NEW FACE ON FUW POWERHOUSE

Meirionnydd farmer Richard Vaughan is a new face on the Farmers' Union of Wales' powerful central finance and organisation committee.

Mr Vaughan, aged 46, takes over as the committee's North Wales special member from S4C TV's Ffermio presenter Alun (Elidyr) Edwards who stepped down due to his broadcasting commitments but remains chairman of the union's agricultural education and training committee.

Mr Vaughan, of Pall Mall, Tywyn, was elected during the union's annual general meeting in Aberystwyth on Monday June 14.

He has already been chairman of the union's central land use and parliamentary committee since 2006.

He was FUW Merioneth's county chairman between 2007-2009 and has recently worked assiduously leading the union's representations on the Welsh Assembly Government's controversial Glastir land management scheme.

He is a member of the Meirionnydd Royal Welsh Agricultural Society's Advisory Committee and represents the county on the Membership Committee in Builth Wells. He also sits on the Council of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society.

He is a former chairman of the Meirionnydd Grassland Society and also vice chairman of Tywyn Town Council as well as other associated committees.

Pall Mall Farm is situated on the A493 north of Tywyn. It is one of two holdings, totalling 550 acres, and is farmed by Mr Vaughan and his wife Dwynwen. Most of their land is at Pant y Panel and Prysglwyd at Rhydymain, near Dolgellau.

A flock of 750 Welsh Mountain Sheep is kept, together with 150 ewe lambs replacements. Around 200 ewes are crossed with Texel and Suffolk rams, and the remainder with Welsh Mountain. Approximately 60 store cattle are kept and fattened over the summer.

Mr Vaughan is well qualified to speak on the Glastir Scheme, since his farm was one of the first to join the Tir Cymen Scheme when Meirionnydd was chosen as a pilot area in the early 1990s. It benefited greatly from the scheme and the farm is now in its sixth year in the Tir Gofal Scheme.

As part of these schemes, capital works have been carried out, including stone walls, fencing, hedging, tree planting, wild life ponds and even an otter den.

Pall Mall Farm has been successfully diversified over the last 40 years. Outbuildings have been converted, two chalets built, and a caravan site established which, by today, has around 100 units.

Mr and Mrs Vaughan have also developed a successful business purchasing and renovating houses in Aberystwyth to be let out as flats and bed-sits. Mr Vaughan sees this as an important part of the business which brings in valuable extra income without taking him away too often from his farming activities.

Meanwhile, all the other six members of the finance and organisation committee - president Gareth Vaughan; deputy president Emyr Jones; vice presidents Glyn Roberts, Eifion Huws and Brian Walters; and South Wales special member Lorraine Howells - were re-elected.

RECOGNITION OF SERVICES AWARDS

A national charity with 150 years service of support for people working within the farming industry and a Powys farmer were presented with awards recognising their contribution to Welsh agriculture during today's Farmers' Union of Wales annual general meeting.

This year The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) - who received the union's annual "External Award" - commemorates 150 years of unbroken support for the farming community and Bryan Jones - who plays an active role in the FUW at county and national level - was presented with the union's "Internal Award".

Since it was founded RABI has helped many thousands of Welsh farmers, farm workers and their families in times of need and last year, in Wales alone, it spent £282,103 on beneficiaries - almost 10 times more than the total fund-raising income of £29,368 from Welsh counties.

Nationally, in 2008 RABI paid grants totalling £1.6m to 1,503 retired and disabled beneficiaries including 184 working families who received a total of £287,758 either to relieve severe hardship or through the Gateway project.

RABI's formation can be traced back to a letter written to The Times in 1859 by Essex farmer John Mechi who appealed to all farmers to link themselves together as volunteer canvassers. He wrote: "Not profit but charity is the mainspring of your efforts and desire to help those who are helpless, comfort those who are comfortless and support the aged, shelter the homeless and befriend and instruct the innocent and unprotected orphans..."

Today RABI continues as custodian of that vision. Every year it provides around 1,000 Christmas hampers to beneficiaries and continues to support elderly couples, widows, widowers and people of any age who are disabled, along with families struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Jones has farmed at Coed y Parc, Caersws, since 1973 when he took over the tenanted dairy holding. He also farmed in partnership with his parents at Cefn Farm, Hyssington, and both farms are now run in partnership with his wife Susan and their son Andrew.

They run a 70-cow pedigree Friesian Holstein herd plus followers and a flock of 300 Texel and North Cheviot X ewes.

Mr Jones first became a delegate on the FUW's milk and dairy produce committee in 1988, serving as chairman, from 1990 to 1994, at a time of major change with the break up of the then Milk Marketing Board.

As a tenant farmer, he was FUW Montgomeryshire branch's delegate on the union's tenants committee. He was elected the committee's chairman in 1994 and led the union's opposition to the introduction of farm business tenancies.

Mr Jones was elected a vice president of the FUW in 1995 and served on the central finance and organisation committee until 1998. He has given evidence, on behalf of the FUW, to the House of Commons' rural affairs committee in relation to problems in the dairy sector and the BSE enquiry.

In 2003 he gave evidence at the European Parliament in Brussels on a debate relating to the dairy sector.

Mr Jones has represented and continues to represent the FUW on a number of government bodies, such as the Milk Quotas Advisory Group, Industry/Government Working Group on Animal Identification and Registration leading to the establishment of the British Cattle Movement Service, the Milk Quotas Experts Group, and the Bovine Industry Working Group.

He was awarded the FUW/HSBC award for outstanding service to the Welsh dairy industry in 2006.

Mr Jones is a past director of Farmore Farmers and AF Farmore and represents Montgomeryshire on the Genus Advisory Committee. He is a member of Powys Local Access Forum and past vice chairman of Montgomeryshire Local Access Forum.

Mr Jones recently took part in the WAG/HCC sheep EID trials.

FUW PRESIDENT GARETH VAUGHAN'S SPEECH TO THE UNION'S AGM

Good morning Minister, ladies, and gentlemen, and honoured guests. A very warm welcome to you all, and thank you for having taken the time to attend our Annual general Meeting at this busy time in the farming calendar.

It gives me great satisfaction to be able to stand here and, for the second year running, report on a more positive year for Welsh agriculture, when set against the dismal ? sometimes negative ? incomes received by the industry over a period which lasted more than a decade.

