LIB-DEM LEADER URGES GOVERNMENT TO BACK WELSH FARMERS

WELSH Liberal Democrats leader Kirsty Williams called for increased government support for Welsh farmers when she addressed the Farmers' Union of Wales' Carmarthenshire county executive committee recently.

"In order to ensure a healthy economy, population and environment we must better promote and support our Welsh farming industry," the Brecon and Radnorshire AM told union members.

"With six out of every seven British hill farmers having no identified successor we must turn farming into a profitable and thriving industry, and make sure that this way of life does not die out with this generation.

"To secure the future of rural Wales we must ensure that our farmers and consumers get an honest and fair deal," said Ms Williams. "The promotion of food quality, more local procurement, furthering biodiversity and fair prices are the best kind of medicine for a healthier Wales.

"In difficult times such as this economic recovery starts at home, so consumers should be proud to 'Buy Welsh' and 'Buy Local'. Welsh farmers have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and supermarkets should pay fair prices for the high quality product they produce.

"Farmers don't want to be given subsidies, what they want is to receive a fair payment for their hard work. Supermarket greed is forcing farmers out of business.

"Whilst world food demand is set to double over the next 40 years we stand by helpless as we lose the capacity to produce it.

"Alongside international fair trade products we need to see Fair Trade for our Welsh farmers," Ms Williams said. "We need a legally binding supermarket code, enforced by an independent Food Market Regulator to enforce fair trade for farmers and to help this industry prosper as it should.

"This is especially crucial for the dairy sector that is under so much pressure at the present time. We need the Government to take action now to secure production in the Welsh milk field."

Ms Williams added that, like the FUW, she had grave concerns over the proposed implementation timescale of the new Welsh Assembly Government's Glastir scheme. "To date the details and consequences of this new scheme have not be fully worked out or tested.

"The Agriculture Minister must be prepared to listen to the concerns of the industry and delay implementation until there is clarity around the scheme that allows for individual farm business to plan for their future.

"In recent months we have seen much comment about the damaging effects of the methane from livestock on climate change. However, new pioneering work demonstrates that proper grassland management can be crucial in capturing carbon and thus Welsh farmers are well placed to play a key role in the Government's plans to address climate change."

FUW SAYS TORIES SUPERMARKET OMBUDSMAN PLAN IS LONG OVERDUE

The Farmers' Union of Wales today welcomed the Tories plan - revealed at the Oxford Farming Conference - to appoint a supermarket ombudsman but described the move as long overdue.

"As far back as the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak even Prime Minister Tony Blair was saying supermarkets had farmers in an 'arm-lock' and wielded too much power," said FUW president Gareth Vaughan.

"At the time the FUW welcomed his comments, too, but made the point that despite his rhetoric he had failed to take practical action to assist farmers and other suppliers."

Since then the FUW has repeatedly called for a supermarket ombudsman and, in April 2008, described the Competition Commission's bid to create an independent Ombudsman to enforce a strengthened Groceries Supply Code of Practice as a major step forward in efforts to curb the dominance of the large supermarket chains.

"But, regrettably, there is still no such ombudsman in place even though we had been pressing for a fresh investigation into the practices employed by the large supermarket companies long before the Office of Fair Trading asked the Competition Commission to investigate the issue in 2006," added Mr Vaughan.

"The Commission fully endorsed our campaign which followed bitter complaints from farmers and other suppliers over many years that their prices were being forced down to satisfy the demands of these companies to make even bigger profits for their shareholders.

"We were heartened when Wales' Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones expressed her support in December 2007 for an Ombudsman to regulate supermarkets and called for the existing voluntary Code of Conduct to be updated and strengthened.

"The FUW still maintains an independent Ombudsman, coupled with compliance officers employed by supermarkets to oversee the implementation of the new code, will be a major step forward in ensuring supermarkets provide a fair deal for all suppliers, including farmers."

During the Oxford Farming Conference shadow environment spokesman Nick Herbert said the voluntary code of practice governing the relationship between supermarkets and food suppliers is not "worth the paper it is written on" unless properly enforced.

"It is not enough to talk loosely about a fair market or the need for better labelling. We need action, with a supermarket ombudsman and legislation to enforce honest labelling if the retailers won't act."

WELSH HILL FARMERS GROW BLACKCURRANT CUTTINGS FOR RIBENA DRINK

The versatility of Welsh hill farmers is splendidly portrayed on a Powys farm where thousands of soft fruit plants are grown for the commercial and amateur markets in addition to traditional sheep and cattle rearing.

About 30 acres of FUW members Nigel and Sian Fromant's 140-acre farm - over 1,000ft up in the Radnorshire hills at Bryngwyn, near Painscastle - are used for the propagation of soft fruit plants under the name of Welsh Fruit Stocks.

"The farm is totally isolated from other fruit growing areas and the very healthy conditions allow us to grow many of our stocks, especially strawberries, organically," said Nigel.

"Blackcurrant stock bushes are conventionally grown and we can supply up to half a million cuttings annually to many of the Ribena growers across the UK.

"In the past this has been a traditional livestock rearing farm and so is in excellent heart. We still have sheep and cattle and this allows us to naturally maintain fertility, to use long rotations and to utilise our permanent pastures and hill grazing."

There is a closed flock of 200 mainly Radnor-cross Welsh ewes, crossing with Texel tups, to produce organic fat lambs sold through nearby organic livestock marketing group Graig Farm Producers and ewe lamb replacements are also bred.

Eight Welsh Black cows are crossed with a Hereford bull, the calves of which are kept on, selling beef direct to neighbours, friends and family.

"The livestock utilises the steeper, poorer fields and provide farmyard manure for the organic system and help create the rotations needed for the fruit propagation," said Sian.

"The organic fruit plants are sold to gardeners by mail order across the UK, selling mainly from our web site. Smaller pick your own businesses, organic growers, nurseries and a few larger scale raspberry growers are also supplied.

"High altitude and isolation helps to maintain the high health status of the plants, which are grown under the Plant Health Propagation Scheme. Minimal pesticides are used on the conventional stocks and natural products are used to maintain the health of the organic plants.

"Weed control is predominantly by hand and a committed, mainly local workforce of up to 10 is employed throughout the summer and for lifting the plants during the winter months. Some neighbouring farmers who work for us regard it as a form of diversification."

During a visit to the farm, FUW president Gareth Vaughan said it had been a great pleasure to hear about such a truly unique business, not only in terms of the farm itself, but also because of the geography of the land on which the enterprise is carried out.

"This type of diversification is a lesson to us all. While growing fruit, alongside running beef and sheep enterprises, is certainly unusual, perhaps it is an indication of the type of branching out we should all be looking at to some extent.

