’s response to DFB’s collapse; and
  • the causes and lessons to be learned from the collapse.

The committee has invited written submissions from interested parties by Monday August 31 and will accept further submissions after a receivers’ meeting on September 7. A programme of oral evidence will be announced in due course.

Anglesey farmer Mr Huws was a member of an FUW delegation that demanded such an inquiry during meetings with Defra minister Jim Fitzpatrick and members of all political parties.

Speaking after a meeting at the Royal Welsh show with Clwyd West MP David Jones to discuss the matter, Mr Huws added: “DFB’s failure created massive financial damage for farmers and employees throughout Wales and beyond with 1,800 farmers seriously affected.

“There is also grave concern that DFB’s receivers may still pursue some producers who had effectively underwritten the cooperative.

“We hope the inquiry will bring much needed clarity in terms of the events that led up to this catastrophic collapse.”

Mr Jones, whose constituency was one of the worst hit by the collapse, said: “A large number of questions arise as a consequence of the collapse of DFB and I am very pleased that the EFRA Select Committee has announced this important inquiry.”

FUW LEADERS DISCUSS MILK CRISIS AT COMMONS TALKS

Farmers’ Union of Wales leaders have met the Westminster food, farming and environment minister Jim Fitzpatrick and numerous Welsh MPs of all four main parties to discuss issues of concern to dairy farmers including the recent collapse of the Dairy Farmers of Britain farmers’ cooperative.

Lengthy discussions took place at separate meetings with the FUW which was represented by union president Gareth Vaughan, milk committee chairman Eifion Huws and two dairy farmers from Powys and Anglesey.

They met Anglesey MP Albert Owen, who organised a cross-party meeting, Mr Fitzpatrick and several other Welsh MPs. The other meeting, organised by shadow Welsh minister and Clwyd West MP David Jones, was also attended by shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan.

The union delegation expressed their concerns about the future of the industry and pressed for an enquiry into the problems building up to the closure of Dairy Farmers of Britain. They were pleased to learn that Labour were in full support of keeping the Milk Quota in future.

Mr Vaughan felt the meetings had been very constructive and productive and was pleased discussions had also taken place into the possibility of an Ombudsman being appointed for the farming industry.

"We are extremely grateful to Mr Owen and Mr Jones for their support and for organising the meetings and are also appreciative to all the other MPs who attended and gave their valuable time to meet representatives from the union and dairy sector."

Mr Jones said later that the FUW delegation spent an hour discussing DFB’s failure and other issues of current concern, including electronic identification of sheep. "Many farmers in Wales and the north of England have lost large sums of money as a result of DFB’s collapse.

"Some are now facing heavy claims by the receivers under the terms of their guarantees. It is hard to see how the co-operative could have collapsed with such large debts without warning signs becoming apparent long before.

"I believe that an inquiry into DFB’s failure is called for and I will continue to press for one in Parliament."

FUW CARDS COULD MEAN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH

THE Farmers’ Union of Wales will be on hand to give out Ordnance Survey (OS) grid references to Royal Welsh show visitors next week in an exercise that could mean the difference between life and death.

In a joint venture with Wales Air Ambulance, the FUW has produced cards with space for information such as a person’s home postcode and OS grid reference. The card can then be kept near the telephone at the home address to be used in an emergency.

Due to Wales’ scattered population and diverse landscape, many in Wales live in isolated locations far from an accident and emergency service and air ambulances can sometimes reach casualties far quicker than any other response team on the ground.

It is widely believed that a patient’s chances of survival and early recovery are increased if they receive the right care within the first hour, otherwise known as the Golden Hour.

The quick response times and the expert medical care provided by the Wales Air Ambulance crews across Wales ensure that this Golden Hour is achieved every time.

Issuing the cards was the brainchild of the FUW’s Caernarfonshire area officer Dafydd Jones, who lives in the remote village of Ysbyty Ifan, near Betws y Coed.

Following a talk with Tomos Hughes, of the Uwchaled first response team, the FUW printed the cards with the logo: " Ble Ydych Chi - Where are You" with a blank space to fill the post code and the Ordnance Survey grid reference.

Mr Jones said: "As people living in the countryside, especially in a remote part of Wales, we recognise the importance of the Air Ambulance service and also the region’s police helicopter service. They have become a major part of the emergency services’ response team.

"By now we all know of someone who has been in an unfortunate situation needing the service of the Air Ambulance, and if it wasn’t for their quick response and the shortening of travelling time some of those people would not be here today.

"Indeed, the fast response of these services can be the difference between life and death."

A Wales Air Ambulance spokesman said: "Wales Air Ambulance helps to save time, and save lives. You can help too by knowing your grid reference.

"Time really matters in an emergency and Wales Air Ambulance can reach any part of the country within 20 minutes. The grid reference initiative from the FUW will also raise awareness of the work our air ambulance crews do in remote farming areas."

FUW ACCUSES PM OF LACKING INTEREST IN FARMERS’ EID CONCERNS

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has accused the Prime Minister of lacking interest in the plight of Welsh sheep farmers after he refused to condemn the EU for deciding to introduce the compulsory electronic identification (EID) of sheep after 2010.

Nearly 400 farmers and politicians have signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street website urging Mr Brown to publicly condemn the EU for its decision which will place UK farmers at an unfair disadvantage compared with importers into the EU who only have to comply with standards well below those required of UK farmers.

The petition, in the name of FUW vice president Glyn Roberts, states that compulsory EID means that the increasing financial and practical burdens placed upon UK farmers will put them at a competitive disadvantage compared with importers into the EU.

Copies of the petition, which calls on the EU to reverse it decision, have been signed by a further 400 FUW members at the union’s 12 county offices throughout Wales.

The petition stresses the technology used for sheep EID has major flaws, including reliability, which brings into question the credibility of the decision.