As farmers, we are often accused of moaning, so it is a pleasant experience to be able to welcome the direction in which incomes have moved over the past couple of years, particularly when we look at the misfortune of those who have lost so much due to the current recession.

But that upward movement has been from a very low base, and while the industry has continued to see long?overdue improvements in livestock prices, dairy farmers have seen a fall in incomes and an overdue delay in terms of global commodity price increases being passed back down the chain to primary producers.

And despite the overall improvements in market returns, livestock prices still struggle to cover input costs, while farm income figures show that most farm types would be unsustainable were it not for Single Payments.

These figures point to the central importance of the Common Agricultural Policy ? and particularly direct payments ? to our rural economy.

As far as the Welsh payment system is concerned, the anticipated movement from our historical model towards flat rate single payments will mean significant upheaval for many farm businesses, and this is highlighted by the detailed analysis published by the FUW in July, which represents the most comprehensive report on the issue published to date.

We therefore have a duty not only to look at ways to minimise that disruption, but also to inform the debate on possible future models, and in this context I believe the Assembly Government's decision to disband the Common Agricultural Policy Stakeholders Group, which was set up to look at this important issue, was a significant backward step for Wales. Moreover, it is one that stands in stark contrast to the pro?active approach taken in Scotland by the establishment of the Brian Pack inquiry into the future of agricultural support.

At a European level, it is the issue of the CAP budget, and the reform of the overarching CAP framework post 2013, which are currently dominating debates, and I was recently pleased to hear reports of our new Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs referring to a future CAP which helps to unleash the potential of job creation and innovation within the farm sector: aspirations which we would all no doubt support.

However, I am deeply concerned by other comments made by Mrs Spelman during an informal farm council meeting, which appear to criticise the CAP budget, advocate a movement away from direct payments, and imply that consumers should have access to cheaper, presumably imported, food.

Perhaps too much should not be read into these comments, given the relative infancy of the new coalition Government. However, I am concerned that they were very much in the same vein as the previous Government's policy, which was to increase cheap food imports while all but abandoning agricultural support and the CAP framework.

The folly of such a policy is highlighted in two significant pieces of work commissioned by DEFRA and published during the past year, and while I could quote a long list of figures from that research ? many of which would make your hair stand on end ? the bottom line is that it shows the complete devastation that would befall our rural communities and wider environment should we undermine a framework which supports agriculture, not to mention a further erosion of our food security and an increase in food miles.

Conversely, I believe that the CAP should be viewed as a tailor?made toolbox with which we can address the challenges that growing populations, climate change, rising sea levels, and peak oil production represent to European food security. These challenges are imminent, and will significantly affect future generations, so do we really want to dismantle our toolbox and empty its contents into the bin at this critical time? Of course not - that would be madness!

And to those who talk about rewarding farmers for the provision of public goods, I agree entirely, but I would emphasise this: There is nothing that benefits the public more than the provision of food, produced to the highest standards. To abandon this as a core policy would mean exporting and amplifying environmental problems in a way which would cause untold damage for future generations.

Returning to issues closer to home, the Union's objection to the abandonment of Less Favoured Area payments in favour of the Glastir scheme is well known, and members will no doubt raise their concerns with the Minister later on.However, the revelation that ninety per cent of English hill farmers who previously received LFA payments have not signed up to the English equivalent of Glastir comes as a stark warning of the need to get things right. The Union strongly encouraged its members to 'tick the boxes' on the IACS forms to express interest in the scheme, although I am very mindful of the confusion, based on lack of information and constant changes to the scheme, which is likely to impact on actual applications later this year.

The Assembly Government continues to expect farmers to make business decisions based on sketchy information, and we firmly believe that a twelve month deferment of the scheme is still warranted, so that the All?Wales, targeted, and common land elements of the scheme are finalised and launched together to facilitate business planning, and so that tenants and landlords alike have a clear understanding of the implications of signing up to the scheme.

And in terms of the ambitious timetable for the Glastir application process, I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise the indispensable role that Farm Liaison Officers already play in advising farmers, especially during the IACS period, and the importance of maintaining and indeed enhancing this service, in light of Glastir.

Failure to make sufficient trained staff available to deal with Glastir applications could also leave farmers open to financial penalties due to simple administrative errors, and while the hundreds of thousands of pounds in penalties that have been repaid to FUW members stands as testament to the hard work of our staff in dealing with appeals, the combination of Glastir and the current penalty system could lead to a significant escalation in unfair fines for farmers.

As far as access to the Glastir scheme is concerned, the decision to exclude woodland from the All Wales element, despite its being an important feature of previous schemes is baffling. For many farms, dairy in particular, this has one simple implication: they will be excluded from the Glastir scheme.

This seems a perverse approach, particularly given the role of woodland in terms of carbon sequestration, and I would therefore urge you, once again, Minister, to revisit this matter and allow the inclusion of woodland.

I believe the times I have stood here and not spoken at some point about bovine TB are few and far between. Well today we have at least two speakers ? Professors Glossop and Hewinson ? who will speak about TB, so I do not intend to dwell on the issue. However, it would be wrong for me not to express our ongoing respect for Elin Jones, Christianne Glossop, and all of those involved in the eradication programme, for their resolve in tackling this issue. We all share a common goal, which is to see healthy badgers and cattle living alongside each other. Others, it seems, have a different goal, which is to protect badgers, irrespective of their role in disease transmission.

Sadly, the scale of the bovine TB epidemic often serves to obscure other serious animal health issues, not just in cattle but also in sheep, and I hope we will go some way to redressing that imbalance with our other expert speakers, Lynfa Davies, and Hannah Pearce.

But firstly, I would like to welcome our Minister, Miss Elin Jones.

GARETH VAUGHAN RE-ELECTED AS FUW PRESIDENT

Powys farmer Gareth Vaughan was re-elected with a handsome majority for the seventh successive time as president of the Farmers' Union of Wales during the union's grand council meeting in Aberystwyth this afternoon (Monday, June 14).

"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 as the Common Agricultural Policy is reviewed," he said.

"The past year has been yet another busy time for the Union in terms of representing members' interests in discussions with organisations and politicians at all levels.

"Our dairy industry has faced a difficult period over the past twelve months, due to a fall in milk prices and the collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain, but the favourable Euro-Sterling exchange rate has had a significant positive impact on livestock prices and Single Payments.

"However, the current financial climate is still a cause for major concern and all eyes are now on the new UK Coalition Government.