"Wales's unique landscape means livestock and forage farming will be always be central to Welsh agriculture. In fact, in a world of growing concern over climate change and rising populations, it would be irresponsible not to raise livestock on places that cannot be used in other ways to produce food, whatever ridiculous remarks are made by think tanks and policy advisers about eating less meat.

"However, we should certainly not rule out other types of farming where viable and, given the increasing and much needed focus on local food procurement, we are likely to see this type of diversification being carried out far more in future.

"We are, therefore, indebted to the Fromant family for showing us what is possible if we use our imaginations and 'think outside the box' so to speak. We are also very proud to have the Fromants as FUW members."

The business was started originally by Sian's late father Stephen Joyce in the 1960s when he grew blackcurrant cuttings for Herefordshire growers. He expanded into producing strawberry plants when he purchased Grug Farm in the late 1970s and then successfully began propagating raspberry canes.

"His adage would have been: it's not how much land you have, it's what you do with it that's important," said Sian.

She and Nigel, who met while studying at the Welsh Agricultural College in Aberystwyth, took over the business in 1991 and slowly expanded the sales to gardeners, concentrating in supplying high quality plants at reasonable prices. Last year, the farm grew some 15,000 blackcurrant, white currant, redcurrant, gooseberry and jostaberry (a gooseberry/blackcurrant hybrid) bushes, 40,000 raspberry canes and 130,000 strawberry plants.

They began organic conversion in 2000, set up a website to advertise their plants and added a shop to the site in 2003. Their 23-year-old daughter Jess, who has studied computer science and psychology at Swansea University, now deals with customer care and runs the website which has seen web sales steadily increase to well over 75% of total gardener sales.

Sian said: "The business has been growing nursery fruit bushes for 45 years now and when we found that the other types of fruit grew so well up here at Bryngwyn, we increased the range to include all the major types. We buy in the parent stocks at the highest health status available, to ensure that our plants are the healthiest possible.

"Our customers tell us that the plants respond rapidly to softer environments and establish quickly. They have also been impressed by the vigour of the plants and the quality of their root systems.

"We believe that by reducing any stresses on the plants - and animals - a lot of the common problems can be reduced. Being on the edge of several different habitats - heather moorland, ancient woodland, traditional grassland and small areas of wetland - the biodiversity is unique.

"It is good to be able to encourage the wildlife on the farm. We have recorded over 60 species of birds seen here, from redstarts to red kites.

"We take great care of our plants throughout the seasons. We multiply our own parent stock wherever possible to give us control from the earliest stage.

"The raspberries, strawberries and parent bushes are entered into the Plant Health Propagation Scheme and are health inspected at intervals throughout the growing season.

"Being members of several fruit breeding programmes we have access to many of the new improved varieties, but we also continue to grow some of the old favourites that rightly maintain their popularity. We hold one of the largest ranges of blackcurrant varieties including many of the new, more disease resistant 'Ben' varieties.

"We are fortunate to have a mainly local, skilled staff, including other family members, who work with the plants all year round. It is their dedication, in all weathers, together with careful day-to-day management that ensures the high quality of our plants.

"Throughout the growing season we rely on hand hoeing, weeding and cultivation to keep the crops clean and to reduce the stress on the plants. Through the autumn, winter and spring, the plants are lifted, hand selected and carefully packed ready for dispatch.

"We use a 24-hour delivery service or Royal Mail first class post to ensure the plants reach our customers in prime condition."

FUW PRESIDENT LAUNCHES DAMNING ATTACK ON EU AUDITORS

Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan today hit out at European Union auditors, claiming that their actions are “inhuman and immoral" and undermine faith in Europe.

Mr Vaughan said: “Each year the FUW deals with scores of cases where penalties have been applied to members’ businesses by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG).

"These are often a result of individuals making innocent and inconsequential errors, sometimes as a result of exceptional circumstances, such as severe illness or family tragedy. These penalties result in financial losses that compound what are often tragic family circumstances.”

Mr Vaughan added that he had no objection to penalising businesses for genuine reasons where individuals had acted irresponsibly or fraudulently, but blamed EU auditors for WAG’s harsh interpretation of EU rules.

“WAG officials live in a climate of fear, generated by the threat that EU auditors will find fault with a decision, irrespective of any moral justification, resulting in Wales having to pay millions in fines to Europe, known as ‘disallowance’,” said Mr Vaughan.

“In many of these cases all parties acknowledge that the circumstances are exceptional, and that the penalty is effectively immoral. Yet officials claim that EU regulations make no allowance for extreme conditions, and that penalties must therefore be applied in order to avoid the auditors imposing massive fines.”

Mr Vaughan also hit out at a recent hike in Cross Compliance penalties imposed following auditors’ recommendations.

“Rather than recognising the very shaky moral ground that they occupy, the auditors have added to injury by insisting that fines must be increased.

“This completely inhuman attitude to genuine errors and situations arising as a result of human tragedies is morally indefensible, and completely undermines any faith in the European Union being a proportionate and fair institution.”

Mr Vaughan has already discussed the union’s concerns with EC officials and has written to rural affairs minister Elin Jones requesting a meeting to discuss the matter.

FUW DEMANDS EU DAIRY EMERGENCY FUND SHOULD NOT BE PRODUCTION LINKED

The Farmers' Union of Wales today urged the Welsh Assembly Government to distribute EU emergency aid monies directly to dairy farmers in Wales following a meeting of the union’s finance and organisation committee.

EU member states recently agreed the UK will receive _29.26m of the proposed _300m aid package for dairy farmers struggling to cope with low milk producer prices.

EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel first announced the aid package back in October following months of protests and lobbying from dairy farmers. The exceptional measure was designed to ease the financial struggles of the worst affected EU farmers.

The finance and organisation committee objected wholeheartedly to payments being proportional to milk production or quota held, on the grounds that, on average, farms with higher production/quota get more money per litre for milk, due to production related bonuses, and also benefit from economies of scale such as cheaper feed.

Members felt that, ideally, they would like to see a system that benefits those with the greatest needs. However, they recognised that this is unlikely to be practical as it would involve individual assessments of every dairy farm.

FUW milk committee chairman Eifion Huws said: “We, therefore, support a system where all dairy farmers receive the same amount, on the grounds that this is practical, easily administered and is more equitable than a system that would, in many cases, see the most profitable businesses receiving more than those in greater need of the money."

FUW DELEGATION SLAMS DEFRA’S POSITION ON CAP REFORM

A Farmers’ Union of Wales delegation to Brussels highlighted the dangers to Wales and the EU of Defra’s approach to CAP reform at a time when all parties should be pushing for a properly funded scheme recognising the key role agriculture must play in maintaining food security and mitigating climate change.