It adds: "The Government should therefore fight for all the concessions permitted, while making it clear that the actions of the EC are premature, disproportionate, and unjust for the UK sheep industry."

But in a Government response to the petition the demand for the Prime Minister to publicly condemn the EU’s decision has been ignored.

The Government merely admits it is concerned about the disproportionate costs and benefits of individual recording and points out that it has asked the European Commission to review the appropriate Regulation to check whether its objectives are being met in the most cost effective way.

It adds that new rules were agreed in 2003 in a bid to phase in improvements to EU sheep identification and tracking arrangements following the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.

"Defra has worked very closely with the industry since 2003, when the Regulation was first adopted, and will continue to work closely with them with regard to implementation," states the Government’s response.

"They have identified there are practical issues with implementation, and Defra will work with them to develop a system which is as practical as possible and that industry can make work."

Mr Roberts said: "Naturally, we are very disappointed by the Government’s response and the Prime Minister’s apparent refusal to condemn the EU’s decision on this matter.

"It is well established that Ministers from all of UK’s devolved regions are opposed to the Regulation, so why not speak out against the railroading of EID regulations by the EU?

"I fully appreciate that there are negotiations going on behind the scenes, but those should be based on the evidence and rational arguments put forward by the FUW and others over the years and if the Commission and Member States dig their heels in for political, rather than rational reasons, that behaviour should also be criticised.

"There is now widespread opposition to EID amongst sheep farmers throughout the EU, and it is about time somebody pointed out that the majority of EU farming ministers have failed their own farmers.

"Those in power should publicly speak out against this and the many other ridiculous and irrational Regulations we have to face, rather than being afraid to rock the boat."

FUW SAYS EID MEASURES ARE SMALL CONCESSIONS

European Commission proposals to ease the administrative burden on farmers after electronic identification (EID) of sheep and goats is introduced next year were described by the Farmers’ Union of Wales today as small concessions.

Welcoming the proposals, the chairman of the union’s hill farming committee Derek Morgan said: "This is one of the concessions we lobbied the Commission and its Joint Research Centre for during their visit to Wales in February, and I am glad an element of commonsense has been allowed to prevail.

"The provision will be a significant help for those sending sheep to market, as it will allow market operators to do the electronic reading and reporting for them.

"However, it is a small concession in the grander scheme of things, particularly as farmers sending sheep out on tack or between holdings will still have to individually record and report movements themselves."

The EC proposals include: electronic reading of animals at critical control points (eg markets, slaughter houses) instead of at each single farm; a simplified procedure for retagging of animals; and reducing information obligations for the annual inventory.

EID will become obligatory for most lambs born after December 31, 2009 and from 2011 the individual identity of each sheep or goat will be recorded whenever they move.

FUW LEADERS MEET WELSH MPS AT WESTMINSTER OVER DFB COLLAPSE

A four-man delegation from the Farmers’ Union of Wales led by its president will meet Welsh MPs at Westminster on Wednesday (July 15) to discuss the serious concerns of the Welsh dairy sector following the collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFB).

Mr Vaughan will be joined by the union’s milk committee chairman, Anglesey dairy farmer Eifion Huws, who, as a DFB member, has lost tens of thousands of pounds after the farmers’ cooperative suddenly went into receivership.

Together with FUW policy director Nick Fenwick and Powys dairy farmer Bryan Jones, they will attend separate meetings organised by Anglesey’s Labour MP Albert Owen and shadow Welsh minister and Clwyd West MP David Jones.

Mr Owen has already visited Mr Huws’s farm for a first-hand overview of the effects of DFB’s collapse on the Welsh dairy sector and David Jones has questioned Commons leader Harriet Harman and Defra minister Hilary Benn about the circumstances surrounding the co-operative’s crash.

Around 1,800 farmers throughout Wales and Northern England have lost millions of pounds as a consequence of DFB’s receivership, both in terms of lost revenue and capital. Now they have been warned by the receivers that they may be liable on guarantees they signed when they joined the group.

Mr Vaughan said today: "DFB’s collapse has been disastrous for numerous people involved in the Welsh dairy industry who are now struggling to remain in business.

"Their plight just keeps getting worse especially after the news that the receiver may pursue them on their guarantees.

"We will be urging the MPs to demand that the Government carries out a full inquiry into all the reasons for DFB’s collapse."

FUW WELCOMES ASSEMBLY’S HELP FOR WELSH DAIRY INDUSTRY

A package of Welsh Assembly Government measures to help the Welsh dairy industry received the firm support of the Farmers’ Union of Wales today.

Rural affairs minister Elin Jones announced that following the recent collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFoB) she could exercise some exceptional measures of flexibility within EU rules.

As a result, Welsh dairy producers who did not receive payment for milk supplied to DFoB in May and meet the conditions of the CAP Single Payment Scheme will, from October 16, receive a 70% advance on the payment they would normally be paid from December.

"During a recent meeting with Elin Jones we agreed that such an advance payment should be made in order to help those who did not receive payment for their milk following the collapse of DFB, and we are very glad she has taken the matter forward in this way," said FUW’s milk and dairy produce committee chairman Eifion Huws.

Ms Jones also announced the Assembly had joined forces with DairyCo - the national levy board for the dairy industry - to jointly fund a new high-level co-ordinator post to work on behalf of dairy farmers in Wales.

The post, to be advertised nationally shortly, will ensure that in future Welsh dairy farmers receive a range of complementary support, assistance and strategic direction.

"The minister’s decision to work with DairyCo and appoint a head of dairy development for Wales is a helpful measure at a crucial time for the sector," Mr Huws added.

Ms Jones said the 70 per cent advance of the full 2009 Single Payment could only be made once all validation checks have been successfully completed.

