The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru seek the votes of Dwyfor Meirionnydd farmers

Members of Eryri and Meirionnydd Young Farmers Clubs, as well as NFU Cymru and the FUW, recently had the opportunity to hear from two of the General Election prospective candidates at Porthmadog Football Club.

Liz Saville Roberts and Tomos Dafydd Davies, from Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives respectively, came along to address a strong audience of farmers who were keen to hear about both parties' vision for the industry.

Members took the opportunity to put questions to the candidates which focused on rural banking, financing agri-businesses, as well as environmental issues, and law and order.

But Brexit was undoubtedly the main themes of the evening with the issues raised all revolving around the potential effects of leaving the European Union, on the livelihood of the electorate.

Sion Ifans, County Chairman of the FUW and chair of the meeting, said: “It was good to see both candidates giving their time to talk to the agricultural industry - it is encouraging that both parties see the importance of the agricultural industry from within the Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency.”

Emlyn Roberts, County Chairman of NFU Cymru added: “Both candidates have been very open in their discussions with us. Those who listened to them have a broader understanding of their proposals and I hope the discussion that has taken place will help them reach a decision on where to cast their vote.

New Year message from FUW President

Even before December 12th, 2019 had been one of the most unusual periods in British politics in recent decades, as arguments over Brexit further divided Parliament, political parties and the nation; Government ministers continued to resign in droves; three proposed Brexit dates came and went; MPs were expelled from or defected between parties; and the Westminster Government was defeated in court cases that went to the very heart of the UK’s parliamentary democracy.

Against this often bewildering background, growing concerns about the impact of climate change led to the rapid rise of the Extinction Rebellion movement and commitments to slash UK greenhouse gas emissions, while for Welsh farmers it has increasingly felt that the media has deliberately adopted an anti-red meat agenda by failing to discriminate between the environmental footprint of different forms of food production around the globe.

Closer to home, with rock-bottom beef prices already shattering confidence, the Welsh Government’s plans to introduce costly regulations in the form of an effective all-Wales Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) merely added to fears, while the conciliatory tone of a consultation on future Welsh farm support suggested that at least some of the dangers of the proposals put forward in 2018 had been recognised - but not the core worry that Wales deserves a dynamic, carefully crafted scheme aimed at tackling modern challenges, rather than one based on the decades-old concept of payments for environmental public goods.

With the December 12th election results having delivered a seventy-eight seat majority to the Conservatives, including many in traditional Labour-voting constituencies, 2020 will be a very different year to what it might otherwise have been.

Firstly, and most importantly, this majority has meant Parliament has now ratified the EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, meaning the UK will almost certainly leave the European Union on the 31st January 2020, triggering an eleven-month period of UK-EU negotiations during which a long term trade deal with the EU will hopefully be agreed and ratified.

As such, February 1st 2020 marks the start of the ‘real’ Brexit negotiations, and for most people it is likely to feel like very little has changed.

Many have speculated that the extension of the Withdrawal Period to beyond December 2020 is likely, given the complexity of what must be negotiated and the infrastructure, such as new border controls, that must be put in place before the end of the period.

While keeping the promise to ‘get Brexit done’ rapidly will be a political focus for Boris Johnson, the FUW maintains its long-held view that we must get Brexit done safely, over a realistic timescale that ensures a UK- EU trade deal which delivers full and unfettered access for our Welsh produce to EU markets.

With the UK Government now representing many former Labour constituencies where jobs in manufacturing and other areas are particularly reliant on access to EU markets, and a majority that significantly dilutes the power within the Conservative party of those who support harder forms of Brexit, this raises some hopes that an UK-EU trade deal which is more favourable for Welsh farmers might be secured.

However, the obstacles to achieving this are significant, given the apparent clash between the stated objectives of the Conservative Party in relation to increased sovereignty and freedom to trade with non-EU countries, and the EU’s desire to protect its internal markets and standards.