Mr Vaughan said although a favourable euro -sterling exchange rate has significantly helped the industry over the past year, Aberystwyth University’s Farm Business Survey results highlighted the industry’s continuing reliance on CAP payments to remain financially viable.

"So, in the absence of a system that ensures fair returns for our produce, the outcome of the forthcoming discussions on the post -2013 CAP is crucial to our future prospects.

"To get some idea of what the worst possible post -2013 CAP might look like, we need look no further than our own Westminster government policy, as laid out in the Defra -Treasury 2005 CAP policy document.

"Since 2005 the FUW has warned that that policy - which advocates less direct aid, more imports into the EU, and lower food prices - would devastate our industry and the rural areas in which we live."

Research commissioned by Defra and the Welsh Assembly also confirmed what the FUW had been saying for the past four years - that Defra’s policy would lead to a 26% fall in cattle prices, cattle numbers would plummet by between 26 and 29% and sheep prices would fall by around 12%.

Sheep numbers would fall by around 17% and similar trends are predicted for the milk, pig and poultry sectors.

"While it may have been drafted in 2005, this is not Defra’s 2005 policy: This is Defra’s policy now,” said Mr Vaughan.

"Despite their own reports warning that their policy will 'hasten the decline in agricultural employment' and 'employment within the wider rural economy' while undermining 'the viability of the rural population', Defra has made no u -turn and, for all the warm words recently spoken by Hillary Benn in favour of agriculture, its policy is to destroy our rural communities and businesses.

"So in terms of the forthcoming negotiations on the future of the CAP, which will be critical to farming in Wales, this is the policy that Defra will be trying to push, and even as I speak, Defra officials are no doubt holding meetings and discussions about how best to get as many of these catastrophic policies into the post -2013 CAP.

“We believe that people should not be pushing for Defra to be at the European Parliament’s negotiating table because it would be advocating a policy that evidence shows will devastate farming and our rural communities.”

MCCARTNEY FLIES TO BRUSSELS TO BOOST ANTI MEAT BID AS FUW TEAM ARRIVES BY TRAIN

A Farmers' Union of Wales delegation travelled by train to Brussels to discuss agriculture's key role in mitigating climate change as Sir Paul McCartney flew in from London to demand meat?free Mondays, the union's leader claimed today.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, McCartney admitted his flights from London to Brussels to make his case  - and on to Berlin for a concert later in the week - had contributed to global warming.

President Gareth Vaughan told the FUW's grand council he was accompanied by his deputy Emyr Jones and senior policy officers when they met EC officials and Welsh MEPs to express concern over Defra's proposals for the industry after the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is replaced in 2013.

"And while we were in the EU parliament, arguing in favour of a common sense approach to land use and climate change, both in terms of the CAP and the Copenhagen summit, Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, was in the same building, doing exactly the opposite.“The FUW travelled there and back by train! The word hypocrisy springs to mind, and I am confident that the carbon footprint of our farm fades into insignificance alongside the hundreds of transatlantic journeys undertaken by Sir Paul over the years.

"While McCartney’s campaign might incense us here in Wales, the anger must be far worse in Kintyre, Scotland, where he made his home in an area where, like Wales, crop production is in many areas unviable, and livestock farming an integral part of the economy and environment."

FUW BACKS ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE REPORT INTO DAIRY INDUSTRY

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today welcomed the Assembly rural development sub-committee’s call for a “champion” to boost the dairy industry in Wales.

But the union also expressed bitter disappointment that the conclusions of the sub-committee’s inquiry did not deal with the controversial issue of the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.

“We support the wide-ranging recommendations made in this report,” said FUW milk committee chairman Eifion Huws, when it was launched at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

“Their conclusions tie in with policies advocated by the FUW for many years, particularly in terms of the equitable distribution of profits along the supply chain and the appointment of an ombudsman.

“However, we are disappointed that, in the current climate where hundreds of thousands of dairy farmers across Europe are protesting against the abolition of milk quotas, this issue has been blanked.

“In evidence to the committee the FUW highlighted the findings of numerous reports that show the abandonment of the quota regime will reduce farm-gate prices and milk production in Wales.

“This is a critical issue for the Welsh dairy industry, and there is a real need for a proper debate on the matter.

“That debate is raging on the continent but it is being largely ignored in Wales and the UK despite its critical importance to the sector.”

FUW ADOPTS AIR AMBULANCE AS ITS CHOSEN CHARITY

The Farmers' Union of Wales has selected Wales Air Ambulance as its chosen charity for 2010, it was announced at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair (November 30-December 1).

The union's president Gareth Vaughan said the air ambulance service was a most appropriate and fully deserving cause for a national organisation representing rural areas such as the FUW. "It a registered charity, wholly dependent on public donations.

"The annual cost of sustaining their three air bases, which cover the whole of Wales from Caernarfon, Welshpool and Swansea airports, is £5m and only through continued public support are they able to meet these targets. Due to Wales’ widely scattered population and diverse landscape, there is a proven need for their helicopters to be fully operational throughout the year.

"I am well aware the Air Ambulance has been a lifesaver time and time again in all parts of rural Wales and as a representative of the farming industry I and my fellow FUW officials are proud to be associated with such a vital service and we will do all we can to raise as much money as possible throughout 2010."

Wales Air Ambulance chief executive Angela Hughes said: “We are delighted that the Farmers' Union of Wales has chosen Wales Air Ambulance as their nominated charity.
"Our ability to reach rural locations when time really matters has meant that we have had a long standing association with the farming community in Wales, and this is a fantastic opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the charity and the rural communities that we serve.

"Active support from the public plays an important role in ensuring that we meet the huge cost of keeping our helicopters flying, and we are proud to be linked with such a prominent investor in the community.

"This exciting partnership will not only help increase awareness of the work of the ambulance crews, but also ensure that we continue to provide a lifesaving service across Wales, and we are looking forward to working with the union and its members over the coming year.”

Wales Air Ambulance is a registered charity providing emergency air cover 365 days a year for those who face life-threatening illness or injuries. Since its launch on St David’s Day in 2001, its three red helicopters, stationed in Mid, North and South Wales, respond to around 1,500 emergencies a year, saving countless lives across Wales.

Owing to the diversity of the landscape in Wales, the "helimed" service is vital for reaching both the remote countryside and busy towns and cities when time really matters. From mountain tops to back gardens, the helicopters can be anywhere in Wales within just 20 minutes.