"But in Wales the idea of such co-operation is not new, as devolution has forced parties from across the political spectrum, whether in Government or opposition, to work together to tackle major issues and moves such as the Welsh bTB Eradication Programme stand as testament to the way in which cross-party co-operation can lead to a mature consensus over matters of importance."

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, in partnership with his wife of over 40 years, Audrey, and 12 years ago his daughter Catherine and son-in-law Brian joined the business.

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 MEMBERS RAISE GLASTIR ISSUES WITH NEW CCW LEADER

Welsh farmers today raised their reservations about the difficulties they face in gaining entry to the Welsh Assembly Government's Glastir agri-environment scheme with the new chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales.

Morgan Parry, who was appointed in March, told Farmers' Union of Wales land use committee members he was keen to learn from farmers and wanted to build on the good relations set by his predecessor.

The committee's chairman Richard Vaughan said the meeting was an opportunity to meet Mr Parry and raise some of the concerns members have such as the Glastir scheme's accessibility issues.

"We are keen to maintain a dialogue with Mr Parry because at the end of the day we have to work together. Our objectives and goals are the same.

"We both want a healthy environment but we also want a sustainable and profitable farming industry," added Mr Vaughan.

FARMGATE MILK PRICE INCREASE OVERDUE, SAYS FUW

Increases in farmgate prices which properly reflect rises in wholesale prices for dairy produce are now long overdue, FUW milk committee chairman Eifion Huws claimed today.

Figures published by DairyCo last week revealed the wholesale prices of both butter and bulk cream rose by almost 70% in the 12 months to May 2010 while skimmed milk powder and mild cheddar rose by 30% and 12% respectively during the same period.

"In just the last month, the price of butter has increased by £400 per tonne and both mild cheddar and bulk cream have risen by £150 per tonne," added Mr Huws.

According to DairyCo, UK commodity prices have benefited from a rapid rise in European price levels, despite a slight rise in the value of Sterling against the Euro over the past month and butter prices are now are now £100 higher than the record price of £3,300/tonne seen in 2007.

Bulk has also benefited from rising export and domestic prices due to limited availability and strong Continental demand.

"It is high time that the primary producer started seeing some of this money being passed back in order to engender industry confidence," said Mr Huws. "Welsh Assembly Government figures suggest a fall in dairy farm incomes of 11% over the past year, so we are really looking to the dairy processors to make up for this fall."

URDD EISTEDDFOD LAUNCH FOR £1,000 FUW STUDENT BURSARY

New full-time students are being invited to write a 1,000-word essay on one of three topics about the future of Welsh farming suggested by the Farmers' Union of Wales which launches its annual £1,000 bursary on its stand at the Urdd National Eisteddfod tomorrow (Wednesday June 2).

The topics are:

* What challenges will climate change create for farming and food production in Wales over the next 50 years?

* What should the Welsh farming industry and government do to attract more young people into agriculture?

* How would you give the Welsh farming industry a facelift to attract more support and loyalty from the general public?

Last year the adjudicators decided to award £700 to the bursary winner, 19-year-old Harper Adams University College student Iestyn Russell.

Iestyn, of Cwmann, near Lampeter, Carmarthenshire, received his award from FUW president Gareth Vaughan on the union's stand at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair last December.

Iestyn, an enthusiastic member of Cwmann YFC and last year's Wales YFC best junior stockman, also worked on the family's dairy and sheep farm at Cwmann and on a neighbouring beef and sheep farm before deciding to go to university to study for a degree in rural enterprise and land management. "But my dream of farming is still as real as ever," he said.

Runner-up to Iestyn was 19-year-old David Evans, of Groeswen Farm House, Groeswen, Cardiff, who is studying for an agriculture BSc degree at Aberystwyth University. He received £200.

Third was 22-year-old Manod Williams, of Tregerddan, Bow Street, near Aberystwyth, who is also studying for BSc in agriculture with animal science at Aberystwyth. He received £100.

Full details on how to apply for the bursary are included in a leaflet available from the FUW's head office in Aberystwyth or at any of the union's local branch offices as well as on the FUW stand at the Eisteddfod.

The closing date for applications is October 1, 2010.

FUW PROMOTES WELSH FOOD AND FARMING AT URDD EISTEDDFOD

The Farmers' Union of Wales will be promoting Welsh food and farming during its biggest ever presence at the annual Urdd National Eisteddfod next week (May 31-June 5).

This year's venue - the National Trust's property at Llanerchaeron, near Aberaeron - is a rare example of a self-sufficient 18th-century Welsh farm estate which has survived virtually unaltered.

In a unique link-up with the National Trust, the FUW's new mobile display unit will be located on the Home Farm complex which has an impressive range of traditional, atmospheric outbuildings and is a working organic farm with Welsh Black cattle, Llanwenog sheep and rare Welsh pigs.

The union will also have its traditional stand on the Maes and members are welcome to pop in for a cuppa and a Welsh cake while Ceredigion YFC Federation will be holding various events there throughout the week including, on the opening day, setting a challenge for Wales YFC chairman Tim John to have his legs "waxed" and raise funds for the Kidney Wales Foundation.

A food and farm trail quiz-sheet has been compiled with all the answers available on a gentle stroll from the FUW stand on the Maes to the mobile unit via Llanerchaeron's walled gardens and farmyard.

A hamper of local food and drink will be the main prize for the quiz and a Llanerchaeron meat voucher and piggy banks will be the prizes for the lucky winners of a "guess the weight of three little pigs" competition.

Activities alongside the mobile unit begin on Tuesday with a bee-keeping demonstration by FUW's former Cardiganshire county executive officer Lewis Griffith who will repeat the demonstration on Thursday.

Also on Tuesday popular characters from S4C's Ceredigion-based children's programme Pentre Bach will be available to sign autographs and pose for photographs on the FUW stand between 11am and noon.

On the Wednesday and Thursday there will be intriguing displays at the mobile unit of the work of two Talgarreg rural craft exponents - Grug Jones, who makes unusual and artistic willow sculptures, and retired farmer Lloyd Jones, who has a fascinating collection of rope knots.

Meanwhile, the National Trust will also hold a series of events and talks at the farm complex throughout the week including regular shearing displays of local Llanwenog sheep plus an exhibition of various breeds of poultry.

There will also be an opportunity to visit the unique Geler Jones collection of farm machinery, carts, and rural artefacts housed in a purpose-built shed near the FUW mobile unit.

