Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts outlined key concerns facing the dairy sector ahead of the annual Welsh Dairy
show at a special function held at Carmarthen Livestock Market (Monday, 28 October, 2019).
Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts outlined key concerns facing the dairy sector ahead of the annual Welsh Dairy
show at a special function held at Carmarthen Livestock Market (Monday, 28 October, 2019).
A delegation of dairy enthusiasts from the Farmers’ Union of Wales have made the pilgrimage to iconic Welsh cheese producer Caws Teifi Cheese in the heart of Ceredigion.
The Pembrokeshire branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales has organised a bingo evening in aid of the DPJ Foundation on Thursday 14 November, at Haverfordwest Cricket Club. Doors open 7 pm, eyes down at 8 pm.
The DPJ Foundation was set up in July 2016 following the death of Daniel Picton-Jones. The foundation aims to support people in rural communities with poor mental health, especially men in the agricultural sector.
Agriculture carries one of the highest rates of suicide and with mental health being such a big problem across society the foundation aims to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health and provide support services for those in rural communities.
FUW Pembrokeshire County Executive Officer Rebecca Voyle said: “I would like to extend a warm welcome to all to join us for what promises to be a fun evening - you never know ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Naughty 40’ or ‘Garden Gate’ might just be what you need. We hope that as many as possible will join us on the night to help us raise money to support the fantastic work the DPJ Foundation does.”
For more information on the event, contact the Pembrokeshire FUW office on 01437 762913.
The important role farmers play in keeping the wheels of the rural economy turning, concerns about the future of family farms in light of Brexit and wider #FarmingMatters, were top of the agenda when Farmers’ Union of Wales members and officials met with Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones.
Hosting the meeting at his farm Tymawr, Carrog, near Corwen, was FUW Meirionnydd County Vice-Chairman Edwin Jones. Speaking to the MP, he said: “Farming matters in so many ways that are seldom realised.
“Not only do farms produce food but they are also the cornerstone of our rural economies. Family farms, in particular, are at the heart of our rural economy, caring for our landscape, and of course our culture.
“They make innumerable other contributions to the well-being of Wales and the UK. Central to such benefits is the production of food and the improvement in domestic food security.
“All those businesses who supply essential services, materials, and machinery to farmers, through to the farmers themselves and their produce, to the processors who turn them into food, and the consumers themselves, have a critical part to play in our rural economy. And that is at stake if we get Brexit wrong.”
Pembrokeshire farmers embraced the baler twine, flat cap, rigger boots and moustache, as the Welsh Whisperer played a special charity fundraising concert in Maenclochog.
The evening was organised by the Farmers’ Union of Wales Pembrokeshire branch to raise money for two amazing local charities, The DPJ Foundation, and Farms For City Children in St David’s.
And a gwd thing it was, with the event raising over £850.
Rebecca Voyle, FUW Pembrokeshire CEO, said: “Thank you to everyone who came along to support our evening with the Welsh Whisperer, as you helped us raise a fantastic amount of money, which will be equally split between the two local charities.
“A great time was had by all and the younger members of the audience should certainly have slept well that night!”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales is looking forward to a busy Welsh Dairy Show (Tuesday, 29 October), with #FarmingMatters and the future of the industry high on the agenda.
Speaking ahead of the event, FUW Vice President Dai Miles said: “We look forward to welcoming members to the Union stand and those visiting the show are also invited to join us for some warming cawl at our outside trailer.
“There will be plenty of #FarmingMatters chats and we look forward to discussing the dairy industry with those who come to see us.”
The FUW is also looking forward to the annual eve of Welsh Dairy show farm visit, which will take place at Caws Teifi Cheese on Monday, 28 October and the evening function, held at Carmarthen Livestock Market, commencing at 7 pm.
“As is FUW tradition, we will be visiting an inspirational dairy enterprise in the afternoon of the eve of the Welsh Dairy Show and in the evening we look forward to hearing from our keynote speakers as they discuss the past and future of the dairy industry.”
Caerphilly farmer David Perkins, who farms at Duffryn Isaf Farm, Lanbradach, welcomed local Assembly Member Hefin David to his farm to discuss the most critical #FarmingMatters.
The farm extends to around 100 acres and carries a flock 220 breeding ewes plus 15 suckler cows. It has been in the family for 3 generations with David’s grandfather having bought the farm in 1945.