FUW MEMBER’S PLIGHT WINS AM SUPPORT

An Aberconwy tenant farmer has complained to his local AM that he had still not received a big Tir Gofal payment expected last January and later promised it would be paid into his bank account a month ago.

Farmers’ Union of Wales member Gwynedd Evans, of Bryn Bras, Padog, Betws y Coed, met Gareth Jones AM with union officials and raised the issue together with other matters including the need for common land to be included in the proposed Glastir scheme as soon as possible.

The cost of electronic tagging (EID) of sheep and the proposed EU legislation controlling private water supplies was also discussed.

Mr Evans said he was pleased that Mr Jones and Wales MEP Jill Evans were already pursuing with the Welsh Assembly Government the possible derogation of the water supplies legislation.

But after his substantial Tir Gofal payment had been held up since January due to cross compliance red tape he claimed he had been promised it had been sorted out and the payment would be in his bank account a last month.

However, it has still not arrived and he and his family are finding it difficult to manage because he is investing in a new slurry pit which must be completed in time for the winter housing of his suckler cow herd.

Mr Jones assured Mr Evans he would raise the non-payment issue with the Assembly’s rural affairs minister Elin Jones.

FUW HONOURS TWO WELSH BLACK CATTLE BREEDERS

Two well-known Welsh Black Cattle breeders - both stalwarts of the Farmers’ Union of Wales - were presented with awards during the union’s annual general meeting today in recognition of their lifelong work.

Trefor Jones, founder of the Cwmcae Herd of Welsh Blacks at Llandre, Bow Street, near Aberystwyth, was recently installed as the breed society’s president. He has exported cattle and sheep to Europe and is a mine of information on the problems of exporting cattle because of TB and other restrictions.

He is always willing to assist and promote the FUW and has exhibited his prize bulls at both Stradey Park and the Millennium Stadium to stress the union’s support for Welsh Beef when the Scarlets and Wales played against the All Blacks.

Mr Jones always supports local and national shows and has won numerous prizes including the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s beef champion in 2005.

Known to all as Trefor Cwmcae, he is a past chairman of the FUW’s Ceredigion branch and is currently one of the county’s delegates on the FUW Grand Council and Ceredigion’s representative on the union’s central livestock, wool and marts committee.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan presented him with the award in recognition of the agricultural industry in Wales.

Mr Vaughan also presented Richard ap Simon Jones, of Ysguboriau, Tywyn, with an award in recognition of services to the FUW and the agricultural industry in Wales.

Mr ap Simon Jones has been a leading figure of the FUW since its formation 54 years ago and is now regarded as a father figure of the union. He was national vice president between 1976 and 1980 - a crucial period in the development of the FUW when it was officially recognised by the government.

For almost the whole of his farming life in Ysguboriau, he has maintained unstinting loyalty to the union, regularly attending county and national meetings, and he still attends the county committee in Dolgellau and the FUW Grand Council as a life member.

He has made an outstanding contribution to the FUW and the agricultural industry, and was awarded the MBE for his services in the early 1980s. During the early 1990s, he became an influential chairman of the Gwynedd Flood Defence Committee, a post he held for 11 years.

He has also been a leading member of the Welsh Black Cattle Society - having been a former president and chaired its governing council for 12 years.

He has been a cattle judge at major agricultural shows - the Royal Welsh Show, the Royal Show, and Royal Highland Show - and is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies.

He began farming Ysguboriau in 1952 after marrying Gwenda Jones, whose family had run the farm since the beginning of the last century. Mr R ap Simon Jones has now retired from farming and the land at Ysguboriau, including adjoining farms, is farmed separately by sons William and Simon Jones who are also renowned stockmen.

In 1996, William won the supreme interbreed champion at the Royal Welsh Show with his Welsh Black cow and Simon, whose main interest is the sheep enterprise, was UK Shepherd of the Year in 1981.

GARETH VAUGHAN RE-ELECTED AS FUW PRESIDENT

Gareth Vaughan was re-elected for the sixth successive time as president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales during the organisation’s council meeting in Aberystwyth this afternoon (Tuesday, June 16).

Mr Vaughan, who begins his seventh year in office, won the overwhelming confidence of the union's members when he was elected by delegates from all of the union's 12 county branches for the top post.

"I’m delighted to be re-elected as president once again and I look forward to driving forward the aims and ambitions of the FUW for another year in what is expected to be a challenging time for the industry," he said.

"We have seen long overdue improvements to livestock prices over the past 12 months - due primarily to the weakness of the pound - but these will have to be sustained for many years if the industry is to make up for what have been dire returns for more than a decade."

Born in Llanidloes in 1941, Mr Vaughan attended Manledd Primary and Llanidloes High Schools.

He left at the age of 15 to work on the family farm, and joined Llangurig Young Farmers Club where his interests included public speaking and drama. He runs a traditional beef and sheep unit at Cwmyrhiewdre Farm, Dolfor, near Newtown.

He farms in partnership with his wife of over 40 years, Audrey, and 11 years ago his daughter Catherine and son-in-law Brian joined the business.

Over the years the family has carried out extensive improvements, with shelter belts, new buildings, land drainage and farm road layouts. Some 2,000 metres of new hedgerow has been planted with the aid of grants from Radnor ESA.

Other hedge improvements were undertaken with the assistance of the Countryside Council for Wales.

Mr Vaughan has been an active member of the FUW for many years. He was chairman of the Newtown branch in 1988-89 and Montgomeryshire county chairman from 1991-93.

He has represented the county on the union’s Grand Council and land use and parliamentary committee, the British Wool Marketing Board, the Meat and Livestock Commission liaison committee and the Agricultural Dwellinghouse Committee.

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

Mr Vaughan places great importance on supporting the local community and is involved with his local agricultural show, new hall committee and other local charities.