"The FUW is delighted to work with the National Trust to give visitors to the eisteddfod the chance to discover how a working farm produced enough food to make the estate self-sufficient," said the union's Ceredigion county executive officer Owen Jenkins.

"We sincerely hope that the young and not-so-young visitors will remember what both organisations are attempting to do - educate the public to appreciate that food security is one of today's major worldwide issues."

FUW ISSUES WARNING OVER FARM PAYMENT COMPUTER ERRORS

The Farmers' Union of Wales today warned farmers to double check their Single Application Form (SAF) acknowledgment slips after a series of computer scanning errors had been discovered.

"SAF scanning errors have been discovered by a number of our county executive offices across Wales and had these gone unnoticed our members could have lost significant sums of money," said FUW's Carmarthenshire county executive officer Meinir Bartlett.

"We are particularly concerned at the sheer number of errors that we have noticed on acknowledgement slips sent out by the Assembly Government to our members. Thankfully our staff and members have spotted these by cross-checking them against photocopies of their original SAF forms"

One discrepancy involving a Carmarthenshire FUW member showed a 5.28ha field scanned as 1.00ha, and out of a total of 74 field entries in the county, there were 12 scanning errors.

The breakdown of errors is: crosses declaring the intention to claim Single Payment on four fields not scanned; cross declaring the intention to claim Tir Mynydd on one field not scanned; details of field "statuses" not scanned on five occasions; and declaration of an intention to claim Glastir not scanned on two occasions.

"Had these errors by the Welsh Assembly Government not been picked up, they could have led to significant losses for the businesses concerned," said Mrs Bartlett.

"Every year the FUW deals with members who have lost significant sums of money due to minor errors on extremely complicated forms and some end up losing sums that are equivalent to their entire annual incomes.

"Very few of those people get their money back due to the strict enforcement of EU rules relating to obvious errors and exceptional circumstances.

"We fully appreciate that such errors are a part and parcel of normal life and that no system is infallible. But when it comes to farmers making equivalent errors, they have the book thrown at them and can be fined like criminals, even for placing a single tick in the wrong box.

"For those who have lost thousands of pounds and had the viability of their businesses put on the line due to errors that everyone - including officials - agrees were accidental, this will smack of one rule for them and one rule for us.

"But the bottom line is that this is firm evidence of the need to treat errors as errors, and allow them to be corrected without fining people, no matter whether the errors are made by farmers or the Welsh Assembly Government."

FUW KEEN TO REWARD PEMBROKESHIRE YOUNG FARMERS

The Farmers' Union of Wales' Pembrokeshire branch is keen to highlight the achievements of younger farmers in the county so it has extended the period for nominations for its annual Countryside Award.

To be eligible for the award the nominee must be 40 years of age or under on January 1, 2010; actively involved in agricultural production or land management; and normally resident within Pembrokeshire.

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 now be submitted by Friday 4 June 2010.

Last year the award was won by a young farmer who achieved a 20-year ambition to run his own dairy farm when his local council offered him a holding.

Thirty-three-year-old Julian Nicholas, of Lower Coxhill Farm, Narberth, who has worked in agriculture all his life, was presented with the award plus £100 and a year's free FUW membership during last August's Pembrokeshire County Show.

Inviting nominations for this year's award, FUW Pembrokeshire county chairman Dai Miles said: "If the agricultural industry is to have a future in Pembrokeshire it is vital that we not only encourage new entrants into the industry, but that we also acknowledge the hard work of existing younger farmers and nurture them."

TWO STUDENTS RECEIVE FUW STUDY AWARDS

TWO Aberystwyth University students from Glamorganshire currently studying agriculture - David Evans from Caerphilly and Rachel Barrett of Pontllanfraith - have each received £100 study grants from the Farmers' Union of Wales Walter Rowlands Memorial Fund.

Mr Rowlands was the FUW's first county executive officer in Glamorganshire. He served the union from 1956 to 1985 when he passed away prematurely.

To recognise his contribution to the union, the Walter Rowlands Memorial Fund grants an annual award of £100 to students, living within the old Glamorgan county boundary, who have been accepted for an agricultural course. The award is a contribution towards the cost of books and equipment.

David Evans lives at Groeswen Farm, Groeswen, near Caerphilly, which was established by his grandfather. In 2006, he completed a BTEC 1st Diploma (Distinction) at Pencoed Agricultural College and then continued his studies at Coleg Gelli Aur, achieving a triple distinction in a National Diploma in Agriculture. He also received the Ben Evans Award for Student of the Year in 2009.

As a self-financing student he spent every weekend and holiday gaining practical experience on a neighbour's hill farm near Caerphilly. He passed his Blue Certificate for shearing and bought his own equipment to work alongside other experienced farmers.

His spare time is spent training his two sheep dogs, improving his riding skills or designing equipment that would reduce the time and workload of routine tasks around the farm. He is currently studying for a BSc (Hons) Degree in Agriculture at Aberystwyth.

Rachel Barrett, of Heath Road, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood, does not have a farming background but she loves working with animals and has great interest in environmental issues.

She initially believed that she wanted to be a veterinary surgeon but since starting her course in Aberystwyth it has opened her mind to the many opportunities she can follow including working with Defra or in habitat ecology. She would like to have her own smallholding one day and be as self sufficient as possible.

She is currently studying a Foundation (FdSc) Agriculture course at Aberystwyth University and her hobbies include being a member of the St John Ambulance Brigade with whom she has many qualifications within different areas.

She enjoys learning sign language and has helped raise funds for the St David's Foundation. She is also a member of the University Mountaineering and ballroom dancing clubs.

FUW Glamorganshire county executive officer Adrian Evans said: "The judging panel was unanimous in agreeing that they were both very deserving of the award and decided to make two awards for the first in the fund's long history."

Applications for the 2011 Walter Rowlands Memorial Award should be sent to FUW's Glamorganshire County Office, 58 Eastgate, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, CF71 7AB, by 30 November 2010. For further details call 01446 774838.

FUW URGES FAMILY FARM PRIORITY IN CAP REFORM

THE future of the family farm must be a major priority of a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan told AMs at the National Assembly today.

Presenting the union's evidence to the Assembly rural development sub-committee's inquiry into reform of the CAP, he said: "I would like to thank you for holding this inquiry into one of the most important issues facing the agricultural industry in Wales over the coming years.