Of course, with February 1st 2020 also marking the date on which formal trade negotiations can start with countries such as the USA - a country with an economy which is seven times more powerful than that of the UK - the risk that we might sign up to disadvantageous deals which introduce unfair competition from farmers in countries where health, hygiene, welfare and environmental standards fall well short of those required of us, remains a real spectre.

Far from being unfounded, there is plenty of evidence that such disadvantageous trade deals could not only be struck, but that UK farmers could simultaneously be hit with further restrictions and regulations: Successive agriculture ministers have spoken about raising UK standards and restricting animal movements after Brexit, while leaked notes from informal UK-US trade discussions held earlier this year refer to lowering food standards and reducing food labelling to allow imports of US food, as well as the exclusion of conditions relating to climate change from any future trade agreement.

With environmental issues, and in particular greenhouse gas emissions, a clear priority for all UK political parties, and a US administration which denies the very existence of man-made climate change and allows production standards UK farmers would regard as unethical, the political desire to show a trade deal can be reached with the US must not be allowed to compromise our farming and food industry.

Critical to trade negotiations over the coming year will be the tariffs and Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs)  which apply on imported goods - taxes and limits which can be adjusted in order to secure better deals with other countries. But with the Import Tariff (Reduction) Bill 2017-19 setting draft tariff and TRQ rates at bargain basement levels for agricultural imports, and suggestions by the Prime Minister that checks on imports from Northern Ireland may not even be applied, it is imperative that the new UK Government review these rates and align them with those of the EU. And if there is any suggestion that UK producers and standards are to be compromised through a trade deal, whether with the US or elsewhere, our industry must be prepared to stand up and make its objections known.

Whichever political party they represent, MPs from rural constituencies in particular must recognise the dangers for their constituents of trade deals which disadvantage farming, while we must hope that, in the interest of a well-functioning democracy, those parties which have been so damaged by the election quickly regroup to take up the essential role of becoming effective in opposition, and scrutinising Government.

While the Brexit issue clearly inflicted damage on Labour and the Liberal Democrats at the 2019 election, this was far from being the only factor, and many Labour politicians have been open in expressing their fear that the party has lost touch with traditional working communities through its adoption of a far-left cosmopolitan agenda.

As the central Labour Party take stock, and deliberate as to whether or not this is the case, it is also important for Welsh Labour and Assembly Members from all parties to do the same: After twenty years of devolution, Cardiff Bay seems more remote than ever for the working families in our farming and rural communities, while radical policies such as plans to open up rural access for canoeists and mountain-bikers seem aimed far more at pleasing the cosmopolitan urban elite than meeting the needs of hard-working families.

Such frank statements make uncomfortable reading, but I make no apology for telling it as it is; and with 2020 likely to be critical to the future of our industry we will continue over the coming year to ensure our family farms are placed at the heart of all future policies.

This would not be possible without the commitment of FUW staff and officials across Wales, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work in 2019, and wish all Members, staff and colleagues all the very best for 2020.

FUW looks forward to Farmhouse breakfast week 2020

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) teams across the country are once again hosting a variety of farmhouse breakfasts (Monday 20 - Sunday 26 January 2020) and the FUW is also once again taking the farmhouse breakfast to Cardiff on Tuesday 21 January.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfasts every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout in January. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow for us every day of the year, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Glyn Roberts.

Details for breakfast events near you can be obtained from the local FUW office.

Ceredigion farmers turn out in force to quiz election candidates

Farmers from Ceredigion turned out in force to quiz general election candidates at a hustings organised by the local Farmers’ Union of Wales branch and Ceredigion YFC.

The event, which was held on Wednesday 4 December at Lampeter Rugby Club and chaired by YFC Young Farmer of the Year Endaf Griffiths, heard from Ben Lake - Plaid Cymru, Mark Williams - Liberal Democrats, Dinah Mullholland - Labour, Amanda Jenner - Conservatives, Chris Simpson - Green Party and Gethin James - Brexit Party.