FUW LEADER CONDEMNS SCRAPPING OF TIR MYNDD AGRI-ENVIRO SCHEME

The Farmers’ Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan revealed today he was duty bound to condemn the Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to scrap the Tir Mynydd scheme of payments to farmers within Less Favoured Areas.

"While the Union commends the position taken by the Assembly on Bovine TB, there is one recent WAG decision that we cannot condone and that is the one to abandon Tir Mynydd," Mr Vaughan told the union’s annual general meeting in Aberystwyth.

"This decision brings to an end a policy based upon principles established more than sixty years ago under the 1946 Hill Farming Act - principles that recognise the fundamental importance of maintaining Wales’s farming and rural communities in order to avoid deprivation, land abandonment, and rural depopulation.

"The abandonment of those principles in favour of environmental measures is a position that our members fundamentally oppose, whether changes in focus are driven by the European Commission or by the Assembly Government, and over recent weeks I have been approached by countless numbers of farmers who believe that their businesses and communities are threatened by the recent decision.

"The truth of the matter is that rural populations are an intrinsic part of the environment - they have created the environment. They play a key role in maintaining the environment. And the diversity of wildlife and biodiversity that we enjoy exists not in spite of farming, but because of farming."

Mr Vaughan stressed that the environment relied upon farming families and the majority of farming families relied significantly on the Tir Mynydd scheme, one of five agri-environment schemes in Wales due to be replaced by one scheme called Glastir from 2012.

"These families may well be threatened unless the new Glastir scheme is carefully crafted in a way that ensures that it is not overly prescriptive or bureaucratic and, above all else, fills the gulf created by the abandonment of half a century of handicap payments.

"We also have major concerns about the practicality for the Assembly of implementing the Glastir scheme, and I sincerely hope that sufficient staff will be available to produce perhaps as many as sixteen thousand detailed farm maps and agreements, while undertaking as many as 65 private interviews with farmers every single working day during the transition period.

"As part of the stakeholder group that will help formulate the Glastir scheme, the union is of course committed to doing all it can to ensure that Glastir is as practical and beneficial as is possible.

"However, be in no doubt that the FUW, like thousands of farmers across Wales, has major concerns regarding the Glastir scheme and the impact it will have on our rural communities. I am duty bound to condemn the decision to abolish Tir Mynydd."

Mr Vaughan reminded delegates there was no animal disease in Wales more concerning than bovine TB which costs the industry and taxpayers millions of pounds each year, and causes untold stress and suffering for all concerned.

"Following years of lobbying by the FUW, the Welsh Assembly Government and members from all political parties have taken the decision to stand shoulder to shoulder on the issue of TB in badgers, and this sends out a clear lesson in maturity and honesty to those amongst our English neighbours who threaten to undermine the efficacy of future Welsh and UK TB control measures.

"For too many years politicians have buried uncomfortable truths about TB in wildlife, pandering to animal rights extremists who, through threats and misinformation, have managed to steer government policy away from what is in the best interests of human health and the taxpayer.

"In Wales, such attempts to corrupt the democratic process are more common than ever - for example, in one leaflet that has been widely distributed by Badger Watch and Rescue Dyfed, no less than eight out of ten so called ‘answers’ to commonly asked questions are either grossly misleading or plain untrue.

"Such campaigns are deliberately designed to mislead members of the general public into lobbying against a badger cull, and I therefore hope that the Assembly’s Rural Affairs Minister and her colleagues will stand up to such disgraceful campaigns of misinformation.

"Because what has been shown in Wales is that, by grasping the nettle, by refusing to allow animal rights extremists to divide and conquer, and by being honest with the general public about the role that badgers play in transmitting TB, ways forward can be found that will reduce incidences of disease in cattle and wildlife.

"I therefore, once again, congratulate the majority of National Assembly Members, the Welsh Assembly Government, and, in particular, the Minister for Rural Affairs for the courageous stance that has been taken on TB.

"That stance stands in stark contrast to the cowardly approach that has been adopted in England - an approach based on cowering in the face of intimidation from animal rights extremists and hiding behind one ridiculously decisive statement published in the Final Report of the Independent Science Group on TB that is an embarrassment to the scientific community, and is contradicted by scientific evidence from Great Britain and around the globe.

"The Defra approach not only shows a disregard for animal and human health, but also poses a wider risk of TB transmission from wildlife and the environment, as shown by the recent escalation of TB cases in humans and animals - and all in a world in which the vaccination of children against tuberculosis is no longer routine.

"I therefore, on behalf of our cross border farms, on behalf of farmers throughout the UK, and on behalf of the future health of our cattle, our wildlife, and our progeny, call on Defra to do the honourable thing with regard to TB, rather than risk dragging the whole of the UK down."

FOOD MILES FEARS FOLLOWING MILK BOTTLING PLANT CLOSURE

The Farmers' Union of Wales warned today that the closure of the only major milk bottling plant in Wales could result in a withdrawal of bulk tanker collections from many dairy farms in remote areas.

"Today’s closure by the receivers of Dairy Farmers of Britain’s Bridgend plant is a great shame for the industry," said Eifion Huws, chairman of the union’s milk and dairy produce committee.

"It gives us great cause for concern that milk collections from small farms in remote areas will be threatened. Even before today’s closure of the Bridgend plant many dairy farmers in West Wales were worried whether their milk would be picked up by tankers in future.

"I fear we could soon be left with the ridiculous situation of numerous farmers having to drive many miles to deliver their milk to processors and that milk then transported back for sale by retailers in the same localities.

"We are constantly being encouraged to cut down on food miles yet we are poised to increase food miles at a time when fuel costs are rising rapidly," added Mr Huws, who is also a victim of the DFB receivership as a member of the co-operative.

The Bridgend plant was closed with the loss of 279 jobs the day after receivers announced Milk Link Ltd had bought DFB’s cheese-producing creamery at Llandyrnog, Denbighshire, which employs 170.