In heavily congested urban areas, the ability to land within close proximity of the patient has proved critical in response to road traffic accidents. Equally, a helicopter can make a vital difference in rural locations, saving valuable time in areas where a land ambulance simply can not reach.

There are two advanced life support paramedics on each aircraft trained in the latest techniques in pre-hospital emergency care ensure the patient receives the most effective treatment for his or her condition. It is widely believed that a patient’’s chances of survival and early recovery are significantly increased if they receive the right care within the first hour, otherwise known as the "Golden Hour".

The fast response times of the Air Ambulance crews and their ability to reach such difficult locations increases the chances of a patient receiving definitive care within the this crucial hour.

The charitable service does not receive direct funding from central government. Additionally, due to its role as an emergency service, it also fails to qualify for National Lottery Funding. The money is therefore raised through charitable donations, fundraising events, and membership of their lifesaving lottery.

Wales Air Ambulance operates all over Wales and so any money donated to the charity will be used to assist people in their local community in their time of dire need.

FUW LAUNCHES EAR TAGS DISCOUNT SCHEME

The Farmers' Union of Wales has teamed up with Dalton ID Systems to offer its members a discount scheme for cattle and sheep tags that is being launched at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair (November 30-December 1).

The deal provides a 10% discount on Dalton cattle tags, free replacements when ordered from January 1, a 24-hour replacement service, and a free applicator with the first order.

And due to the potential combined buying power of thousands of farmers the union has also managed to negotiate a discount of up to 35% on the costs of electronic tags for sheep if ordered before March 31.

"We in Dalton ID Systems are fully aware that farmers are unhappy with the introduction of electronic tagging of sheep," said the company's UK national sales and business development manager Tudur Wynne.

"However, I'm looking forward to working closely with the union. This deal has meant that we could negotiate with our suppliers to reduce the cost of the materials and therefore reduce the cost of implementing EID on farms across Wales.

"It proves the proverb 'mewn undeb mae nerth' (in union there's strength)," Mr Wynne added.

Dalton was established in 1947 and, despite becoming a worldwide recognised brand, has remained a family-owned business for over 60 years. It was the first company to patent and produce two-piece plastic ear tags.

FUW business development director Emyr James, who helped negotiate the scheme, said: "During the Winter Fair we will have examples of the tags and supporting literature on display on our stand in the Livestock Complex Hall. Details of the ordering procedures for tags are also available at all FUW county offices."

FUW BURSARY WINNER DEMANDS ACTION TO ATTRACT YOUNGER PEOPLE INTO FARMING

The farming industry and government must act without delay to attract younger people into agriculture in Wales where the average age of farmers is 58, the 19-year-old winner of the Farmers' Union of Wales student bursary has demanded.

Iestyn Russell, who is studying rural enterprise and land management at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, chose to write a 1,000-word essay on the topic "What should the Welsh farming industry and government do to attract more young people into agriculture?" as his submission for the £700 bursary.

"This question has been the subject of debate for several years. We need to deal with the problem now or our industry will face major problems in the future," the Lampeter farmer’s son wrote.

He added: "Rural Wales’ young people are quite prepared to bridge the gap and take responsibility, but we must ask why they are not offered a chance to move forward within agriculture in Wales.

"Older farmers must take a step back and give young people a chance to experiment with their own ideas. But what encourages this to happen? Not a lot at the moment, but there are plenty of possibilities.

"Firstly, the profile of agriculture has to be raised in the public’s eyes. Farmers in this country do not get the respect, praise or the price they deserve, so this would be a good place to start. An advertising campaign on the television and in the daily newspapers would be worth considering.

"Perhaps the public would be willing to pay more for local produce and support Welsh farmers instead of buying imported food. They should be aware of the high level of care farmers in this country give their stock and they, therefore, deserve a better price for better produce."

Iestyn, an enthusiastic member of Cwmann YFC and this year's Wales YFC best junior stockman, also worked on the family's dairy and sheep farm at Cwmann, near Lampeter, and on a neighbouring beef and sheep farm before deciding to go to university to study for a degree "but my dream of farming is still as real as ever".

Speaking for the bursary scheme's judging panel, FUW agricultural education and training committee chairman Alun Edwards said they were very impressed with the way Iestyn expressed himself during his interview and in his written submission.

"We were confident that his broad knowledge of the industry will serve him well in the future. The submissions of the other award winners were also of a high standard."

Iestyn suggested other ways to attract more young people into farming could include schemes to assist the transfer of farms from the older generation to the younger generation. "Would some sort of pension scheme for the more experienced farmers work?

"Farmers could be offered a pension scheme to enable them to retire earlier, at 55 years old for example. Or keep the age as it is at present but offer them more money.

"Some sort of a succession scheme which would make the process of changing the people who run or own a farm easier would be a good idea. It would motivate both parties and avoid a long, drawn out process which is slow and expensive.

"This would mean looking closely at the rules of inheritance tax. One idea would be to reduce the rate if one member of the family was going to carry on farming the farm."

He acknowledged that the Welsh Assembly Government recently announced a scheme to support people under 40 years of age to make a living out of agriculture by offering a one-off payment of £15,000 to cover the costs new farmers face when they establish themselves as head of a holding for the first time.

"They also offer support to encourage share farming or joint ventures between young people. And another part of the scheme is that young farmers are mentored by an older, more experienced farmer.

“I believe that this is an excellent idea as it combines the new ideas and enthusiasm of young people with the older farmers’ experience and knowledge."

Iestyn stressed that depopulation, especially of young people, in rural areas had been a problem for years. Young people can find better, cleaner jobs elsewhere with more spare time and, more importantly, more money.

"Farming is one of the hardest jobs and, therefore, people who do this job deserve a fair wage. Unfortunately, the prices farmers receive are not enough and a fairer price is needed.

"The Government could set a threshold below which prices could not drop. This would not be favourable to the public or to private processing companies, but it would benefit the milk industry and this could offer a solution and prevent farmers from ceasing milk production.

"A ban on cheap imported foods would mean that farmers in this country could be better supported in order to increase production levels to satisfy the demand for food. It’s likely that this would create more jobs on farms and would reward farmers for their hard work.

"The Government could reduce some of the paper work which cripples and takes up farmers’ time. This would make the industry more attractive for young people to enter and more time would be spent on the land instead of in an office.

"There are numerous ways to tackle this old problem, but something needs to be done at once to give young people a fair chance. The responsibility not only lies with the Government and the industry, but also with the current and future farmers."

Runner-up to Iestyn is 19-year-old David Evans, of Groeswen Farm House, Groeswen, Cardiff, who has just started a four-year agriculture BSc degree course at Aberystwyth University. He receives £200.