During the visit to the typical Valleys family farm, FUW officials explained how the proposed future farming support system, as laid out in the Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation, would impact upon the viability of farms like Duffryn Isaf.
The consultation proposes that future support should be designed around the principle of sustainability in a way which brings together the ‘wide-ranging and significant economic, environmental and social contribution or farmers’, through a single Sustainable Farming Scheme based on the principles of providing a meaningful and stable income stream; rewarding outcomes in a fair way; paying for both new and existing sustainable practices; and flexibility allowing every type of farm to apply.
FUW Gwent CEO Glyn Davies said: “We took the opportunity to highlight that farms such as Duffryn Isaf are likely to be severely affected by the removal of the basic payment scheme, and its replacement by environmental schemes. What is proposed is the replacement of direct support for farmers with what is, in essence, a public goods scheme.
With bonfire night fast approaching, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging people to remember the distress fireworks and sky lanterns can cause to livestock and pets and reminds them of the dangers posed by bonfires.
“We call on people to stick to the firework safety code at all times, especially over the bonfire and Halloween season, to minimise the risk to livestock, pets and humans,” said FUW Vice President Brian Bowen.
“This time of year poses many dangers to animals and children – so don’t let negligence and ignorance be the cause for a real-life horror,” added Mr Bowen.
Animals in general are not fond of the noise of fireworks and can become quite anxious during this time of year. Therefore, the FUW urges people to be considerate and not let them off near livestock.
“It is also a good idea to make sure that your pets have been micro-chipped by a vet and that the details on the chip are up to date prior to bonfire night, just in case they go missing,” said Brian Bowen.
The importance of staying safe on-farm and the benefits of producing food with the environment in mind, were topics high on the agenda at a recent farm visit in Meirionnydd.
Opening the gates to their beef and sheep farm to host the event, were FUW Meirionnydd county chairman Sion Ifans and wife Gwawr. The couple farm at Brynuchaf, Llanymawddwy.
The farm extends to 370 hectares, the majority of which is mountain land, and is a typical Meirionnydd upland farm.
Here they keep a flock of 900 Welsh mountain ewes, and 15 suckler cows. All store stock is sold through farmers marts, with all the finished lambs sent to Randall Parker Foods in Llanidloes or via Farmers Marts at the livestock auction in Machynlleth.
The farm has also been in the Glastir scheme since 2014, and there is a long history of participation in agri-environment schemes such as Tir Cymen in the early 1990’s when Meirionnydd was chosen as a pilot area for the scheme. Thereafter, the farm joined the Tir Gofal scheme until the opportunity came to join Glastir.
To supplement the farm income, Sion also works self-employed on a part-time basis with Farming Connect and Welsh Lamb and Beef Promotions and wife Gwawr is employed by Conwy Council as a translator.
Welcoming a delegation of local farmers and showcasing the various elements of the Glastir scheme, Sion said: “We have always cared deeply for the environment here at Brynuchaf and think that food production and looking after the land, go hand in hand.
“As food producers, we are subjected to all weather and are just as exposed as everyone else to climate change and the extremes it brings.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales says the draft withdrawal deal and political declaration agreed between the EU and the UK does nothing to allay concerns present in Theresa May’s original deal, given it contains ‘no significant changes or improvements for Wales’ and will place the UK outside the Single Market.
FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “From a Welsh perspective the deal is to all intents and purposes unchanged from when it was proposed by Theresa May.
“The fact that it seeks to take us well and truly out of the Single Market and Customs Union in order to pave the way for deals with non-EU countries, coupled with the UK Government’s alarming appetite for a deal with the USA, raises major alarm bells for Welsh farming and those concerned with UK food standards.”
Mr Roberts said it would clearly be a US priority in trade negotiations to secure access to the UK market for agricultural products - which are often produced in ways and to standards that fall well short of what is currently legal in Wales and the rest of the EU.
“The impact would be extremely damaging for Welsh farmers and UK food standards, and there is a real danger that the UK would be ‘deal-takers’ during the sort of negotiations this withdrawal deal and political declaration is seeking to allow.
Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Dai Miles has been elected as the new Farmers’ Union of Wales Vice President at the FUW’s Grand Council meeting in Aberystwyth (Wednesday, 16 October).
Dai has been the FUW’s milk and dairy produce committee chairman since 2017 and is also one of the 4 founding directors of Calon Wen, an organic milk co-operative that not only sells on its member’s milk to processors but has created its own brand of dairy products which are available through all major retailers in Wales and UK wide via distributors.