FUW LEADER URGES BANKS TO SHOW GOODWILL AFTER DFB CRASH

A Welsh dairy farmers’ leader today demanded that banks must show the same goodwill as the Government showed them during the credit crunch following confirmation that the Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFB) milk co-operative had gone into receivership.

"The Government showed goodwill to the banks by helping to bale them out. Now the banks must repay that goodwill and stand by the members and employees of DFB," said the Farmers’ Union of Wales milk committee chairman Eifion Huws.

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

"It also has 1,800 farmer members across Great Britain who supply over one billion litres to the food and drink industry who now stand to lose many thousands of pounds," said Mr Huws, an Anglesey dairy farmer and DFB member.

He added: "This is a sad day for DFB members, its staff and all its suppliers and it may stop other groups in the industry from setting up co-operative ventures which the Government is constantly encouraging us to do.

"It is estimated that the average DFB member will lose around £14,000 for their May and early June milk amounting to around £21m in total - in addition to an average farmer investment of around £25,000 which has already been lost.

"HSBC are understood to be the dominant banker for DFB members and I believe they should think very long and hard about how to help members by offering interest free loans, for example.

"After all, the loss of a much-needed milk cheque is a huge blow to all our cashflows. The question must now be put - how many more farmers can be expected to sustain such a big blow to their livelihoods?

"We wonder what will be the effect of the availability of all the extra milk for which DFB members will now be looking for a market," he added.

FARMERS WARN ‘STOP GAMBLING WITH FUTURE BRITISH MILK SUPPLY’

Farming leaders from across the dairy industry have issued a call on retailers and the food service sector to take steps to secure the future of British supply. The call comes as many dairy farmers are once again being paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it.

In a letter to all the major retailers, discounters and major food service players the NFU, Farmers for Action, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, Dairy Farmers of Scotland, NFUS and the Farmers' Union of Wales have called for action to increase confidence among dairy farmers to stop the erosion of critical mass within the sector.

The industry-wide group says that everyone in the milk supply chain needs to make a fair profit and calls for retailers to stop gambling with security of milk supply. The letter asks for three commitments from the industry’s biggest customers:

_   Commitment to sourcing British dairy products.

_   Transparent and stable pricing mechanisms for liquid milk and cheese suppliers that offer producers a sustainable milk price.

_   Promotion of the Red Tractor on all own label, British dairy products.

The letter states: “Our message is very simple. If you want to guarantee a supply of quality British milk, cheese and dairy products you must take steps to secure it.”

Industry quotes:

NFU Dairy Board Chairman Gwyn Jones said:

“As British milk supply continues to fall, consumers are increasingly denied the opportunity of choice they deserve to purchase British dairy products; products which are produced to the highest welfare and environmental standards in the world.”

“Consumers are paying a fair price for British dairy products but that money is not distributed fairly down the supply chain. The difference between profit and loss for dairy farmers in this country is a small fraction of the overall margin on milk and dairy products, which could easily be afforded.”

Farmers For Action, Chairman David Handley said:

“In an unprecedented move by farmer organisations, this letter should leave no retailer or buyer in any doubt that we will no longer tolerate the current trend of low milk prices and the total imbalance of profits in the dairy chain.”

RABDF chairman, Lyndon Edwards said:

“British dairy farmers must receive a fair and sustainable price for their milk immediately; otherwise consumers will not have the option to buy fresh British milk in future.”

Dairy Farmers of Scotland Chairman, Iain Smith:

“Everyone involved should take this letter and its contents very seriously. Never before has there been such a level of discontent among dairy farmers –– not only in the UK –– but worldwide. UK milk buyers are only fooling themselves in using EU and world markets as benchmarks for prices if they are to expect a continued supply of milk.”

FUW Vice-President, Eifion Huws:

“The fact that our respective organisations have come together and issued this stark warning demonstrates the seriousness of the situation. We all know of the devastating consequences that have resulted from short-sighted decisions in the financial industry. We are calling on leaders in the dairy supply chain not to make similar mistakes that will have long term repercussions for British food and farming.”

Chairman, NFUS, Jimmy Mitchell:

“NFUS fully supports all producer organisations joining forces to promote the interests of all dairy farmers. We also believe strongly that the future of the British dairy industry depends on an effective supply chain which ensures fair returns for all parts of that chain. Only when this becomes a reality will producers have the confidence and enthusiasm to invest and reverse the decline in production.”

FUW WARNS PUBLIC BADGER WATCH LEAFLET IS MISLEADING

Farmers’ Union of Wales vice president Brian Walters today warned the general public not to be misled by a leaflet entitled "Stop the barbaric and senseless badger cull".

Responding angrily to the Badger Watch publication, Mr Walters, an organic farmer from West Wales, said: "The leaflet is so wildly inaccurate it begs the question that it is either drawn up by people incapable of understanding simple facts or it is deliberately dishonest."

Following numerous complaints about the leaflet - published by Badger Watch and Rescue Dyfed and widely circulated in the Dyfed area - the FUW has posted a three-page factsheet on its website highlighting why it believes claims made in the document are "untruthful".

"As far as I’m concerned, Badger Watch Dyfed should withdraw the leaflet and issue a public apology," said Mr Walters

"We all have the right to express our views, but to publish such statements in order to get the general public to lobby politicians is disgraceful and in my view highlights the depths to which some people will stoop to mislead public opinion."

The FUW’s factsheet, published in response to the leaflet campaign, claims that eight of the statements made in 10 "answers" to frequently asked questions are misleading.

Included among these are the claim that TB is spread almost exclusively from cattle to cattle, which the Advertising Standards Agency has already ruled breaches rules on "truthfulness" following a case brought by the FUW against the RSPCA more than three years ago.

The factsheet also highlights gross inaccuracies in the statistics used in the leaflet, stating that one figure quoted "is out by 500%".