Third is 22-year-old Manod Williams, of Tregerddan, Bow Street, near Aberystwyth, who has also just embarked on a BSc course in agriculture with animal science at Aberystwyth. He receives £100.

FUW DAIRY FARMERS' LEADER DEMANDS BETTER DEAL

Welsh dairy farmers are demanding better prices for their milk following a big improvement in world and EU markets for butter, milk powder, cheese and cream over the past few months.

"We understand that there is, inevitably, a delay between increasing world prices and those in the UK but this should be reflected in our milk cheques much sooner than it is," said the chairman of the Farmers' Union of Wales milk and dairy produce committee, Anglesey farmer Eifion Huws.

World butter and milk powder markets started rising in July, with the EU following about a month later, and even in the past month butter has increased by $600/t (20 per cent).

The rise is far greater for whole milk powder with New Zealand co-op Fonterra's monthly on-line auction price soaring by 88 per cent in just four months to $3,400/t. Meanwhile, cream prices have more than doubled since February to a record £1700/t, representing an income of 9.6p per litre (ppl).

"But the processors are crying wolf and making all kinds of excuses for not passing these increases down the chain to the producers," said Mr Huws.

"According to the latest Defra figures, the UK farm gate milk price this year ranged from 20.60ppl in May to 25.56ppl in January. Since then the world and EU prices have shot up but the UK farmgate price in September of 24.05ppl was still 2.50ppl lower than for September last year.

"The milk buyers are hiding behind all sorts of reasons for not passing on their profits to farmers yet they pay regular lip service in support of a long-term sustainable future for the sector.

"But faced with ever-increasing costs dairy farmers are increasingly leaving the industry - the number of dairy farms in Wales dropped by 670 between 2005 and 2008 and there are now barely 2,000 left. If processors don't play their part they may soon discover most of their loyal suppliers will have disappeared altogether."

FUW WELCOMES ASSEMBLY RATIFICATION OF TB ERADICATION POLICY

The Farmers' Union of Wales today described a 43-9 vote by Assembly Members in support of The Tuberculosis Eradication Order 2009 as a victory for common sense and democracy.

The Order gives the Assembly Government the powers to use culling and vaccination of badgers as part of its bTB eradication programme.

Speaking after sitting through the debate, FUW's TB spokesman Brian Walters said: “Assembly Members have already supported the principle of badger culling more than once, and this vote ratifies the cross-party support for that policy.

“During a recent consultation on this issue, 85% of Welsh respondents were in agreement that culling should be considered as part of a bTB control strategy, and I am glad that AMs have recognised the need to act in order to prevent the spread of this devastating disease.”

However, Mr Walters, a Carmarthen organic dairy farmer, was concerned that some AMs had allowed themselves to be persuaded to vote against the Welsh Assembly Government.

“Some of those who spoke in support of annulling the Order had clearly failed to understand the scientific evidence on this issue and some AMs even suggested that there was no established link between bTB in cattle and badgers, which goes against the opinion of every single expert on the matter.

“The chairman of the Rural Affairs Sub Committee, Alun Davies, made a crucial point that, when you analyse the evidence properly, as his committee has done, it points to infected badgers being largely responsible for the epidemic we are now facing.”

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones told AMs that the order had been laid following a 14-week public consultation and was fully supported by scientific evidence.

Last year, over 12,000 cattle were culled in Wales because of bTB and nearly £25 million was spent in compensation. Wales has already slaughtered over 8,000 cattle this year. This time last year it was just over 7,000.

By 2014, the cost to the taxpayer could be £80 million if action to eradicate TB in cattle is not taken.

SHOW STALWART'S AWARD FOR SERVICES TO AGRICULTURE IN CARMARTHENSHIRE

THIS year's winner of the Farmers' Union of Wales-United Counties Agriculture and Hunters Society annual award to the person making the most outstanding contribution to agriculture in Carmarthenshire is David Lloyd who has been a member of the society for over 40 years.

Mr Lloyd of Dolgwili, Glangwili, near Carmarthen, is a past chairman and president of St Peters YFC and club leader for over 20 years. He has also been a member of the Welsh Dairy Show committee for over 20 years and assistant chief steward for the last eight years.

He works with his wife Hefina for J J Morris Auctioneers in Cardigan.
He received his award during the Welsh Dairy Show's 20th anniversary dinner from FUW's Carmarthenshire county executive officer Meinir Bartlett.

During the dinner, a second award was made to Ronnie Thomas of Uwch Gwili, Peniel Road, Carmarthen, for his continued long voluntary service of over 40 years to the society. Mr Thomas received a framed photograph from the society's president Roger Evans.

FUW WARNS CUTTING CAP BUDGET WILL THREATEN KEY EU GOALS

THE Farmers' Union of Wales today reacted angrily to a draft EU report suggesting CAP spending after 2013 will be significantly reduced.

According to AgraEurope magazine, the report reveals spending would be cut in order to free up spending for new EU priorities.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: “The draft report outlines main priorities in the post-2013 financial period that include climate and energy security, and strengthening prosperity and security.

“Agriculture is a central to these key issues, and yet the draft proposals suggest a significant cut in the CAP budget.

“Any threat to the CAP budget will undermine the central role that farming must play in addressing these major challenges so to talk about such cuts while simultaneously outlining the importance of addressing these issues is simply ludicrous.

“The risks we now face in terms of food security and climate change, coupled with the challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, means that any threat to the CAP budget represents a threat to every EU citizen.”

The report also suggests a further splitting of the budget by introducing a "third CAP Pillar" in order to address climate change issues.

“Between 1988 and 2013 the overall share of direct agricultural support in the EU budget will have fallen by almost a half, while we have seen a massive increase in the number of EU Member States,” said Mr Vaughan.

“If a third pillar is to be introduced, then the CAP budget must be increased in a way that reflects that. The EU cannot just keep carving up an already diminished budget into smaller and smaller pieces and expect to address major problems such as climate change."

There is another suggestion that Member States might be given further freedom to "nationalise" agricultural spending.

“The UK already suffers disproportionately because of our historically low allocation in terms of Rural Development funding, and the national support mechanisms that exist in other member states," Mr Vaughan stressed.

“A further movement towards re-nationalisation of agricultural spending would undermine the whole principles that underpin the EU, and are likely to severely disadvantage Wales’s rural communities.”

FUW INVESTS IN TRAINING FOR CARMARTHENSHIRE PUPILS

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has invested in helping pupils at a Carmarthenshire school learn about the countryside and the food it produces.