A self-confessed born Cardi, Dai lived in Felin Fach near Lampeter as a child and went to Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron. He is a fluent Welsh speaker and attended the Welsh Agricultural College in Aberystwyth where he received a National Diploma in Agriculture and completed a sandwich year at Godor Nantgaredig.
After college Dai spent 5 years as a Herdsman of 160 cows at Waun Fawr Glynarthen Llandysul, then a further 5 years at IGER Trawscoed working as a relief herdsman between the two dairy herds -Lodge Farm and the organic herd at Ty Gwyn.
In 1997, in partnership with his wife Sharron, the couple took on the tenancy of Barnsley Farm, a 143 acres farm in West Wales. At the time it was a stock/arable unit which they converted into an organic dairy unit starting with 33 cows and leased milk quota.
In 2001 they took on a further 90 acres of pasture land and then in 2005 the neighbouring farm within the same estate. At the moment the couple have 120 cows and 65 youngstock. Cropping is mainly grass, however arable silage, forage rape and fodder beet are part of the rotation farming approx. 300 plus acres.
In 2018 they purchased the neighbouring farm from the estate and installed a modern robotic milking system on the holding.
Speaking about his appointment Dai said: “One reason why I am proud to be a member of the FUW is that all members have a voice whether they farm large businesses or smaller farms.
Carmarthenshire sheep farmer and former Farmers’ Union of Wales Vice President Ian Rickman, has been elected as the FUW’s new Deputy President at a Grand Council meeting in Aberystwyth (Wednesday, 16 October).
He has been an active union member for more than 20 years and was Carmarthenshire county chairman from 2010 - 2012. He has also held the post of chairman of the hill farming and marginal land committee, a position he has held for four years. In 2017, Ian was elected as the FUW’s Vice President.
Over the past 2 years, he has worked tirelessly to represent the Union and its members at a variety of Welsh Government meetings, at farm visits with MP’s and AM’s highlighting why #FarmingMatters and represented the Union in a host of media interviews.
Ian is married to Helen and they have three sons. The family lives at Gurnos, an upland sheep farm near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. The farm extends to 220 acres with Common Grazing Rights on the Black Mountain, and Ian is a member of the Management Committee of the Black Mountain West Graziers Association.
Outside of farming, he was Chairman of Governors of Ysgol Gynradd Ffairfach and also enjoys rugby. He is a keen follower of the Scarlets and is an active Welsh learner.
Appointing Ian to his new role, Union President Glyn Roberts said: “Ian has already done so much for our industry, representing the views of our grassroots membership, holding Government to account and working tirelessly to spread the #FarmingMatters message.
Prominent Pembrokeshire beef and sheep farmer Brian Thomas, who has served the Farmers’ Union of Wales for over two decades, has stood down as the Union’s Deputy President.
Brian is a past county chairman of the FUW in Pembrokeshire and has previously sat on the FUW’s central tenant’s committee. He was elected South Wales member of the central finance and organisation committee in 2011, Vice President of the FUW in 2013 and Deputy President in 2015.
During the 1996 BSE outbreak, Mr Thomas led the campaign in South West Wales opposing the importation of inferior beef into Wales. In 1997 he led a group of farmers to Tesco’s stand at the Royal Welsh Show to address them about the unfair way in which they were treating the industry and he has been a leading figure in the fight against bovine TB.
Thanking Mr Thomas for his long service at the Union’s Grand Council meeting in Aberystwyth on Wednesday, 16 October, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Brian has been a rock-solid friend and working partner for over 20 years. He is always willing to help, support and give advice. It is fair to say that Brian is someone I could and do rely on.
“From the very start, Brian has gone above and beyond in serving not just this Union but the industry as a whole. He was never afraid to ruffle a few feathers if it meant farmers got a better deal, be that through leading protests or campaigning at Government level.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales is seeking urgent clarity on the reasons behind the decision by Tomlinson’s Dairies to close its doors and refuse milk.
This shock decision came in with almost immediate effect and has left many dairy producers in Wales scrambling to find another processor for their milk.
FUW Vice President Eifion Huws said: “We are extremely concerned for our members who are affected and who have contacted us. We had no prior warning and are extremely disappointed that farmers are left in a predicament where they have no one to collect their milk.