Speaking after the event, FUW Ceredigion County Chairman Morys Ioan said: “ I would like to thank everyone who attended the hustings and used the opportunity to find out what each of candidates have to offer in terms of agriculture and their thoughts on wider farming matters. 

“We had a very interesting and lively discussion on a number of agricultural topics, mainly Brexit, TB and what the future of agriculture could bring for young farmers. I hope our members now feel better placed to make an informed decision when they take to the polls in just a few days time.”

Montgomeryshire farmers get chance to ask Election hopefuls about #FarmingMatters

Farmers from Montgomeryshire are invited to join an election hustings, organised by the local Farmers’ Union of Wales branch, to quiz General Election hopefuls about #FarmingMatters.

The hustings, which will take place on Monday 9 December at Welshpool Livestock Market, starting at 12.30 pm, will give members the opportunity to hear from the candidates about their respective parties’ policies for agriculture. 

Confirmed speakers are Craig Williams  - Conservatives, Kait Duerden - Labour, Gwyn Wigley Evans  - Gwlad Gwlad and Kishan Devani - Liberal Democrats.

FUW Montgomeryshire County Chairman Bryn Francis said: “In a period of political uncertainty, where our future trading relationship with the European Union remains unclear, this is an important opportunity for every farmer to quiz their prospective member of parliament on how they view the way forward. 

“With much of the debate centred on national and international issues, this event is also an opportunity for our farming members to engage with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community. 

“I would encourage members of the farming community to take up this opportunity to pose questions to those that seek to represent them in the next parliament at Westminster.”

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire farmers quiz election hopefuls at hustings

Farmers from Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire came together to quiz general election hopefuls in an agricultural husting event, which was held at Carmarthen Athletic Rugby Club, on Monday 2 December. 

The well-attended event, which was hosted in partnership with NFU Cymru and Carmarthenshire YFC, heard from Simon Hart (Conservative), Marc Tierney (Labour), Alistair Cameron, Welsh Liberal Democrats and Dr Rhys Thomas Plaid Cymru, as the candidates outlined their party policies before the floor was opened to questions from the audience. 

FUW Carmarthen chairman Philip Jones said: “I would like to thank the candidates who joined us on the night for their contributions and the thought-provoking conversations.  

“It was by no means a single subject discussion and our farming members engaged with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community.  

“I hope our members now have a clearer idea of what the parties are offering and feel that they can make an informed decision when they take to the polls in a few days time.” 

Young farmers hear of robotic benefits on Pembrokeshire dairy farm

Nestled just outside of the small Pembrokeshire village of Puncheston, near Haverfordwest, is Fagwrfran East farm, home to the Williams family, and 150 dairy cows. 

Here Michael Williams farms with his parents Gareth and Annette, producing milk for cheese on a First Milk contract. When the family bought the farm in 1981, it was derelict and hadn't been farmed for a few years. It had been mainly a beef and sheep farm but as Gareth and Annette had both come from dairy farms, and dairy was their passion, it was converted to a dairy farm.  

Gareth and Annette started milking with a few cows in a second hand 8 abreast parlour. They progressively built the dairy herd up and whilst Michael studied for his A levels they installed a 10/20 swing over herringbone style parlour. 

Michael returned home to the farm in 2006 after completing a Master degree in Exploration Geology at Cardiff University and after a few years became a partner with his parents in the business. 

The farm continued to grow with investment in buildings, silage pits, slurry storage and lately the Robotic Dairy. Since January 2017 the herd has been milked by DeLaval VMS robots with a third robot installed in the summer of 2018.

Taking a group of young farmers for a tour of the farm, as part of the FUW Academi organised by the Union’s Pembrokeshire branch, Michael explains some of the benefits of doing things differently.

“Milk output has changed dramatically from the conventional system to the robotic system. It’s fair to say the cost of production is higher but the rewards in both animal health and milk quality are worth it. 