"However, I believe that our evidence shows that the future of the CAP is not just of importance to Welsh agriculture but also to our wider communities - to the very backbone of our rural economy and to every Welsh citizen."

In 2005, the Treasury and Defra published "A Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy", setting out the UK Government''s vision for EU agricultural policy to 2020.

The key policy reforms proposed included: alignment of import tariffs for all agricultural sectors with other sectors of the economy; abolition of production subsidies; abolition of price and direct income support measures; and abolition of export subsidies.

Following publication of the policy, the UK Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government and other administrations to analyse the impact of these key reform proposals on agriculture in Wales and the other devolved regions. The results, published in July 2009, revealed significant adverse impacts for Welsh agriculture and rural communities.

"To look at the possible worst case outcome of CAP reform for Wales we need look no further than the policies of the previous UK Government and the impact of these as predicted by FAPRI," said Mr Vaughan.

"Their work concludes that scaling down agricultural support and opening up our markets will have dramatic consequences for Welsh agriculture, rural employment and our rural communities.

"Such a watering down of the CAP would also mean abandoning our food security and deconstructing a framework which would otherwise be instrumental in tackling the key challenges of our age - namely, mitigating climate change without undermining food production.

"The FUW believes that to address these issues we need a robust CAP which is funded at a level that reflects the importance of these challenges and above all has the future of the family farm at its core," Mr Vaughan added.

FUW DISCUSSES FUTURE OF FOOD

The future of food will be the topic for discussion in a question and answer session during the Farmers' Union of Wales' Carmarthenshire county branch's annual general meeting at Cwmcerrig Farm Shop, Gorslas, on Monday June 7 (7.15pm for 7.30).

The panel will consist of Wales's Dairy Development Centre manager John Griffiths, Cwmcerrig Farm Shop director Roland Watkins, Wales YFC rural affairs committee chairman Dylan Jones and FUW senior policy officer Hazel Wright.

FUW Carmarthenshire county executive officer Meinir Bartlett said Cwmcerrig Farm Shop is the ideal venue for the meeting, especially the discussion on the future of food. "I am well aware that the Watkins family is passionate about producing good food.

"Their shop provides an alternative outlet for the pedigree Hereford Beef, Texel lambs, turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks and eggs reared in the traditional way on their family-run farm.

"To get the premium stock desired they had to innovate and that is the reason they built the farm shop. They take a great deal of pride in producing such a wide variety of food within just a few hundred yards of the shop which also stocks many other foods from all parts of Carmarthenshire."

FUW HITS OUT AT SPIRALLING 'RED TAPE' PENALTIES

The financial penalties applied to Welsh farmers for minor mistakes while filling in complicated application forms for single farm payments and other EU schemes have shot up by 175% to over £2m a year, the Farmers' Union of Wales has discovered.

Last year, 1,358 farmers in Wales lost a total of £2,156,237 compared to £783,470 by 1,133 farmers in 2008, £1,035,042 by 1,789 farmers in 2007 and £855,398 by 1,923 farmers in 2006.

"We have significant long standing concerns regarding the proportionality and circumstances in which financial penalties are applied to farmers due to mistakes on paperwork or insignificant breaches of EU regulations relating to the Common Agricultural Policy, and the past twelve months has seen a significant escalation in the level of penalties applied," said FUW president Gareth Vaughan today.

In light of these concerns he recently wrote to the National Assembly for Wales's rural development sub-committee chairman Rhodri Glyn Thomas, urging the committee to look into the issue of penalties applied to farmers.

"Examples include families affected by personal tragedies losing significant sums due to minor errors on paperwork, despite these being the direct result of exceptional circumstances, and farmers losing their entire incomes for periods of more than a year due to inadvertent minor errors being made while filling out complex forms," wrote Mr Vaughan.

The FUW also raised its concerns at a meeting with Welsh Assembly Government officials who made it clear that EU auditors had insisted that the level of penalties should be increased.

"It therefore appears that EU auditors are acting disproportionately by failing to allow the Welsh Assembly Government to act reasonably," said Mr Vaughan.

After receiving Mr Vaughan's letter, Mr Thomas wrote to rural affairs minister Elin Jones seeking an explanation. In her reply, she released the latest figures and confirmed "the total cost of penalties has increased significantly in 2009" due to cross-compliance penalties.

She explained the increase results from changes to the Welsh Assembly Government's system following an EC audit in December 2008 which criticised the level of financial reductions for cross-compliance breaches before and including 2008.

"The penalty system now meets the audit and regulatory requirements that, as a general rule, negligent breaches must be penalised at 3%," she added.

Mr Thomas has now told Mr Vaughan the sub-committee will investigate how the application of the rules in Wales compares with other EU national and regional governments.

"If the research shows that the Welsh Government is applying the rules more strictly than other governments, and that farmers in Wales are receiving bigger and more numerous fines than those in other countries, then the sub-committee will consider whether we need to carry out an inquiry into the matter," Mr Thomas added.

Mr Vaughan said: "We are indebted to Mr Thomas and his committee for having taken up this issue and I now look forward to seeing the results of their further inquiries.

"In the meantime, farmers should be under no illusions regarding the financial consequences of even the most minor mistake.

"Check, double check and triple check everything which relates to Cross Compliance and the Single Payment, and do not assume that commonsense or proportionality applies.

"Even the most minor error, such as a tick in the wrong box or being a day late retagging animals, can result in massive financial penalties."

COUNTY CHAIRMAN WELCOMES POLITICIANS TO HIS FARM

Montgomeryshire voters will get the chance to quiz the constituency's parliamentary candidates at an open political forum organised by the Farmers' Union of Wales' county branch office.

The event will be held at Tynllwyn, Llanfair Caereinion (SY21 0HE), home of the FUW's county chairman, Arwel Rees, at 11am tomorrow (Friday, April 30).

Representing their parties at the event are: Heledd Fychan (Plaid Cymru), Glyn Davies (Conservatives), Lembit Opik (Liberal Democrats), David Rowlands (UKIP). Labour declined the offer to be present at the hustings.

FUW county chairman Arwel Rees said: "Even though the majority of farming issues are now dealt with by the devolved Welsh Assembly Government there are still a number of important rural issues being determined by Westminster.

"In a rural constituency like Montgomeryshire people have strong views on issues such as fuel duty, supermarket power, rural post offices and broadband availability.

