FUW responds to UK Internal Market White Paper highlighting devolution must be respected and unfair competition recognised

In response to a UK Government white paper on internal markets, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has stressed the importance of protecting Welsh farmers against unfair competition from other parts of the UK and countries across the globe, and that Welsh devolution must be respected.

In his introduction to the UK Internal Market White Paper, Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, highlights how increasing differences between rules and standards applied by different Governments in the UK’s four nations after Brexit could cause market distortion, discrimination and unfair competition for businesses in a way not seen for hundreds of years.

The White Paper therefore proposes measures to prevent such impacts based on the principles of ‘non-discrimination’ and ‘mutual recognition’

FUW Head of Policy, Dr Nick Fenwick said: “We are glad the UK Government has woken up to the need to take this issue seriously as it has previously been kicked into the long grass because it is so politically contentious.”

Funding for broadband welcomed, but it must reach rural communities

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has responded positively to news that there are plans to bring full fibre broadband to an additional three million homes and businesses in some of the UK’s most isolated rural communities, but stresses it must really reach them. 

The connection to 3.2 million UK premises, which was given the go-ahead after an Ofcom consultation, is reported to be part of a £12bn investment by Openreach to build full fibre infrastructure to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the end of this decade. 

Places set to benefit include Aberystwyth in west Wales, Millom in Cumbria, Thurso in north-east Scotland, and Ballycastle in County Antrim. Openreach is due to publish the full list of the 251 locations, referred to as Area 3, where it will build the new network. Ofcom has estimated there are 9.6 million homes and businesses situated in this final third of the UK.

Responding to the announcement, FUW Ceredigion county chairman Morys Ioan said: “The last few months have served as a stark example of how vital connectivity is. Our own Union staff, many of whom live in rural areas, have been working from home and we have continued to assist members with digital paperwork for their farm businesses. Without an internet connection this would not have been possible. 

“It is really good news that this extra funding is being directed at rural communities but we must make sure that it really does go to those premises who currently are not benefitting from full fibre broadband. Our rural towns and villages have been left behind in the race for better and faster connectivity and it is critical for the competitiveness and viability of rural businesses, and the economy, that tangible improvements are made now. The FUW has stressed on many occasions that those without a connection cannot diversify their businesses, that they cannot support their children’s education and that they cannot connect readily with Government programmes for advice and support payments as they are mandated to do.”

FUW urges vigilance following increase in dog thefts

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging farmers to be vigilant following alerts by South Wales Police that there has been an increase in dog thefts across the UK.

FUW Glamorgan County Executive Officer Rachel Saunders said: “Whilst recent statistics don’t show an increase in the South Wales policing area and these crimes are extremely rare, vigilance is the best policy. Dog theft is very distressing for both owner and pet and we urge our members and the public to not just be aware of the problem, but to take active steps to reduce the risk of their dog being stolen. Please also report all suspicious dog sales to the police on 101 or Trading Standards.”

Advice from South Wales Police urges dog owners to avoid leaving dogs in the garden or outside kennels if you are not home, to think twice before leaving your dog alone, secured outside a shop or any other location, to ensure your dog’s microchip information is up to date and to have a current photo of your dog.

For further advice on how to protect your dog from being stolen visit: https://fuw.org.uk/en/news/14048-tips-to-reduce-the-risk-of-dog-theft

Tips to reduce the risk of dog theft

Dog theft is very distressing for both owner and pet. To try to reduce the risk of this happening follow the guidance and keep your dog safe.


Top Tips:

Avoid leaving dogs in the garden or outside kennels if you are not home
Think twice before leaving your dog alone, secured outside a shop or any other location
Make sure your dog’s microchip information is up to date
Keep a current photo of your dog

FUW welcomes vaccine trials as step forward in Bovine TB control

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the news that bovine TB vaccine trials are due to begin shortly in England and Wales. The trials form part of a longer-term strategy towards possible vaccine rollout by 2025 and will be conducted over the next 4 years on behalf of the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and Defra.