“We can produce consistent volumes of high constituent milk which suits our milk contract with First Milk who turn our milk into cheese. The robots allow us to have better control over feeding, and cows who have the potential to produce a lot of milk get the opportunity without the limitations of twice a day milking. 

“Our foot health has improved and our mastitis rates have dropped, and hence we have seen a dramatic reduction in treatments. However, with lower cell counts and a far more hygienic environment from milking to accommodation, we have to be even more vigilant against particular mastitis bugs,” said Michael.

Showing the group the new robots and demonstrating how they work, Michael adds: “There are so many different reports and settings, which provide us with all the information we could possibly need. For example, I can tell if a cow has mastitis 1 day before she actually shows clinical signs. I also know exactly how much milk a cow produces, how often she wants to walk through to be milked or if she is not walking through as often as she did before. There is no place for a poorly cow to hide, the system will pick it up straight away.” 

The cows learn how to use the system, which usually takes them about 15 attempts or 3 days and then they know what to do, he says. 

“Once they have learned how to go through the gate, they get milked automatically if they are ready for milking and if they try to go through too often, they get redirected to the exit. 

“This type of system works well for us. Essentially, we never finish milking, the system runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The cows do it themselves and are feeling better for it.”

But even though the milking happens automatically, Michael still has to make sure that everything runs smoothly. For that to happen he says, maintenance is key.

“Just because the cows get milked automatically, doesn’t mean there is no work for me. The system and robots need maintaining and looking after. Maintenance is key to make sure the robots work well. You wouldn’t get on a plane that hasn’t been serviced would you, so this is no different.

“We have also learned that sand bedding doesn’t work with robots because the grains get into all the little spaces and cause problems. So we use sawdust instead, which is renewable and doesn’t break the machines,” he explains. 

The milking cows are fed a TMR (total mixed ration) of grass silage, maize and some blend depending on analysis of the forages to balance the diet. They are also fed a concentrate in the robot depending on the stage of lactation and yield. 

Dry cows are fed a more mature late cut silage which is baled, this is then mixed with straw and the dry cows are housed separately to the main milking herd. Youngstock will all be reared on the farm with beef animals sold as store cattle.   

“The silage for the dairy cows is made using a multicut technique whereby the silage is cut around the 12th May and every 30-32days thereafter through the summer. Around 40acres of maize is grown on the farm and this acreage will probably increase going forward,” Michael explains. 

5 years ago the family looked at their slurry storage and utilization, deciding they needed to be able to time their applications better with the aim of reducing bought in nutrients. 

“Due to our high rainfall, we decided a slurry tower gave us the best solution. All of the yards are covered avoiding any clean rainwater entering the storage. The yards and robot unit all feed into a small reception pit (approx. 150,000 gallons). 

“During the summer this is emptied after each cut of silage and during the winter the reception pit contents are pumped to the tower (600,000 gallons) to store until more favourable weather conditions permit us to apply it to the fields in the spring,” Michael says. 

The system has allowed the family to greatly reduce the amount of bought-in fertilizer with no P&K fertilizer used at all and only targeted Nitrogen applications. Regular soil sampling also allows them to monitor the soil indices and adjust application rates. 

Aware of the proposed slurry regulations which may come into force in  2020, Michael has concerns: “Currently our storage and application rates would meet proposed changes to manure use but we are always looking to improve our situation and covers for the slurry tower and reception pit are being looked at. 

“Any changes to legislation that includes a dated closed period for spreading manures could be problematic, even for us with adequate storage. It is better to be able to apply whilst weather and crop/ground conditions are favorable rather than following a calendar date.”

 

 

The changes implemented over the years, from better slurry management to automated milking mean that the family have a more flexible schedule on the farm. 

“There is no tie at both ends of the day with milking and this is especially seen in the afternoon when jobs would be wound up early to go and fetch cows and milk. I find more time to help with our children before and after school and my father has more time to dedicate to rearing calves. 

“This has also seen improved health and reduced treatments within the calf shed. There are often days when we are busy with silage or simply having a family day off-farm and we know that the robotic unit continues to tick over and cows remain happy and content,” he said.