"I hope the event will give farmers the opportunity to quiz the parliamentary candidates on their party's agricultural and rural policies."

FUW SAYS TIR MYNYDD EXTENSION RECOGNISES GLASTIR PROBLEMS

Today's decision by the Welsh Assembly's rural affairs minister to extend the Tir Mynydd land management scheme for a further two years while its replacement Glastir scheme is rolled out is recognition of the problems facing Welsh hill farmers, the Farmers' Union of Wales said.

"We welcome Elin Jones's announcement as a small step in the right direction and some consolation to farmers who will be facing considerable cashflow problems during the next few years. However, fundamental concerns remain over the scheme's implementation," said chairman of the FUW's land use committee Richard Vaughan.

The Minister told the Assembly's rural development sub committee all farmers who make a Tir Mynydd claim on their 2010 Single Application Form (SAF) will be able to claim 60% of the payment on their 2011 SAF and 30% on their 2012 SAF.

Any eligible farmer who has not made a Tir Mynydd claim on their 2010 SAF and who has already submitted it to the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is encouraged to contact their Divisional Office as soon as possible, and by no later than 17 May 2010, to modify their SAF application if they wish to benefit from the increased support.

The Minister also paid tribute to the contributions from the FUW and other stakeholders who provided solutions to a range of issues relating to commons and Glastir on the recently established commons working group.

She said: "The group, working closely with my officials over recent weeks, has resolved the remaining difficulties associated with commons entry into Glastir. This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when interested parties work together with a positive attitude and towards a shared goal."

But FUW common land committee chairman Lorraine Howells claimed that the minister's comments relating to common land were extremely misleading.

"We fully acknowledge the work of the minister and WAG staff in taking account of the many issues we have raised with them in relation to common land and Glastir, and progress has certainly been made in terms of many of these.

"However, there remain a number of problems in relation to which solutions still need to be found, and I certainly do not agree with the minister that we have 'resolved the remaining difficulties'," said Miss Howells.

"On the contrary, we maintain that the complexity of some issues relating to common land, coupled with the importance of commons to Wales, justifies delaying implementation of the Glastir scheme and an extension to the Tir Mynydd Scheme by at least twelve months."

FUW ANGLESEY HOLDS OPEN POLITICAL FORUM

Voters on Anglesey will get the chance to quiz the island's parliamentary candidates next week at an open political forum on "The agricultural industry and rural Anglesey" organised by the Farmers' Union of Wales' county branch office.

The event will be held on Thursday 29 April at the Bull Coach House, Llangefni, starting at 7.30pm.

The candidates ? Dylan Rees (Plaid Cymru), Anthony Ridge?Newman (Conservatives), Matt Wood (Liberal Democrats), Albert Owen (Labour), Elaine Gill (UKIP), Peter Rogers (Independent) and the Rev Dave Owen (Welsh Christian Party of Wales) will be allowed five minutes to introduce themselves and a question and answer session will follow.

The branch's annual general meeting will be held on Wednesday 19 May at the Cartio?Môn?Karting venue, Bodedern, Anglesey, at 7.30pm when the guest speaker will be Mike Steel, Director of Animal Health in Wales.

FUW MANIFESTO - FAMILY FARMS MUST BE AT CENTRE OF GOVERNMENT RURAL POLICIES

Politicians who ignore the central role Welsh family farms play in the community will threaten the livelihoods of thousands of people living and working in rural areas, Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan warned today.

Launching the union's 2010 General Election manifesto "Farming for all our Futures", Mr Vaughan said the family farm was a key entity which had previously been overlooked and undervalued by many of our political leaders.

"Whatever the political issue, whether it is climate change, animal health and welfare, the negotiation of global trade agreements, or any of the other agriculturally-related topics that affect the electorate, the family farm has a central role to play, and those politicians who ignore this do so at our peril," he said.

Meanwhile, as UK politicians battle over the 6 May election, discussions regarding the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are the focus of talks at a European level and the outcome of these may be as influential over the long term welfare of UK citizens as the forthcoming election.

"In 2007 and 2008 countries around the globe suffered conflict and social unrest due to food shortages. In some developed countries major retailers even rationed certain foodstuffs and, in July 2008, a discussion paper issued by DEFRA concluded that 'the current global food security situation is a cause for deep concern', listing high energy prices, poor harvests, rising demand, biofuels and food export bans in some countries as main factors.

"With the world population expected to rise to between nine and 10 billion by 2050, and predicted reductions in global agricultural productivity per hectare, there is clearly a need for appropriate action that balances food production against environmental considerations, and mitigating climate change without compromising food security is one of the most significant long term challenges facing mankind.

"There can be little doubt that joined up policies between Governments are needed to address these issues and the CAP, by design, provides just such a framework, allowing Europe to react to the imminent challenges that growing populations, global warming, rising sea levels, and peak oil represent in terms of food security."

Mr Vaughan accepted devolution had reduced the number of Welsh agricultural issues over which MPs have a direct influence, but said there remain a significant number of overarching policies of significant concern for Welsh rural communities, and the FUW's concerns and aspirations regarding the most significant of these are highlighted in the union's manifesto.

"Many of these topics will be the subject of detailed consideration during the next Parliament, and the decisions taken by Westminster that follow will have vital implications for both the agricultural industry and all UK citizens over the coming years.

"The FUW is not affiliated to any political party and therefore has a duty to work with both the Government of the day and the opposition parties, irrespective of their political persuasions.

"For the period of the next Parliament and beyond the FUW is therefore committed to lobbying all those in Westminster to ensure that agriculture and family farms receive the attention and respect that they warrant - for the sake of all our futures."

FUW SAYS TB CULL DECISION NOT A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION

The Welsh Assembly Government's High Court judicial review victory over its decision to carry out a limited badger cull in west Wales is not a cause for celebration, according to the Farmers' Union of Wales.

Welcoming the verdict, the union's TB spokesman, vice president Brian Walters, said: "This issue is not just about killing badgers - it's about preventing them and our cattle suffering from this terrible and costly disease.

"It is not a time for celebration - it's time for us to do all we can to stop all further suffering of cattle and wildlife affected by TB.

"Obviously, we are glad that the judge has ratified the considered views of the veterinary establishment and those scientific experts who have advised the Assembly's rural affairs minister.

"Now that the legal system has backed the Assembly's holistic approach to this issue we hope the preparations for the cull in the pilot area, together with more widespread cattle testing and further improvements to on-farm bio-security measures, will be allowed to proceed unhindered.