"This is not the first time that an animal rights pressure group has been caught misleading the general public on the clear link between badgers, cattle and TB," said Mr Walters. "It is important that the general public scrutinise statements made by this type of organisation.

"Last year, Welsh families had to suffer the deaths of eight thousand cattle due to this disease epidemic, and it is high time that animal rights groups took their fair share of the responsibility.

"For years they have misled politicians and the general public into ignoring the epidemic in badgers, resulting in the death of tens of thousands of cattle, costing the taxpayer millions, and causing prolonged and agonising deaths for badgers.

"The majority of Welsh politicians from all parties have accepted the scientific evidence, and attempts to put the democratic process off course through campaigns of misinformation should be stamped out.

"To treat the general public with such contempt is frankly disgusting."

FUW TELLS TORIES SCRAPPING MILK QUOTA WOULD BE DEVASTATING

Welsh dairy farmers have told Conservative politicians the EU’s decision to scrap milk quotas by 2015 will have a destabilising effect on their sector of the industry.

Farmers’ Union of Wales leaders delivered the stark message when they met Assembly shadow rural affairs minister, North Wales AM Brynle Williams, and Welsh Conservative candidate for the European Elections Kay Swinburne on the dairy farm of union members Harry Williams and his son Robin at Cilcain, near Mold.

A number of important issues were raised affecting the current problems in the dairy industry and Dr Swinburne pledged that if elected on June 4 she would keep in regular contact with the FUW and its members to work for the benefit of Welsh agriculture.

Brynle Williams said Harry and Robin Williams had invested heavily in their farm over the past few years but the problems facing the dairy sector - decreasing farm gate prices and increasing production costs - were making it difficult for them to make a sensible return on their investment.

FUW milk and dairy committee chairman Eifion Huws reminded the gathering that the union’s president Gareth Vaughan had already called for a national debate on the impact abolishing milk quotas will have on the Welsh dairy sector.

Last November the 27 EU agriculture ministers agreed to lift quotas by one per cent per year before scrapping them altogether in 2014-2015.

"Mr Vaughan has also written to Assembly rural affairs minister Elin Jones informing her the issue has attracted growing attention on the Continent during recent months, and prompted significant debate at a meeting of the EU Council of Ministers," said Mr Huws.

"The FUW is well aware of growing concern amongst many farmers in Wales, and in other parts of the EU, that the full implications of the abandonment of the quota regime have not been properly recognised by the European Commission.

"Many believe that such a change would have a destabilising effect on an industry that is already suffering as a result of market volatility, and would have a particularly adverse impact for family farms.

                      MF


48                                                                                                                    02

 

"With the recent volatility of milk prices, there is a real need for the Welsh Assembly Government to engage in further discussions on the impact that abolishing the quota regime will have for the Welsh dairy sector," added Mr Huws, who runs a dairy farm on Anglesey.

FUW RAISES EID OBJECTIONS WITH EU ANIMAL HEALTH CHIEF

Welsh farmers' strong objections to EU plans to introduce electronic identification (EID) of sheep next year were hammered home in Brussels today by FUW deputy president Emyr Jones.Mr Jones and other representatives of Fairness for Farmers in Europe (FFE) outlined their strong objections to EID to the EU’s Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs (DG SANCO) which is responsible for introducing it on December 31 this year.

"We made it clear to Alberto Laddomada, DG SANCO’s Head of Unit for Animal Health, that there is now an almost unanimous acceptance across Europe that EID technology has serious problems associated with it in terms of implementing it on farms and in markets and slaughterhouses.

"I believe it is like forcing people to drive cars that have failed their MoTs. That is completely unacceptable when we are talking about animal health and welfare and disease control, not to mention the financial consequences of forcing people to use a costly technology that is not fit for purpose."

Mr Jones said recent statistics show sheep numbers in Wales fell by around 10 per cent between 2007 and 2008, while total EU sheep production fell by around 2.5 per cent during the same period.

"For many producers this regulation is likely to be the final straw, resulting in further reductions in flock sizes which in turn threatens the viability of the entire supply chain, especially in Wales," Mr Jones added.

NOMINATIONS INVITED FOR FUW’S PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTRYSIDE AWARD

Nominations are being invited for the Farmers’ Union of Wales Pembrokeshire branch’s 2009 Countryside Award which recognises the achievements of younger farmers in the county.

To be eligible for the award the nominee must be 40 years of age or under on January 1, 2009; actively involved in agricultural production or land management; and normally resident within Pembrokeshire.

"To ensure the future of the industry, it is essential that we acknowledge the hard work of younger farmers during these difficult times and nurture them," said county chairman Dafydd Williams.

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

A cash prize, perpetual trophy and a year’s free FUW membership will be awarded.

Further details and nomination forms can be obtained by telephoning the Pembrokeshire FUW Office on 01437 762913.

All nominations must be submitted by Friday, May 22, 2009.

The award has gained greater importance since Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones launched a consultation on support for young farmers at last year’s Royal Welsh Show.

She said all sectors need young people to bring new ideas, energy and enthusiasm, and farming is no exception.

Encouraging young entrants to the industry can not only bring innovation and enthusiasm to farming, but it is also important in sustaining rural communities and the Welsh culture.

The publication of the consultation meets a One Wales commitment to support young entrants to farming, and includes proposals on how to use £2m of funding available from 2010 to best effect.

Ms Jones added: "Young entrants to the farming industry represent the future. Removing the barriers that young entrants face and supporting them as they set up their business has been a priority for me since I became Minister, and I am pleased to be publishing this consultation.

"I want it to be a topic of discussion and I want people to be looking towards the future of the industry. There are a number of ways we can provide support for young entrants including providing advice on marketing and business plans; one-to-one mentoring; encouraging joint ventures with established farmers to assist with succession and assisting with the issue of access to land and housing.