Brexit fears and farmings pivotal role in keeping economy going highlighted by Tredegar farming family

The implications of a ‘hard Brexit’ and fear of losing free access to the EU’s Single Market, as well as the pivotal role farming families play in keeping the Welsh economy going, were highlighted by the Langford family from Tredegar in a meeting with local AM and former Welsh Agricultural Minister, Alun Davies.

Wayne, his wife Tracy and daughter Emily, farm at Penrhyn Farm, Nantybwch, Tredegar, which is situated 1,100 feet above sea level at the head of the Sirhowy valley.

The typical family farm extends to 140 acres, half-owned, half tenanted, plus hill rights on the Llangynidr Common and is home to 300 Talybont type Welsh Mountain ewes plus followers, which are kept together with 20 Galloway cross Angus Suckler cows.

Wayne regards the Brexit negotiations pivotal to the future of Welsh Hill farms and was keen to highlight the vital role farmers play in preserving the rural economy.

Speaking on farm, 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 products, 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.”

Wayne is particularly concerned about a bad Brexit outcome and highlighted that as an industry, Welsh agriculture is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of losing access to the affluent mainland European markets which are on our doorstep.

“The implications of a ‘hard Brexit’ and losing free access to the EU’s Single Market would be particularly acute for Wales. As a family, we are very concerned about it all and urge the next UK Government to do all it can to ensure that those fears don’t become a reality. 

“Of course these concerns don’t fall into the remit of the Welsh Government but I would urge every politician, whether in Cardiff or Westminster, to work in genuine partnership with the agricultural industry and develop a framework of common principles which underpin further policy development. It really is crucial to ensure the economic and environmental sustainability of family farms, for the sake of all our futures.”

During his visit, the former Minister, who was born close to Penrhyn Farm, emphasised that he realised the vital role that farming plays in preserving the uplands of Wales. 

“I would like to thank Alun Davies for joining us on the farm visit and listening to our member’s concerns. I feel encouraged that he pledged to support innovative ways of maintaining stock on common land in order to preserve the ecological balance, and environmental stability of the commons,” said FUW Gwent CEO Glyn Davies.

Farmers quiz Election hopefuls at Glamorgan hustings

Farmers from the Vale of Glamorgan came together to quiz the general election hopefuls in an agricultural husting event, which was held at the Bear Hotel in Cowbridge. 

The well-attended event, which was hosted in partnership with NFU Cymru, heard from Alun Cairns (Conservative), Belinda Loveluck-Edwards (Labour) and Anthony Slaughter (Green Party), as the candidates outlined their party policies before the floor was opened to questions from the audience.

FUW Glamorgan chairman Richard Walker said: “I would like to thank the candidates who joined us on the night for their contributions and the thought-provoking conversations. 

“It was by no means a single subject discussion and our farming members engaged with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community. 

“Topics including climate change, bovine TB, a second referendum and the current Brexit deal, how Brexit would impact on animal welfare standards and food imports and also the supermarket stronghold on the consumer market and the need for a Grocery Adjudicator with stronger powers. 

“I hope farmers now have a clearer idea of what the parties are offering and feel that they can make an informed decision when they take to the polls on 12 December.”

FUW is fighting agricultural pollution proposals

If current Welsh Government proposals go ahead, from January 1 2020 all registered holdings across Wales, regardless of size, will have to comply with new land management regulations aimed at improving water quality. To all intents and purposes, the proposals mirror the regulations which apply in Wales’ Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, which currently cover just 2.3 per cent of Wales’ landmass. 

While this alone will fill most FUW members with dread, in reality, the full implications and complexity of what is planned can only be understood by considering the full proposals - proposals that the FUW is committed to fight.

Agricultural pollution is a concern for every farmer: A single pollution incident can cause huge harm to wildlife and the environment, while the steady, periodic or combined leaching of pollutants can lead to damaging concentrations of nitrates or other chemicals, resulting in problems such as algal blooms and the contamination of water supplies.

