Take advantage of free sheep scab testing, FUW urges members

News that examination of skin scrape samples from sheep showing suspect clinical signs of sheep scab is being offered free of charge in Wales, by the APHA and funded by the Welsh Government, between 2  November 2020 and  31 March 2021, has been cautiously welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

The scheme will aid accurate diagnosis, which is a prerequisite for appropriate treatment and successful control of sheep scab, which is a priority of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework.

Furthermore, the scheme will also encourage sheep farmers to work with their veterinary surgeon to protect their flocks from sheep scab.  As well as accurate diagnosis for controlling the disease if it occurs, good flock biosecurity is essential to keep it out. 

FUW deputy president Ian Rickman said: “It is extremely disappointing that the industry endorsed programme for the eradication of sheep scab, which was set to receive £5.1million from the Rural Development Programme last year, has been put on ice. 

FUW webinar puts spotlight on Ash Dieback

The Anglesey branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales is hosting a webinar on Ash Dieback, which is open to all members of the Union. The event will be held on Zoom on Thursday 19 November at 7pm. 

Jacob Milner, Ash Dieback Coordinator for Anglesey County Council will be giving a talk to provide more detail about the symptoms, how to spot the signs, what action to take, and also the landowners responsibilities if they have received a notice from the local authority.

FUW Anglesey County Executive Officer Alaw Jones said: “The disease is being discovered on many trees on the island of Anglesey and there seems to be a big lack of knowledge in how to deal with it. We are therefore encouraging members to join us for this free event to find out all of the essential information needed.” 

To book your place at the webinar, members need to contact the Anglesey County Office on 01248 750 250 or via email on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cautious welcome given to UK Government decision to extend Trade and Agriculture Commission role

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has given a cautious welcome to the decision to extend the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission and place it on a statutory footing, describing it as a welcome step towards addressing concerns over substandard food imports.

The UK government announced on November 1 that it had decided to extend the commission past its previous fixed term and give it a more active role through a new legislative underpinning, to be reviewed every three years.

Under the new plans, the commission will produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of any free trade deal negotiated by the UK government after the end of the EU transition period, which will be laid in Parliament before the start of the 21-day scrutiny period under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

The commission was originally set up in July 2020 to provide advice on trade policies the UK Government should adopt to secure opportunities for UK farmers, while ensuring the sector remains competitive and that animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined, but was due to be disbanded at the end of the year.

Deadline looms for BPS Support Scheme applications, FUW reminds members

Those farmers who have submitted an application for the Basic Payment Scheme via the Single Application Form (SAF) 2020 are being reminded by the Farmers’ Union of Wales, that time to apply for a BPS 2020 Support Scheme payment is running out, with the application window closing on Friday, 27 November.

The scheme will pay a loan of up to 90% of the business’ anticipated BPS claim value from 7 December to successful applicants whose full BPS claim is not processed for payment by 1 December. As this is an opt in scheme, farmers have to apply for the loan through their RPW Online account.

FUW Pembrokeshire CEO Rebecca Voyle said: “It is expected that the loan payments will be made during the week starting 7 December 2020 and all BPS loan payments will be made direct to farmers bank accounts.”

The loan value paid to farmers will be a maximum of 90% of their estimated 2020 BPS payment, which will be based on the area declared for BPS on the SAF 2020 and the number of payment entitlements held on 15 May 2020.

“I would like to urge all eligible farmers to consider making an application before the deadline as there will be no further opportunity to apply for a BPS loan after the 27 November.

“If you have any questions about completing your BPS Loan application you can either contact RPW’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 062 5004, or your local county office,” added Mrs Voyle.

FUW outlines key points from Mental Health Conference to Minister

On the eve of World Mental Health day (Friday, October 9) the Farmers’ Union of Wales hosted a virtual All Wales Mental Health conference, which explored the wider context of poor mental health in rural communities and what steps need to be taken by Government, decision makers and  policy shapers to address the situation, especially as Covid-19 is likely to put further pressure not just on people’s mental but also their finances. 

Speakers for the morning session, which was chaired by Farmers Guardian Chief Reporter Abi Kay, included Sara Lloyd, Team Leader, South Ceredigion Community Mental Health Team; Cath Fallon, Head of Enterprise and Community Animation Enterprise Directorate, Monmouthshire County Council; Lee Philips, Wales Manager, Money and Pensions Service; John Forbes-Jones, Corporate Manager Mental Wellbeing Services, Ceredigion County Council and Vicky Beers from The Farming Community Network, as well as North Wales farmer and DPJ Foundation volunteer Sam Taylor.

The afternoon session, which is chaired by well known TV Presenter Alun Elidyr, took a practical approach and heard from various dedicated mental health charities offering hands-on advice for those who are supporting a loved one going through mental issues as well as those who are currently experiencing poor mental health.

The event was also supported by Welsh Government’s Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs,Lesley Griffiths, and New Zealand farmer and mental health champion Doug Avery through video message.

Remember, remember - livestock and pets don’t like 5th November

With bonfire night fast approaching and official displays cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, 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.

“Official firework and bonfire displays have of course been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions and we therefore call on people to stick to the firework safety code at all times, to minimise the risk to livestock, pets and humans,” said FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman.

“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,” he added.

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 Ian Rickman.

It is also advisable to give neighbours a few days notice of your firework display, particularly if they are elderly, have young children or pets. 

“We also remind people that sky lanterns have been banned on all public land by all councils across Wales, as they pose significant dangers to livestock and are, of course, a considerable fire safety risk,” he added.

Technical BPS improvements welcome but changes to RDP objectives wrong

In responding to the Welsh Government’s latest Sustainable Farming consultation, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has supported a number of proposed technical changes to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) - but is adamant that plans to move Rural Development principles and objectives away from supporting farming, rural economies and jobs are wrong.

The Sustainable Farming and our Land: Simplifying Agricultural Support consultation set out eleven technical proposals relating to the BPS, which is expected to remain in place for a number of years while a new ‘Sustainable Farming Scheme’ (SFS) is developed. 

However, a second section of the consultation proposed radical changes to the principles, mission, objectives and priorities of the Rural Development Programme (RDP).

“Around two thirds of Wales’ total BPS and RDP budget is paid to farmers through the Basic Payment Scheme, so the RDP currently accounts for about a third of the budget,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

Schemes funded through the RDP include the Glastir schemes, Farming Connect, the Timber Business Investment Scheme, the Food Business Investment Scheme and LEADER.

Rejection to protect food import standards a betrayal of the public and farmers

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has reacted with anger and dismay at the House of Commons rejection to enshrine in law measures that would protect consumers and producers from sub-standard food imports.

MPs voted by 332 votes to 279 - a majority 53 - to reject the amendment to the Agricultural Bill which would have ensured food under any future trade deal would have to meet UK animal welfare and food safety rules.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “This Government sacrificed our industry at the altar, paving the way for lower-quality food to come into this country, rather than standing by their manifesto commitments. 

“We believe it was a grave error on their part to oppose the amendments in this way and once again their promises to look after our industry and protect consumers and producers alike are just empty words.”

Mr Roberts added that blocking the amendment, which would protect UK farmers and consumers from food produced to lower health, welfare and environmental standards, at a time when the importance of protecting the food security and health of the Nation was at the top of the agenda, beggars belief.