The union has donated £600 to help set up an Agriculture and Countryside Management training course for 14 to 19-year-old pupils at Dyffryn Taf school, Whitland.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: "In past years there have been many instances of agricultural college mergers and closures and when we heard that Dyffryn Taf School were launching a new BTEC Agriculture and Countryside Management course for their pupils we were more than happy to lend a helping hand.

“It is vital that young people have the opportunity to learn of the challenges that face farmers from day to day as well as how food is produced.

“We need to ensure that the industry can continue to receive young, highly-trained technicians who have received top quality education and training.”

Head teacher Robert Newsome said: “As with any vocational course, costs are significant. We are very grateful therefore for the FUW’s financial support.

“They are seeing it as an investment into the industry that can provide proper training opportunities locally. The £600 will go towards buying personal equipment and tools for the course.”

The course is run in collaboration with the county's Coleg Sir Gar further education college as part of its Learning Pathway programme that offers continuity and progression for students aged 14 to 19.

Core elements of the course are: safe and effective working practices; transport supplies of physical resources within the work area; maintenance of structures and equipment; and care of animals.

AUDITORS RAISE FURTHER CONCERN ABOUT MILK QUOTA ABOLITION

A special report by the European Court of Auditors has raised further concerns over the impact milk quota abolition will have on Welsh and UK dairy farms, says the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW).

Speaking at the Welsh Dairy Show in Carmarthen, FUW milk committee chairman Eifion Huws said: “This is now the fourth report to be published in recent years that highlights the price volatility and fall in farm incomes that will accompany the abandonment of the milk quota regime.

“The FUW has received criticism from some regarding its long-standing policy on milk quotas, yet the evidence is now overwhelming - abandoning milk quotas will be a bad thing for the dairy industry, and that is something we cannot support.”

The Court of Auditors considered how effectively the Commission manages the market for milk and milk products with reference to the main objectives of EU dairy policy.

Those objectives include achieving equilibrium on the milk market, stabilising prices, and ensuring a fair standard of living for producers.

The Court found that the nominal milk producer price varied little during the 1984-2006 period compared with the period before the introduction of quotas. However, in real terms, the milk producer price has fallen continuously since 1984.

The report goes on to draw attention to the overall effects expected following the withdrawal of quotas.

These include “an increase in milk production, which should lower the market price”, “a reduction of producers' incomes, in spite of an increase in the quantities produced”, and “a stimulation of the EU's exports, possibly causing a downturn in world prices”.

The report also highlights the fact that farmgate and consumer prices do not follow parallel trends, stating: “Between the beginning of 2000 and mid-2007 nominal consumer prices for milk products increased by 17 % while the nominal price paid to the producer fell by 6%”.

It goes on to say that “on a market liberalised by the abolition of quotas, production capacities will remain relatively inflexible and producers might not be in a position to adapt rapidly to fluctuations in demand.

"The Council has decided to retain public intervention as a 'safety net'. But this safety net is so thin there is a risk it will be of only limited use in a major crisis and quite inadequate in relation to the risks in respect of the surpluses that the EU might face.

“The Commission and the Member States must ensure that the concentration of processing and distribution companies does not reduce milk producers to mere price-takers and does not restrict the final consumer’s possibility of enjoying an equitable share of price reductions.”

Mr Huws added: “Once again, the FUW’s long standing position on milk quotas has been completely vindicated. This represents yet more evidence confirming that the abandonment of the quota regime will significantly add to the problems already being felt by the industry.”

COPING WITH bTB RESTRICTIONS IS A REAL CHALLENGE, SAYS FUW MEMBER

The overwhelming impact of bTB restrictions on the day-to-day running of a farm was today brought home during a farm visit in Carmarthenshire arranged by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

First hand evidence of the impact of bTB restrictions was outlined during the visit to Penlan Argoed farm, Penlan Road, Carmarthen, run by FUW members Roger and Alison Evans and family.

Mr and Mrs Evans run a herd of 350 dairy cows and have been dealing with the challenges of bTB restrictions since April 2008. Due to the restrictions all unwanted dairy bull calves have had to be put down and beef calves, normally sold at two to three weeks, have to be reared on the farm.

Mr Evans said: “The130-head beef unit now involves a lot of extra work and puts pressure on farm buildings, especially over the winter months. We also had to change our grazing system in order to cope with the high stocking rate that has been forced upon us.

“The cows in milk are split into two groups - early lactation and late lactation. Due to three successive wet summers and as our stocking rate is currently at 3.3 LSU/ha we decided that the early lactation group would have to remain indoors until they are confirmed well in calf at about 140 days.

“This move was taken to reduce the pressure on the grazing land and to allow better quality pasture for the late lactation cows, especially as a lot of the farm is sloping and prone to poaching when wet.”

Due to the high stocking level, growing enough forage became a problem for the family farm. Feeding rationing on the farm is currently based on a semi-total mixed ration (TMR) system with flat rate concentrates being fed in the parlour.

“bTB restrictions have brought many challenges our way and we’ve had to work hard in order to resolve these problems.

“For example a lack of forage has meant that we had to extend the forage part of the ration by feeding brewers grains and sugar beet pressed pulp in the TMR. We also have to buy in additional silage as is needed, either as a standing crop or as silage from a clamp.”

In the past the family has invested heavily in order to increase their output which was already relatively high as their cows are producing on average 8,000 litres per annum.

“It was a case of grow or fold,” said Mr Evans.

The farm now boasts a 30/60 swing over herringbone parlour with a 22,000 litre milk tank and has a cubicle building for 155 cows. But even with the constraints of bTB restrictions Mr and Mrs Evans are looking to the future with an additional building of 50 cubicles and a feed passage for the fresh calver group planned for this winter.

“Our first priority at the moment is to be clear of bTB as early as possible so that we can sell all the beef cattle and increase the dairy herd to 400 cows in order to reach our goal of producing 3.5 million litres of milk per annum,” added Mr Evans.

“In the past we have bought in cattle from local herds and marts but our long term aim is to breed all our own replacements thus operating a totally closed herd in order to minimise disease challenges.”

The family also has plans to replace the older section of the dairy housing with a new more spacious and comfortable building to benefit the higher yielding cow.

Succession is important to Mr and Mrs Evans and they are keen to delegate more responsibilities to the younger generation in the family. “We are lucky our children are keen to farm, and we are keen to see them carry on with our farming tradition,” said Mr Evans.

The family are quite aware that more challenges lie ahead especially in terms of tackling tighter environmental restrictions in light of the effects of climate change. “There is no doubt that challenging times lie ahead of the industry.

“Climate change will undoubtedly bring about stricter environmental controls especially in respect to slurry and farm waste. And farming after 2013, with a reduced or no Single Farm Payment, will also be an obstacle that we’ll have to meet head on,” said Mr Evans.