And of course, pollution brings with it financial costs for farm businesses - whether directly, as a result of fines; or a result of the loss of valuable nutrients from soils and other adverse impacts.

Thankfully, the data available for agricultural pollution incidents from January 2010 to February 2018 shows only 1 per cent of farms in Wales to have been recorded as having a substantiated pollution incident, but some of those that have been attributed to farming were catastrophic, adding to existing pressures from members of the public, charities and other bodies to tighten up farming regulations.

Such pressures, which have been exacerbated by unusually wet periods in recent years, come against a background of legislative pressure due to Nitrate Vulnerable Zone and Water Framework Directive legislation. For these reasons, the FUW has worked with others for decades to help address agricultural pollution in a proportionate and targeted way.

In recent years, a large proportion of this work has been through the FUW’s membership of the Welsh Land Management Forum (WLMF), chaired by Natural Resources Wales, and in particular the WLMF agricultural pollution sub-group, which has met monthly over the past two years.

Following a consultation on the expansion of Wales’ Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and a request from Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths, in April 2018 the group submitted a detailed report and 45 recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary.

While work by the group continued, with a particular emphasis on targeting actions in areas where problems are known to exist, it seems that the work of the Welsh Government ground to a halt in terms of considering the recommendations or the results of a programme of NRW farm visits aimed at identifying problems and appropriate solutions: Lesley Griffiths has neither met with the group nor responded to the recommendations.

Rather, the Welsh Government announced in November 2018 that it intends to bring forward legislation for the whole of Wales which is, to all intents and purposes, a cut-and-paste of the NVZ rules - increasing the number of Welsh farm holdings subject to costly and restrictive legislation from an estimated 600 to more than 24,000.

While there are problems that must be addressed, such a move is wholly disproportionate and would undermine efforts to target pollution in those areas where action is needed, while adding huge costs and burdens in vast areas where no problems exist.

The FUW has raised such concerns in writing to Lesley Griffiths, as well as during numerous meetings with the Welsh Government, emphasising that the Government’s decision makes a mockery of their stated commitment to strike “...the right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment” and “...explore further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach.”

Amongst the many concerns raised by the FUW is the fact that the proposals would undermine a number of the elements of the Welsh Government’s proposed public goods scheme by raising the regulatory baseline by an extent that is out of all proportion for most Welsh farmers, taking away numerous options for what is termed ‘additionality’.

As such, the FUW requested a copy of the impact assessment - including in terms of costs for the agricultural industry - undertaken to assess what is in effect an extension of the NVZ area from 2.3 per cent of Wales’ land mass to a whole territory approach, and the legal assessment of how the introduction of the regulations across Wales would impact on the goals of the Well Being of Future Generations Act.

In her response, Lesley Griffiths implied that the Welsh Land Management Forum sub-group - which includes representatives from  Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water and the Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation, as well as other bodies - considers agricultural pollution as a ‘minor issue’. She nevertheless committed to publishing an Integrated Impact Assessment - but only when the relevant Regulations are laid before the Welsh Assembly.

This suggests that the relevant impact assessments are still being worked on, despite a Ministerial decision having apparently already been made, and as with the public goods, this would represent a further departure from the evidence-based decision making which was proclaimed to be a cornerstone of Welsh Government policy making a decade ago.

The FUW takes the need to tackle agricultural pollution extremely seriously, and will continue to fight to ensure this is done in a way which is both proportionate and targeted, and reflects the local and national evidence base.

FUW welcomes BPS announcement but warns system must be developed - not scrapped

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed today’s (Monday, November 25) announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths that 75% of farmers (almost 12,000) will receive their full BPS 2019 payment on day one of the payment window, while businesses that do not receive their full payment, and have applied for the BPS Support scheme, will receive up to 90% of their BPS 2019 claim value.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We understand the Welsh Government has been under pressure due to preparations for Brexit and therefore welcome the fact that despite the challenges 75% of farmers will receive their BPS payment.