"Of course, there are challenges facing the industry, which is why it is vital that young entrants have the support they need to face up to these. They have a crucial role in the future of our food and farming industry and in maintaining the fabric of our rural communities."

Last year’s winner of the FUW award, 36-year-old Robert Vaughan, was recognised for his enthusiastic devotion to diversification on his family’s three farms high in the north Pembrokeshire hills.

Presenting him with the trophy in the main ring at last August’s Pembrokeshire County Show, Mr Williams said the award was originally launched to recognise younger farmers bucking the trend and continuing to work in the county’s agricultural industry.

"Robert is a fine example of someone dedicated to working in agriculture within the county and he is a very worthy winner."

Robert runs a herd of 200 Longhorn cattle and a flock of 1,000 pedigree Lleyn and Welsh Mountain ewes on the family’s Carn Edward group of traditional Welsh hill farms in the Gwaun Valley in north Pembrokeshire.

The farms - Penlan Uchaf, Llanerch and Penrhiw - encircle the Carn Edward stones on Carningli Common and his decision to start selling beef in boxes over three years ago has led to his recognition by the FUW.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE SUPPORTS FUW POSITION ON TB COMPENSATION

The current bovine Tuberculosis (TB) valuation and compensation systems are an integral part of Welsh TB controls and should be retained but irresponsible behaviour should be penalised, says the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

In its response to the Welsh Assembly Government’s consultation on bovine TB compensation arrangements, the FUW argues it is wrong to penalise herd owners for cattle contact with infected wildlife, when successive governments have introduced legislation that has led directly to a massive increase in the numbers of TB susceptible wildlife.

Today FUW vice president Brian Walters said: "Given that scientific studies have attributed high-risk spread to protected wildlife, it would be completely unfair to punish farmers for a problem that has been created by past governments.

"The FUW agrees that compensation should provide an incentive for good practices, but only where such practices have been shown statistically to be effective in reducing incidences of bTB, are practical and affordable, and relate to factors which are within the direct influence and control of the herd owner."

The response also highlights the ambiguous findings of past studies of biosecurity measures. "All farmers should remain vigilant and, wherever practical, take steps to minimise the risk of disease transmission.

"However, scientists have concluded there is no universal solution for farm management to reduce the risk of a herd becoming a TB breakdown, as risk factors can change from year to year and be different from region to region.

"Measures that link compensation to biosecurity measures must therefore be statistically relevant and within a farmer’s control."

The response also brands proposals to publish details of compensation paid to individuals as "fundamentally wrong".

Mr Walters said: "In terms of the financial and emotional impact of bTB for Welsh herd owners, studies by the University of Exeter have shown that the value of cattle slaughtered is around 66 per cent of the total cost of a breakdown, and that the disease effects economic performance and growth of farm businesses, while causing serious stress for farm families.

"Herd owners who receive compensation due to bTB do so as a result of circumstances that are beyond their control. They do not volunteer or apply to receive such payments, and have no control over the size of an outbreak.

"Due to the complexity of issues that relate to bTB breakdowns, such as disease vectors, the nature of farm business structures and the industry as a whole, and the consequential losses incurred by businesses, most members of the general public will never be in a position to view payments made to individuals in the context of the net losses suffered, and the extreme emotional stress that TB places on families.

"Above all else, since the publication of details of individual payments will have no impact on incidences of bTB, the FUW fails to see why this proposal should form part of a programme of activities aimed at eradicating bTB in Wales.

"The implication that the publication of compensation details could contribute to bTB control is no more valid that the assertion that publicising the wages of public servants would encourage them to take a more proactive approach to controlling endemic diseases."

PROCESSORS AND SUPERMARKETS URGED TO STAND BY THE DAIRY INDUSTRY

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today renewed its call for processors and supermarkets to stand by the dairy industry following a further spate of farmgate milk price cuts.

The union’s milk and dairy produce committee chairman Eifion Huws expressed his bitter disappointment, stating that for some farmers the big reductions in price could be the last straw.

"During the last month we have seen processor after processor announcing price cuts and today’s announcement by the Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFB) co-operative that they are cutting 2.2ppl off their milk price from April 1 will shatter confidence for many producers.

"Farmers are at the end of their tether and it is therefore vitally important that processors and supermarkets stand by the industry at this difficult time."

A new DairyCo report disclosed worrying statistics with 14% of dairy farmers stating they intend to leave the industry within the next two years and only 18% stating they have the confidence to expand their businesses.

"The gap between farmgate prices and the price consumers pay at the supermarket is ever growing and this is undermining farmers’ confidence in the industry," added Mr Huws.

"UK milk production is at its lowest level for 34 years and therefore processors and supermarkets alike must pay a fair price to farmers in order to avoid a further fall in milk production.

"I believe that in the absence of an ombudsman it is imperative that the government meets with supermarkets and large retailers to ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their produce in order to bring stability back to the industry.

"As the DairyCo report indicates there is a need for all parts of the dairy supply chain to recognise the vulnerability of the supply base and work together to build farmer confidence."

EUROPEAN REPORT HIGHLIGHTS MASSIVE COST OF EID FOR MEMBER STATES

The cost of implementing sheep and goat EID in just four of the EU’s 27 Member States could total an astonishing £109 million, the Farmers’ Union of Wales revealed today.

The startling figure was disclosed in a report by the Joint Research Centre, the body that advises the EU on technical issues, which compares costings for numerous EID implementation options in the UK, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Spain.

"Even the estimate of the cost of full EID implementation for the UK alone is more than £65 million," said FUW’s hill farming committee chairman Derek Morgan, who represents the union on the Welsh Assembly’s sheep EID group.

"This is a cost that will not be borne by our competitors from outside the EU and, once again, highlights the completely disproportionate expense of implementing a technology that can have major technical problems associated with it.