Speaking after the farm visit, FUW’s dairy committee chairman Eifion Huws said: “The Evans family has a well run farm in Penlan Argoed and they are an example to us all. They have proved that, whatever obstacle is thrown in their way, where there's a will there's a way!”

LIFELONG SERVICE TO DAIRY SECTOR EARNS FARMER TOP AWARD

A Carmarthenshire farmer was today rewarded for his diligent lifelong service to the Welsh dairy industry.

Bryan Thomas was presented with the Farmers’ Union of Wales-HSBC Bank plc award for outstanding service to the Welsh dairy industry during today’s Welsh Dairy Show at Carmarthen.

United Counties Agricultural and Hunters Society chairman and a member of the judging panel Lynn Davies said: "Bryan’s contribution to the dairy industry in Wales and the UK throughout his lifetime is second to none and I am delighted that he has won this highly prestigious award."

Mr Thomas of Gelli Onnen, Cwmffrwd, Carmarthen, has been a board member of the National Milk Records for 15 years and is currently the chairman of the Dairy Development Steering Committee. He also sits on the Assembly’s Dairy Strategy Group.

He is a past Council member of the Holstein Friesian Society and is a founder member of the Welsh Dairy Show.

At the 2005 Royal Welsh Show, he received a Fellowship from the Royal Agricultural Society for his services to agriculture.

But most people would associate Mr Thomas with the highly respected pedigree Holstein Gelliddu herd which he and his father established during the 1950s.

The Gelliddu herd has won many herd competitions and events within the South Wales British Friesian Society, Holstein South Wales Society and the National Milk Records.

Mr Thomas now farms with his son Gareth and the herd continues to be one of the leading pedigree Holstein herds in Carmarthenshire.

Bryan is a well known prestigious judge at many national events. He also has strong links with the Carmarthenshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs due to his contribution to St Peter’s YFC.

He is the first person to receive two prestigious awards within the county as, in 2006, he won the FUW/Sioe Sir Gâr award for outstanding services to agriculture in Carmarthenshire.

FUW’S WORST FEARS ABOUT DEFRA’S ‘VISION’ FOR AGRICULTURE CONFIRMED

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today warned that Defra’s “Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)” would decimate Wales’s rural communities.

The stark warning follows publication of a joint report - by Queen’s University, Belfast; the Northern Ireland Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI); and the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) of University of Missouri - on the impact of changes to the European CAP proposed by Defra and the UK Treasury in 2005.

The work confirms the union’s worst fears and predicts massive falls in livestock numbers and commodity prices.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: “The FUW has raised our concerns regarding the impact of Defra’s proposals with Ministers, politicians, and civil servants, at every opportunity since 2005, and this work now confirms exactly what we have been saying.

“The proposals, if allowed to go ahead, will rip the heart and soul out of Wales’s rural communities and completely destroy what little food security we retain.

“The fall in livestock numbers would have serious consequences for Wales’s environment, while the drop in income for farms and food businesses would close down many businesses and cost thousands their jobs.”

The report predicts that Defra’s plans would result in a 191 per cent increase in beef imports, leading to a 29% fall in Welsh suckler cow numbers, whilst Welsh beef production could drop by 11%. Welsh ewe numbers are also set to decrease by 19%, and a 16% decline in finished lamb production is estimated.

Declining livestock numbers is also coupled with a decline in livestock prices. Hardest hit will be beef producers, with a staggering estimated drop in beef prices of 25%.

Last week the FUW, in evidence to the Welsh Assembly’s rural development sub committee, labelled Defra’s document as “a vision for the destruction of UK agriculture”.

During last week’s Labour Party conference, Defra Minister Hilary Benn emphasised the UK Government’s concerns regarding food security.

He said: “Our farmers and farmers around the world will have another two to three billion mouths to feed in two generation’s time.

“Our farmers - at the heart of our rural communities - are ready for the challenge. And we should support them in the great job they do.”

Responding to Mr Benn’s comments, Mr Vaughan said: “If this is really the case, then the government must stand by their words and dissociate itself from the 2005 vision document and policies that would completely undermine Europe’s food security and be apocalyptic for our rural communities.”

FUW HIGHLIGHTS WELSH DAIRY CONCERNS TO ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

THE Farmers’ Union of Wales today (Thursday October 1) highlighted key concerns about the future of the Welsh dairy industry during an official inquiry by the National Assembly’s rural development sub committee.

During the evidence session, FUW dairy committee chairman Eifion Huws stressed the need for farmers to receive a fairer share of the prices paid by consumers for dairy products, and drew attention to the predicted impact of milk quota abolition on Welsh dairy farm incomes.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Huws said: “The past 18 months has seen the publication of three detailed analyses of the impact for Wales, the UK, and other EU regions of quota abolition.

“Each one of those predicts a fall in Welsh farmgate milk prices and a fall in Welsh milk production as a result of quota abolition.

We are already experiencing the lowest production levels in four decades, and prices that are unsustainable. As a union standing for the protection of Welsh family farms, we cannot support changes to the EU milk regime that will reduce farm incomes and make matters worse.”

Mr Huws was referring to Defra’s 2008 report “Phasing out Milk Quotas in the EU”, the Joint Research Centre’s August 2009 paper “Regional Economic Analysis of Milk Quota Reform in the EU”, and the recently published “Impact of HM Treasury/Defra’s Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy on Agriculture in Wales”, all of which predict significant decreases in farmgate prices and milk production as a result of the abolition of the quota regime.

During the evidence session, the FUW slammed Defra’s “Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy”, describing it as a vision of the destruction of the UK agricultural industry.

“The document that details the impact of Defra’s ‘vision’ makes stark predictions for all key Welsh agricultural sectors,” said Mr Huws.

“Not only does it predict a fall in Welsh dairy incomes if Defra’s intentions became EU policy; it also predicts falls in incomes for the beef and sheep sectors that would decimate Welsh agriculture as a whole and tear the backbone out of rural Wales.

“There is now overwhelming evidence to support the FUW’s longstanding belief that abolition of milk quota and Defra’s ‘vision’ for the CAP is against the best interests of Wales, and I therefore trust that the rural development sub committee will take that evidence into account in making any recommendations to the Welsh Assembly Government.”

FUW WELCOMES CRUCIAL STEP IN WELSH bTB ERADICATION PROGRAMME

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today welcomed the laying of the Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 before the Welsh Assembly, describing it as a crucial step towards bTB eradication.

The Order, which will allow the Welsh Assembly Government to cull and vaccinate badgers for the purpose of disease control, was laid before the Assembly by rural affairs minister Elin Jones.