FUW APPOINTS NEW LIFE MEMBER

FORMER Farmers' Union of Wales deputy president Tom H Jones FRAgS has been elected a life member of the union in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the union and Welsh agriculture over many years.

Mr Jones fills the vacancy created by the death of influential past president Hugh Robert Môn Hughes OBE. Mr Jones of Maes Mawr, Llanfechell, Amlwch, was the union's deputy president in 1989-90 and vice president between 1984 and1989.

Mr Jones, a well-known dairy farmer, was awarded the FUW's internal award for services to Welsh agriculture in 2007.

He was educated at the University College of North Wales Bangor from 1968 to 1972, graduating with an honours degree in agriculture and agricultural economics.

From 1972 to 1975 he was a Milk Marketing Board (MMB) farm management consultant, working in East Anglia and Dyfed.

He was elected the MMB's regional member for North Wales in 1990. Three years later he was appointed a non-executive director of Dairy Crest plc, and was a member of the Audit Committee and chaired the Appointments Committee.

A past chairman of the Welsh Federation of Grassland Society, Mr Jones is also a former member of the Welsh Office Agriculture Advisory Panel and remains a member of the Welsh Assembly Government's Dairy Industry Working Group.

In February 2004, he was appointed a member of the Milk Development Council and in June the same year he was elected as a member of Anglesey County Council where he still represents the Llanfechell ward and holds the finance portfolio on the cabinet.

Announcing Mr Jones' selection at a meeting of the union's grand council, FUW life member Glyn Powell said: "Several names were put forward and after discussions on the amount of service they had given to the union we decided to recommend the election of Tom Jones." The recommendation was accepted unanimously by the union's grand council.

Responding to the appointment, Mr Jones said: "I am very grateful for this acknowledgment from my own kind of people and I consider it a great honour and privilege to be joining such an elite group."

FUW BACKS £3.3 MILLION BOOST FOR DAIRY INDUSTRY

THE Farmers' Union of Wales today broadly welcomed the Welsh Assembly Government's decision to invest £3.3 million in the Welsh dairy industry over the next three years.

The project, funded by the Supply Chain Efficiencies (SCE) scheme operates through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

The SCE scheme provides financial support for co-operation projects that will develop new products, processes and technologies in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors.

The aim of the project is to help improve levels of efficiency, sustainability and added value in the dairy supply chain.

FUW milk committee chairman Eifion Huws said: "We are glad that the government has heeded our warning and are planning to invest in what is truly a struggling industry.

"I am sure that many farmers will find advice, support and information on issues such as energy efficiency, maximising production efficiency and profits, beneficial, but advice alone will not help tackle the problems that dairy farmers face on a daily basis.

"Without a fair price for their milk, a number of farmers will find that they don't have the means to act on the advice given to them.

"The crux of the matter is that many farmers are still being paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it.

"Of course this investment is a step in the right direction but without greater transparency throughout the supply chain farmers will continue to be short changed.

"Farmers in Wales are already bearing the brunt of lower milk prices compared to the UK as a whole and steps need to be taken to ensure that Welsh farmers are given a level playing field.

"All the sustainability and efficiency measures in the world cannot make a dairy farm profitable without a prolonged period of price stability.

"Only then will farmers have the confidence to invest in the future."

FUW ISSUES STARK WARNING OVER IACS/SAF PENALTIES

The Farmers' Union of Wales today warned farmers to take extra care when filling in their single payment forms - or risk losing all of their Single Payments.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: "Over recent years the FUW has dealt with significant numbers of cases where inadvertent errors have led to members losing a large proportion of their Single Payments.

"In some cases, tiny errors such as a box ticked incorrectly have led to the loss of entire Single Payments, equating to losses of tens of thousands of pounds for farm businesses."

The FUW has lobbied the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Parliament on the issue over a long period, urging them to adopt a proportionate approach to mistakes that are obvious errors or are the result of exceptional circumstances.

"However, WAG insists that the rules relating to obvious errors are extremely narrow and that EU auditors give them little or no leeway to be fair. This is even the case where all parties acknowledge that an inaccuracy was an inadvertent error," Mr Vaughan said.

He also urged farmers to carefully check the IACS/SAF acknowledgement letters that are issued by WAG as soon as they are received, and to notify any errors to WAG immediately.

"If WAG detects an error, the first a farmer may know about it is when they fail to receive their Single Payment in December. They will then have to go through the appeals process, which can take years and cost thousands of pounds, with no guarantee of a positive outcome at the end."

Mr Vaughan added: "Farmers should also notify WAG of any exceptional circumstances or Force Majeure that may affect their businesses as soon they are in a position to do so.

"We believe that many of the penalties applied under the current regime are completely immoral and disproportionate, and some of the cases the FUW has dealt with are truly heartbreaking. We are therefore committed to fighting for a more proportionate and fair penalty system.

"However, under the current regime the best way to minimise the risk of penalties is by checking and double-checking every single detail on the IACS, and by exercising extreme caution with regard to every aspect of the farm management and paperwork."

FUW VAT ON-LINE CAMPAIGN GATHERS SUPPORT

Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan today hailed the growing support the union has received for its campaign against HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) "absurd" decision to force farmers in areas with no or poor broadband provision to fill out their monthly or quarterly VAT returns on-line from 1 April this year.

Mr Vaughan, who lives in a broadband blackspot in Powys, welcomed Clwyd West MP David Jones' decision to protest to HMRC's director general Dave Hartnett stressing there are many areas of North Wales, including Gwytherin and Cwmpenanner in his constituency, which have no satisfactory broadband access.

Mr Vaughan also welcomed support from website ISPreview.co.uk - an independent source of Internet Service Provider (ISP) information, listings and reviews since 1999 - which stated HMRC's move "appears absurd" at a time when the Government's own Universal Service Commitment (USC), which aims to deliver a minimum broadband ISP speed of at least 2Mbps to virtually every household in the UK by 2012, has not even begun to be implemented.

In his letter to Mr Hartnett, Mr Jones described HMRC's position as wholly unreasonable and asked for an exemption for farmers in such circumstances. He has also written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, pointing out the unreasonableness of HMRC's position.

Mr Vaughan said: "We do not have broadband access at my farm in Dolfor, near Newtown - we were told our line is too antiquated for broadband.