“The Minister’s decision to once again implement a loan scheme this year was also very welcome, and we have encouraged all our members to apply, and helped many thousands to do just that.

“I would also urge those farmers who have not applied for the BPS loan yet, to do so before the November 29 deadline,” he added.

Those who have applied for the BPS loan, worth around 90% of their estimated 2019 BPS payment, can expect their money to be with them from 9 December. 

Mr Roberts said that most of the money arriving in farm accounts through the BPS would go out in the coming weeks to other businesses which are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture, such as agricultural suppliers and vets, thereby supporting tens of thousands of Welsh livelihoods and businesses.

The Union President also welcomed the confirmation that the Welsh Government intended to extend the Basic Payment Scheme to 2021 - but warned of the dangers and disruption that could be seen if such direct support was abandoned in the future.

“Abandoning direct support that underpins safe, high-quality food production when our key competitors have no intention of doing the same would damage our economy, environment, landscape, language and culture.

Mr Roberts said that the Welsh Government’s excellent track-record over the past fifteen years of releasing a large percentage of direct payments on the first day of the payment window demonstrated how important it was to develop the current scheme and online system, which he described as second to none compared with others in the UK and EU.

“We have the opportunity to carefully develop the current system into something that delivers so much more without losing its core advantages.

“Changes which result in the loss of the current system, which is the envy of the rest of the UK, and its replacement with complex environmental contracts would be a massive own goal and a step backwards - not to mention immensely damaging for Welsh businesses.”

Pembrokeshire Bingo Night Extravaganza raises over £700 for charity

The Pembrokeshire branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales held a successful bingo evening in aid of the DPJ Foundation, raising over £700 on the night.

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: “A big thank you to everyone who came along to support our recent charity bingo, you helped us raise the fantastic sum of £746.01 for the President’s charity, The DPJ Foundation. A big thank you is also extended to Cuckoo Mill Farm for their continued support.”

Farming Unions and YFC to host General Election hustings for Preseli Pembrokeshire

Both farming unions and the local YFC have come together in Pembrokeshire to ensure that their membership has the opportunity to quiz the prospective parliamentary candidates for the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency at an upcoming General Election hustings. 

The hustings, which will take place on Thursday 28th November at the Wolfscastle Country Hotel at 7.30 pm, will give members the opportunity to hear from the candidates about their respective parties’ policies for agriculture. 

In a joint statement, the organisations noted: “In a period of political uncertainty, where our future trading relationship with the European Union remains unclear, this is an important opportunity for every farmer to quiz their prospective member of parliament on how they view the way forward. 

“With much of the debate centred on national and international issues, these events are also an opportunity for our farming members to engage with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community. 

“We would encourage members of the farming community to take up this opportunity to pose questions to those that seek to represent them in the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency in the next parliament at Westminster.”

Farming Unions host Vale of Glamorgan hustings

Wales’ two farming Unions - NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales -  have come together in the Vale of Glamorgan to ensure that their membership has the opportunity to quiz the general election hopefuls in an agricultural husting event. 

The details for  the events are as follows: 

The Bear Hotel, Cowbridge - Wednesday, 27 November, 7.30 pm

In a joint statement, the organisations noted: “In a period of political uncertainty, where our future trading relationship with the European Union remains unclear, this is an important opportunity for every farmer to quiz their prospective member of parliament on how they view the way forward.

“With much of the debate centred on national and international issues, these events are also an opportunity for our farming members to engage with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community.

“We would encourage members of the farming community to take up this opportunity to pose questions to those that seek to represent them in the next parliament at Westminster.”

Unions join forces to hold hustings in Vale of Clwyd

Wales’ two farming Unions - NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales -  have come together in Denbigh and Flintshire to ensure that their membership has the opportunity to quiz the general election hopefuls in an agricultural husting event. 