Following the announcement, FUW bTB spokesman Brian Walters, an organic farmer from Carmarthenshire who has lost numerous cattle to the disease said: “This is a long anticipated and much welcome step towards controlling a major disease vector.

“We know that bTB infected badgers are one of the greatest barriers to bTB eradication. We have seen cattle controls stepped up significantly over the past decade, yet incidences of bTB continue to rise at an alarming rate.

“Research has shown that bTB rates in Welsh badgers are around 17 times higher than they are in cattle. We simply cannot go on killing more and more cattle when all the evidence points to badgers being the most significant source of disease in our worst hit areas.”

The Order will also make it on offence to interfere with efforts designed to combat the disease, which Mr Walters described as a key component of the Order.

“If a cattle keeper obstructs the testing or removal of cattle for bTB control purposes, they are dealt with severely - and quite rightly so.

“The same must apply to others who interfere with the control of this deadly disease.

The disruption of the English trials, coupled with obstruction, must certainly have undermined the impact of those trials, and it is imperative that this does not happen in Wales.

“The English trials have shown that reducing badger numbers by 80% or so led to a fall in bTB incidences of 54%, and even outside the culling areas incidences have fallen by almost a quarter,” added Mr Walters.

NOMINATIONS INVITED FOR ‘OUTSTANDING’ FUW CARMARTHENSHIRE AWARD

Nominations are invited for the annual Farmers’ Union of Wales award to the person who has made the most outstanding contribution to agriculture in Carmarthenshire.

The award will be presented to the person who, in the view of the judges, has made the most outstanding contribution to the agricultural industry in Carmarthenshire during the last few years.

The judges will include representatives from the FUW, HSBC bank plc and the United Counties Agricultural and Hunters Society.

FUW’s Carmarthenshire county executive officer Meinir Bartlett said: "Nominations should be in the form of a letter or citation giving full details of the work and achievement of the nominee with, of course, emphasis on their positive and beneficial effect on agriculture in Carmarthenshire.

"The award will be presented at the 20th anniversary dinner of the Welsh Dairy Show on Friday, October 23 at the Quins Rugby Club, Carmarthen. Tickets are available from the FUW’s Carmarthenshire county office and the United Counties Agricultural and Hunters Society."

Nominations should to be sent to: Farmers’ Union of Wales, 13A Barn Road, Carmarthen, SA31 1DD by Thursday October 1.

FUW HELPS FARMER WIN CONTROVERSIAL 30-YEAR PLANNING ROW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales today revealed Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority granted permission for a permanent dwelling on a farm after the union helped the applicant compile records and details to demonstrate the farm’s viability.

Park authority officers had recommended refusal of the application by farmer John Phillips, of Nant y Mynydd, Cwm Gwaun, Fishguard, but he won an 11th hour reprieve in July after asking the FUW to compile a report to help justify the application which has now been granted.

"We were approached at a late hour to report on the financial viability of Mr Phillips’enterprise," said FUW business development director Emyr James.

"We were pleased to be part of a group of people supporting this application and that we were able to provide the written evidence the authority required. It must have been an extremely stressful period for John Phillips and his family."

Controversy had raged over the application for more than 30 years since Mr Phillips was first granted temporary consent for a residential caravan in 1974, which had been renewed until 1998.

A number of later applications to build a small house were refused and now, to add insult to injury, the authority had instructed Mr Phillips to remove his mobile home by October of this year.

The plight of the family was the subject of an S4C current affairs documentary "Y Byd Ar Bedwar" earlier this year.

"There was imminent danger that they would be turned out of their home where they had lived and worked their patch of Pembrokeshire all their lives like their forefathers before," said Mr James.

The authority received nine letters in support of the application, one of which referred to a petition of more than 100 names, and it was also backed by Cwm Gwaun Community Council.

Mr James also welcomed proposed Welsh Assembly Government changes to planning guidance announced recently by environment, sustainability and housing minister Jane Davidson.

"They will be of tremendous benefit to the farming community and rural areas. They recognise the fact that the rural economy is a dynamic process which needs to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

"They are also something the FUW has been campaigning for, for many years, and we will be actively engaged in the consultancy process to draw up the appropriate guidelines."

Under the proposals, Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6 is being reviewed to provide more opportunities for new affordable housing for local people and to broaden the scope of essential dwellings.

"TAN 6 is about meeting the needs of rural areas and helping to attract young people into farming by providing opportunities to build a second house on an established farm.
"It will encourage the 22 local and three National Park authorities to work with rural communities to identify opportunities for affordable housing and to diversify the rural economy.

"We share the views of a number of progressive individuals who believe that the concept of a National Park is meaningless unless the rural communities within the Park are viable, sustainable and vibrant," added Mr James.

FUW REWARDS YOUNG DAIRY FARMER WHO ACHIEVED 20-YEAR AMBITION

A young farmer who achieved a 20-year ambition to run his own dairy farm when his local council offered him a holding has won the Farmers’ Union of Wales Pembrokeshire branch’s annual Countryside Award.

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 the Pembrokeshire County Show today (Wednesday, August 19).

"From the first days that I could get about as a toddler I was helping out on the family’’s dairy farm at Martletwy," he said.

And he was barely into his teens when he developed an ambition to run his own dairy herd. But the family farm was sold 11 years ago due to the ill health of his father Brian who has since recovered from his illness.

"After that set-back I carried on working on local farms as a general farm worker," said Julian. "We moved to a smallholding and I always kept a couple of sucklers and remained very keen and interested in farming.

"But it was never enough to give me the start I needed so, about eight years ago, I began my own business of relief milking and agricultural fencing. It was extremely hard work but it was just the chance I needed."

Then four years ago he applied to run a National Trust farm and his ambition and drive helped him to be selected for the 40-acre Amroth Farm at Amroth. "This gave me the space to increase cattle numbers and keep my business thriving," Julian said.

But this was still not enough for him and he remained determined to achieve his ambition of owning a dairy herd. His break came just over 18 months ago when he had the opportunity to apply for the county council’s 90-acre dairy farm at Lower Coxhill.

"I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity even though it meant more commitment and less time for my existing business," he said. "But it meant I had realised my dream.

"I now own a herd of 60 dairy cows and still have my fencing business. I also help our silage contractor out."

When Julian took over Amroth Farm his girlfriend Libby moved in with him. They were married eight months ago and she is expecting their first child in December.

The judges said all three of the shortlisted nominees would have been very worthy winners but they eventually chose Julian because he had started and developed his business from scratch.

"Also, he had chosen to move into dairy production at a very difficult time for the sector which showed a high level of determination and commitment to the industry," the judges added.

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.

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/