"It's obvious that the HMRC don't fully appreciate the problems facing farmers and other businesses in rural communities like Powys. The age structure of the industry is such that lots of us grew up before the widespread use of computers and we're going to struggle."

The FUW's development director Emyr James had earlier contacted HMRC to find out what alternatives could they suggest if farmers were not able to go on-line. They replied that farmers could ask family or friends, who have a computer, to offer them Internet access or employ the services of an agent who could file the return on their behalf.

"This is a typically heavy-handed government approach, showing very little appreciation of the true situation for many small-to-medium-sized enterprises," said Mr James.

As a temporary solution the FUW will provide a service at its county offices where staff will file members' VAT returns on-line on their behalf. The paper-based summary should be completed in the normal way and taken to the county office.

FUW SLAMS 'HEAVY-HANDED' HMRC

The Farmers' Union of Wales today accused the UK Government's Revenue and Customs department (HMRC) of adopting a "heavy-handed" attitude by forcing farmers in areas with no or poor broadband provision to fill in their VAT returns on-line.

The union's business development director Emyr James reminded farmers of a legal obligation to comply with new regulations relating to filing VAT returns on-line, effective from 1 April this year, but HMRC has no alternative option for those who don't use a computer or don't have access to broadband.

Mr James was commenting on HMRC's reply to FUW representations on behalf of its members who, because of their location, are unable to receive broadband and have no plans to go on-line. "They have confirmed the legislation does not provide exemption and there will be no 'alternative' method to filing on-line.

"To fulfil their obligation, HMRC suggest that they could ask family or friends, who have a computer, to offer them Internet access or, alternatively, employ the services of an agent who could file the return on their behalf," he said.

"This is a typically heavy-handed government approach, showing very little appreciation of the true situation for many small-to-medium-sized enterprises.

"There is still a generation of people in society who did not grow up in an Internet environment and some consideration should have been shown towards this group of people.

"There are many farmers for whom the Internet remains an unfamiliar skill, whilst there are some who distrust modern communications technology. Also, many parts of rural Wales have no reliable broadband provision at all."

To overcome the problem, the FUW will provide a service at its county offices where staff will file members' VAT returns on-line on their behalf. The paper-based summary will be completed in the normal way and taken to the county office.

"This will complement a similar service already provided by county offices, whereby stock movements are registered with BCMS electronically," said Mr James.

FARMERS FAILED BY CHANCELLOR'S ELECTION-FUELED BUDGET

THE Chancellor has once again left Welsh farmers bitterly disappointed after failing to take on board the Farmers Union of Wales' demand for a freeze on fuel duty and the establishment of a fuel duty regulator, said the union's president today.

Instead Mr Darling announced that fuel duty will rise by 1p in April followed by further 1p rises in October and January. "This staggered approach will do nothing to alleviate rural dwellers' high transports costs and it will also ensure that we will see a rise in fuel costs for the foreseeable future," said Gareth Vaughan.

"The rising costs of transportation are having a profound effect on the sustainability of the agricultural industry. The current economic climate, coupled with high oil prices and a lack of investment in alternative fuel opportunities, has resulted in a significant increase in overheads for primary producers who cannot pass these costs up the marketing chain.

"The Chancellor's failure to freeze all fuel duty rises will leave us on an unfair playing field compared to our competitors and there is no doubt every commodity that has to be transported to rural areas will now cost farmers much more in the future.

"The effect of Mr Darling's decisions mean that farming suffers badly because for every 2p per litre rise in fuel duty the annual operating costs of just one 44-tonne articulated lorry increases by up to £900 - inevitably leading to increased prices for animal feedstuffs, fertiliser, and all other products farmers have to purchase," added Mr Vaughan.

On a more positive note, the union welcomed the decision to introduce a duty of 50p a month on all phone landlines to finance the availability of super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of the population by the end of 2017.

"The FUW has long campaigned that the lack of effective broadband in many parts of Wales is putting rural businesses at a severe disadvantage. I hope that this move will eradicate any black-spots that currently exist in Wales.

"Access to a fast internet connection is also becoming an increasingly useful tool for farmers with registering cattle movements online a regular task. It is vital that we have effective access to broadband technology to carry out these tasks quickly and efficiently," said Mr Vaughan.

The union also praised the Chancellor's decision to double the stamp duty limit for first time buyers from £125,000 to £250,000.

Mr Vaughan added: "We welcome this support for first time buyers as we hope it will allow young people who wish to stay in our rural communities to purchase houses within their locality.

"Retaining young people in rural communities is imperative for the sustainability of rural Wales."

FUW BRANDS QUEEN GUITARIST VISIT AS ‘CYNICAL PUBLICITY STUNT’

The Farmers' Union of Wales today branded Queen guitarist Brian May's decision to attend the judicial review in Swansea of the proposed badger cull in north Pembrokeshire as a "cynical publicity stunt".

FUW vice president Brian Walters, who has seen the rural community in which he has lived all his life ravaged by bTB over the past decade, said: "It is completely galling for those who have to live with the misery and financial losses caused by TB to see a millionaire rock star dropping in to talk about the proposed cull when he has no idea of the desperate need to control this disease.

"When was the last time Brian May had to go cap in hand to a landlord or the bank manager to explain that a TB outbreak meant he couldn't keep up with payments?

"People are having their livelihoods destroyed. The epidemic is ripping families and communities apart, driving people to the very edge and costing the lives of tens of thousands of cattle each year in Wales alone.

"Farmers do not have the luxury of sitting back and collecting recording royalties while pontificating about issues that do not affect them. We have seen tens of thousands of cattle taken away due to TB, yet we have not heard a single word from Brian May regarding this slaughter.

"Yet when the Welsh Government proposes a small-scale badger cull in an area where one in seven badgers is infected with the disease, Brian May announces on his website he is 'losing most of a precious day in the studio' to travel to Swansea to take part in a cynical publicity stunt.

"It shows a completely subjective approach to animal welfare and smacks of a condescending attitude to Welsh government. A vet wouldn't dream of telling him how to play his guitar, so why should he feel he has the right to tell vets how to control a dangerous disease.

"He may be losing a 'precious' day in the studio but does he know how many farmers are losing precious days of work to witness their animals being herded into trailers to be taken to slaughterhouses because of TB?

"Nobody agrees to the needless destruction of wildlife but TB is costing the lives of thousands of cattle as well and of badgers already suffering excruciatingly painful deaths due to the disease."

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/