“If the speculation is true, and we have lost yet another major processor in Wales, this will come as a severe blow to farmers, workers and the industry as a whole at a time when significant efforts are being made to bolster and build on our unique Welsh brand.”
The end of beef processing at Llanidloes has been described as another blow for the industry by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
Speaking from his North Wales farm, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We completely understand the economic reasons for stopping the beef processing by Randall Parker Foods at the Llanidloes site. However, it is bad news for our farmers.
The failure by the UK Government to increase the tariff rates which would apply for imports of agricultural products from the rest of the world in the event of a no-deal Brexit has been described by the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) as an ‘own goal’ in terms of the UK’s negotiating position and a further failure to protect Welsh and UK farmers against low quality imports.
Those wanting to help the environment and lead a more sustainable, plastic-free life, are being encouraged to embrace wool by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
Speaking ahead of Wool Week 2019 ( 07 - 20 October), which aims to highlight wool’s natural performance qualities and ecological benefits, FUW Vice President Ian Rickman said: “Every year our sheep will produce a new fleece and they will do so as long as there is grass for them to graze on, making wool an excellent renewable fibre source.
“That is especially true if compared to synthetic fibres, which require oil and refineries and are a non-renewable resource for man-made fibre production.”
Ian added that sheep farmers actively work to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency in livestock production. The pull on natural resources and reductions required in the use of fossil fuels he says, means that consumers will have to look at their longer-term choices.
“We feed the nation with sustainable and well cared for lamb and take our responsibility to look after the environment seriously. We share concerns about plastic and micro-fiber pollution in our oceans and soil, as well as pollution from fossil fuels.
“Fabrics such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibres are all forms of plastic and makeup about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide.
Ahead of World Mental Health Day (Thursday, 10 October), the Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding farmers that help is available to them if they are suffering from poor mental health, or feeling suicidal.
World Mental Health Day is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health and this year’s Day is supported by WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health.
Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Indeed, there are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting to take their own life.
Speaking from his farm in North Wales, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “These are difficult times we live in. Many farmers and those living in rural communities often find themselves working alone for most of the day or feel isolated. There are so many uncertainties, stresses, and worries, putting pressure on us that might leave us feeling that we can no longer cope.
“And as much as we encourage those not feeling so good to speak up and seek help, sometimes they feel they can’t. Sometimes the last thing they want to do is talk about the things that have them feeling the way they do.
“That’s why it’s important that we come together as a community, family, and friends. Suicides and suicide attempts affect us all in some way. But it is preventable.
Farmers want to produce sustainable food and care for the environment, that was the message from 3rd generation livestock farmer Hywel Davies when he met with Welsh Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles AM.
Hywel Davies, who farms at Perthigwion Farm, Rhydfro, Pontardawe, Swansea, opened the gates to the farm, which has been in the family since 1952, showcasing how food production and caring for the environment can and do, go hand in hand.
He owns 250 acres and rents 130 acres, keeping around 1000 sheep, 42 cows with calves as well as breeding around 35 rams a year for sale. The farm also has rights to graze two commons and is part of the Glastir Advanced Scheme.
Speaking on his farm, Hywel said: “I am the 3rd generation to farm this land. I care for it deeply and I care about how our food is produced. We have known for generations that if we look after the environment, the environment will look after us.
“So it worries me that 40% of the food that is being consumed in this country is imported and a fifth of the fresh foods imported come from areas that are threatened with climate chaos.”
Hywel has been actively involved with Coed Cymru and the Forestry Commission since 1988 as well as engaging in various conservation and regeneration schemes that go hand in hand with food production. He added: “Governments must wake up to the fact that farmers here in Wales are the answer to that problem. We support local livestock markets, maintain the local rural economy, support local jobs, as well as producing top-class food. But the way things are looking at the moment, I worry about the future of our sector is.
“Look at the price for sheep wool - it costs £600 for a contractor to shear the sheep and we only receive £200 from the Wool Board. We received £1.50kg for a lamb in Sennybridge Market last week, yet the price was £1.80kg the week before.
“The price of commodities seems to be falling rapidly. And yes, at the moment we can just about handle that, but what happens when we have no markets to sell to in 4 weeks time or we are faced with tariffs that make it impossible to keep producing food or have to deal with further regulations that prevent us from producing food in a sustainable way? Not to mention the very real possibility of direct support disappearing.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says the UK Government’s new proposals to solve the Northern Irish impasse would still leave Wales and Welsh farmers ‘out in the cold’ - even if the EU accepted the offer.
FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Even if the EU accepts the offer in spite of the Good Friday agreement, it makes no difference to the core concerns regarding the impact on Welsh agriculture and the Welsh economy.”
Mr Roberts said that the Union remained clear in its view that the UK as a whole should remain within both the Single Market and Customs Union in order to minimise severe economic impacts.
“Re-fudging the Irish backstop to try and address valid Northern Irish concerns should not be perceived as a ‘new deal’ for the UK as a whole. It does nothing to stop the worries inherent in the original Withdrawal Deal, which would in any case only apply for a very short period. Nor would it make any difference to the vague and open-ended Political Declaration which relates to how Wales and the UK would trade with the EU in the long term.”
The Union president said that the most sensible option, therefore, would be for the whole of the UK to stay within the single market and the customs union.
The option of leaving the EU while staying within the single market and the customs union should not be forgotten, and is the best way to respect the referendum outcome while preventing damage to our economy and rural communities, the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has told a conference on the future of rural Wales.
Addressing the Welsh Local Government Association's Sustainable Rural Communities Post 2020 event, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: "We are told there is a deal on the table – Theresa May’s Brexit deal – and that we have a choice between this, a new deal if one is reached, and a no-deal Brexit.
"But there is another deal on the table which was advocated by the FUW shortly after the referendum and has been referred to repeatedly by EU politicians as their preferred option:
"That is the option to honour the referendum - by leaving the EU - but to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union in order to prevent immense damage to our economy and in particular to our rural communities."
Speaking after the event, Mr Roberts said that while some interpreted the referendum as a mandate to leave the customs union and single market, he believed that such an interpretation was spurious.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales says it is prepared to challenge any failures by the UK Government to properly enforce customs controls in a way which allows a ‘back-door’ for tariff-free imports after Brexit, and will do so through the courts if necessary.
Speaking after an industry meeting in Builth Wells held to discuss the damaging falls in cattle prices, FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “Since draft import tariff rates and the proposal to allow tariff-free imports from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland were published in March, we have written repeatedly to Secretaries of State underlining the damage that those low rates would cause to Welsh agriculture, as well as raising concerns in numerous meetings.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales is raising a glass to milk and celebrating the nutritious drink which has been a staple item in our fridges for decades.
Speaking ahead of World School Milk Day (Wednesday 25 September), FUW Milk and Dairy committee chairman Dai Miles said: “Milk and dairy products have an important part to play in our daily diet as they provide an important source of protein and calcium and contain essential vitamins and minerals, all of which are needed for a balanced diet.
The Farmers' Union of Wales has slammed a decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to further restrict the ability of farmers and conservationists to control birds which are damaging crops or livestock, spreading disease or causing harm to species of conservation concern.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has raised close to £40,000 for its charities Alzheimer’s Society Cymru and the Farming Community Network, following two years of successful fundraising.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or any other type of dementia, research is desperately underfunded and there are not enough researchers and clinicians joining the fight against dementia.
Alzheimer's Society is committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research to improve care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow. This includes £50 million to develop the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
The Farming Community Network (FCN) is a charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. FCN is a network of over 400 volunteers, with around 40 based in Wales, many of whom are involved in farming, or have close links with agriculture and therefore have a great understanding of the issues farmers and farming families regularly face.
FCN runs a confidential national helpline and e-helpline which is open every day of the year from 7am-11pm. Volunteers provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who seeks help, whether the issue is personal or business-related.
Presenting the money to the charities, with Alzheimer's Society Cymru receiving £29,628.31 and the Farming Community Network £9,876.10, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “I am proud to present these two fantastic charities with the funds our members and staff have raised over the last 2 years.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales Gwent team enjoyed a busy, #farmingmatters focused Usk show, on Saturday 14 September.
The event, which has been held on the second Saturday in September since 1844, once again celebrated the very best of Monmouthshire farming and rural life.
Political visitors to the FUW stand included David Davies MP and Nick Ramsay AM, with Brexit and the Welsh Governments “Sustainable Farming and our Land” consultation being the main topics of discussion.
FUW Gwent County Executive Officer Glyn Davies said: “We had a great time at Usk show - it was a time to show the quality of produce, a time to meet and catch up with old friends and a time to demonstrate the value of agriculture to a wider audience.