"I dread to think what the full costs to the EU sheep industry will be."

Even the cheapest option, which involves market reporting rather than on-farm reporting, would represent a cost of £31.024 million for the UK.

The study, requested by the EU’s Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs (DG SANCO), involved an economic analysis of EID for different production forms present in the Community from 2010.

The costs of equipment, tagging, and reading were calculated for different implementation options applied in Cyprus, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

The options studied were: full implementation for all animals born after 2009; implementation with a slaughter lamb derogation; full implementation with all movements being reported by markets and slaughterhouses; and options that included EID for animals born before 2010.

The cost of the various options in the UK, which has the largest flock in the EU, ranged between £31 million and £90 million, while costs for the Spanish industry were between £16 million and £55 million.

"This report simply adds to the already overwhelming evidence that shows that the costs of EID are completely disproportionate, while the benefits are negligible, and could actually be negative in the case of a disease outbreak," said Mr Morgan, who has tested EID on his Llangurig sheep farm.

"We are committed to fighting this ridiculous legislation to the bitter end and this is yet more evidence that totally undermines the basis upon which the Council of Ministers has made its decisions.

"However, the industry must also brace itself and start planning on the assumption that it will come in next year, because the majority of Member States are hell bent on ignoring the evidence."

FUW CALLS FOR NATIONAL DEBATE ON MILK QUOTAS

Farmers’ Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan today called for a national debate on the impact abolishing milk quotas will have on the Welsh dairy sector.

Last November the 27 EU agriculture ministers agreed to lift quotas by one per cent per year before scrapping them altogether in 2014-2015.

Mr Vaughan has written to Assembly rural affairs minister Elin Jones informing her the issue has attracted growing attention on the Continent during recent months, and prompted significant debate at last week's meeting of the EU Council of Ministers.

"There is growing concern amongst many farmers in Wales, and in other parts of the EU, that the full implications of the abandonment of the quota regime have not been properly recognised by the European Commission and others," Mr Vaughan wrote.

"Many believe that such a change would have a destabilising effect on an industry that is already suffering as a result of market volatility, and would have a particularly adverse impact for family farms."

Mr Vaughan told Ms Jones the FUW recognises the restrictions the current regime places on the industry’s ability to react to market demands and believes a more flexible approach to such challenges is needed, rather than the wholesale liberalisation of the current regime.

These concerns were discussed at a meeting last April between the FUW and EU Agriculture Commissioner Fischer Boel and, while the Commissioner was "resolute in her belief that the quota regime should be abolished" by 2015, she also made it clear the matter would be revisited in 2010.

"Given this and the recent volatility of milk prices, there is a real need for the Welsh Assembly Government to engage in further discussions on the impact that abolishing the quota regime will have for the Welsh dairy sector.

"I believe this should happen as soon as possible in order to inform next year's review," Mr Vaughan added.

"It seems perverse that, while the global economy is reeling as a result of under-regulation of the financial sector, and the G20 are proposing far stricter controls, the Commission seems hell-bent on deregulating the milk regime.

"We do not want to find ourselves in a similar situation to the one we now face with regards to sheep EID, with Member States only realising the serious repercussions of what they have agreed to when it is all but too late."

FUW PREPARES CASE FOR EU OMBUDSMAN OVER EID

The Farmers’ Union of Wales revealed today it is preparing a case for the European Ombudsman to investigate the EC’s handling of the introduction of compulsory electronic identification (EID) of sheep.

Chairman of the FUW’s hill farming committee, Llangurig sheep farmer Derek Morgan, told the Assembly’s rural development sub-committee of the union’s intentions to contact the Ombudsman during a meeting at Lampeter University.

"I made it perfectly clear to the sub-committee that the union is leaving no stone unturned regarding this ridiculous regulation, and that we believe there are sufficient grounds for the EU Ombudsman to investigate the fact that we will next year be forced to use a technology that has been shown to have major flaws.

"I have first hand experience of EID, having used it on a small proportion of my Welsh Mountain sheep for the past six years, and found that the technology is not sufficiently developed to be practical for the average Welsh flock. This has also been the experience of the vast majority of farmers and slaughterhouses taking part in the latest trials.

"Even when dealing with a small number of sheep that are electronically identified, we are forced to manually record information on paper due to reliability issues with the technology. It's all very well using it to record and monitor a small specialist flock, but scaling its use up for every sheep in the country is madness."

In a written submission to the sub-committee’s EID inquiry, the FUW emphasised the particular problems the regulation would bring for Welsh farmers, highlighting the fact that 80% of Wales comprises Less Favoured land, and that Welsh farms are therefore dependent upon moving animals from the mountains into the lowlands for wintering.

"The impracticality of recording such movements individually on paper means that Welsh farmers are likely to have to invest more heavily in the technology than those in other countries.

"Wales’ largely Less Favoured status also means that Welsh farms are particularly reliant on livestock markets in terms of selling animals to finishers from the lowlands, and the cost of implementing the regulation in markets is likely to either be passed on to farmers, or result in market closures.

"The FUW maintains that the current system of recording and reporting sheep movements represents a more than adequate method of sheep traceability for the purposes of disease control.

"Moreover, the experiences of industry and government during the 2007 Foot and Mouth disease outbreak clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of existing controls in terms of limiting the spread of a virulent animal disease, and problems encountered by the authorities were not related to the absence of a system of recording individual sheep movements.

"The FUW believes that it is unacceptable that the EU intends to impose the costs and impracticalities of EID on farmers within some Member States, while not requiring Third Countries, against which we compete to comply with similar systems of traceability.

"In conclusion, the FUW believes that there is overwhelming evidence to support the withdrawal of the current regulation regarding sheep EID, and that the Ombudsman must investigate this matter thoroughly."

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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/