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer, said: “Bovine TB continues to be one of the most significant issues facing cattle keepers in Wales, with more than 12,000 cattle slaughtered in 2019 due to this disease.   Losing TB-free status is devastating to farming families and their businesses and the restrictions on a farm business can be emotionally and financially destructive.”  

The current Welsh bovine TB eradication programme target for TB freedom is 2041.  However, much of the current TB eradication programme is reactive and removes animals from the farm after they have contracted the disease.  Vaccination, in combination with a usable DIVA test, can act as a preventative measure and could play a vital role in disease eradication. 

“The start of vaccine trials represents many years of research and development into bovine TB vaccines and diagnostic tests.  We hope to be informed as the research continues and we will await the results of the trial with great interest. 

“Cattle vaccination continues to be one of the tools in the tool box that have, so far, been unavailable to our members and we welcome the news that work on this aspect of bovine TB control is moving forward. However, vaccination is not a silver bullet and it remains just one method of bovine TB control.  We continue to support an holistic approach to bovine TB control in Wales which is guided by science and not politics,” added Dr Wright. 

Wales’ farming Unions discuss climate change with UK's High-Level Climate Action Champion

Wales’ Farming Unions - NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales- held a successful joint virtual roundtable meeting with the UK's High-Level Climate Action Champion, Nigel Topping.

In addition to wider discussions around climate change, the roundtable event provided a platform to discuss the “Race to Zero” campaign, an international campaign for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery, which was launched on World Environment Day, and will run up to COP26 . 

Don’t be complacent when it comes to farm safety, FUW warns

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is warning the agriculture industry not to be complacent when it comes to keeping safe on farms. The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show a reduction in farm fatalities, highlighting that 18 less people have lost their lives last year and 9 less than the 5-year average (30).

Whilst this is the lowest number of deaths recorded in the last 5 years, there were still 21 deaths, including 3 in Wales. Half of the workers killed were aged 55 years or older and the youngest person killed was a 4-year old child.

While the number of deaths by each cause varies each year, the 5 most common remain as:

  • Struck by moving vehicles
  • Fall from height
  • Struck by an object
  • Killed by animals
  • Contact with machinery 

Responding to the latest statistics, FUW President Glyn Roberts, said: “Whilst this is a welcome reduction in fatalities, we still haven’t reached zero and just one death is one too much. There are still too many people dying on farms across the UK, and I urge the industry not be complacent - your safety and that of your family is hugely important. 

“Whichever way you look at it, we still have serious Health and Safety challenges on our farms: Over the last twenty years, other industries such as construction and quarrying have greatly improved their safety records, while unfortunately farming has not. It is frightening that you are, despite everything, six times more likely to be killed on a farm than you would on a building site.”

FUW asks: ‘Food supply chains and production - global outlook with a local strategy’ What has Covid-19 taught us?

As part of the virtual Royal Welsh Show, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is hosting a seminar to explore the lessons the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us when it comes to food and our supply chains, what measures need to be put in place to safeguard food producers and consumers and examine if local strategies with a global outlook are the key to food security.

Joining the virtual conversation on Tuesday 21 July are Carmarthen County Council Corporate Policy & Partnership Manager, Gwyneth Ayers;  Principal Investigator of IKnowFood Professor Bob Doherty; Cardiff University Professor of Governance and Development Kevin Morgan and Food and Drink Wales Deputy Head of Food David Morris.  

FUW President Glyn Roberts, who is chairing the event, said: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Welsh food producers and the dangers of trade and rural support policies which undermine UK food security have starkly come to the fore over recent months.

“Covid-19 hit all sectors of life and was met with panic buying and empty supermarket shelves. However, it wasn’t luxury items that the general public rushed to get their hands on but the essentials like food. 

“For many years the FUW has stressed that food security is an issue that needs desperate attention and the last few months have served to illustrate such concerns. I therefore look forward to discussing these and some other very pertinent issues with our panel of experts and hope many of you will join us online for this webinar.”