The details for the events are as follows: 

Llysfasi College, Lecture theatre, Ruthin Road, Llysfasi, Ruthin LL15 2LB - Monday 9 December at 7.30 pm

In a joint statement, the organisations noted: “In a period of political uncertainty, where our future trading relationship with the European Union remains unclear, this is an important opportunity for every farmer to quiz their prospective member of parliament on how they view the way forward.

“With much of the debate centred on national and international issues, these events are also an opportunity for our farming members to engage with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community.

“We would encourage members of the farming community to take up this opportunity to pose questions to those that seek to represent them in the next parliament at Westminster.”

Farming unions and YFC to host General Election hustings in North West Wales

Both farming unions and the local YFCs have come together in North Wales to ensure that their membership has the opportunity to quiz the general election hopefuls in a series of four agricultural husting events in the area. 

NFU Cymru, the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) and the Young Farmers Federations have worked together to arrange electoral hustings for Ynys Môn, Arfon, Meirionnydd Dwyfor and Aberconwy constituencies, inviting all candidates to participate.

The details of the events are as follows: 

Arfon – Wednesday 27th November at Caeathro Village Hall, Caeathro at 7.30pm; 

Ynys Môn - Tuesday 3rd of December 2019 at 5:30pm at Cartio Môn, Bodedern; 

Aberconwy – Wednesday 4th of December 2019 at 7:30pm at Elwy Room, Glasdir Centre, Llanrwst;

Meirionnydd Dwyfor – Thursday 5th of December 2019 at 7:30pm at Porthmadog Football Club.

More cattle slaughtered in last 5 years in Wales than the reported population of Badgers in Wales, First Minister hears

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts stressed the urgent need for an independent review of the current bovine TB evidence base, with a view to assessing the suitability of current wildlife control measures and to make recommendations on future badger culling policies in Wales, when he met with First Minister Mark Drakeford and Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths.

The special meeting was arranged at the Union’s request and followed a series of meetings with the Minister and officials in recent months looking mainly at the science around TB management.

In setting the scene, the President reminded the First Minister of the human suffering and mental pain that TB caused in farming communities and the frustration that little was being done to successfully address the TB reservoir in wildlife. Statistically, in the last 5 years more cattle have been slaughtered in Wales as a result of TB than the total reported population of Badgers in Wales. 

The focus of the discussion was to gain commitment from the Welsh Government to an innovative approach to managing the scourge of TB as the current management plans were providing limited, if any, success.

“Farmers need hope, hope that this dreadful disease will be dealt with and removed from our landscape,” said Glyn Roberts. 

“To that end we asked the First Minister to consider funding a thoroughly innovative approach that takes best practice from other areas of society facing big challenges.

FUW looks forward to 30th Royal Welsh Winter Fair

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is looking forward to a busy Royal Welsh Winter Fair (Monday 25 - Tuesday 26 November) with plenty of #FarmingMatters chats and a warm welcome to the Union’s stand guaranteed.

Those visiting the FUW stand, which is located next to the main show ring, can enter the annual Christmas hamper competition by filling in a short survey, and staff are on hand to discuss the Union’s response to the Welsh Government ‘Sustainable farming and our Land’ consultation response and the Union’s General Election manifesto. 

Speaking ahead of the event, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Time has flown by and I can hardly believe that the Winter Fair is just around the corner again. 

“This fantastic event should help get everyone in the festive spirit and I look forward to catching up with many of you at the FUW stand over a cup of tea and mince pie. 

“Our staff and officials are on hand to discuss any questions you may have about #FarmingMatters, including Bovine TB rules, future farm policy in Wales and of course the Union’s key asks of the next UK Government. A warm welcome is guaranteed to all.”

 

FUW urges shoppers - support your local businesses this Christmas

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging shoppers to keep their Christmas shopping local to show support for rural and local businesses.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “As we speed towards Christmas, I would like to urge you to think about your rural businesses and see if you can buy local, either for the upcoming Christmas dinner or even gifts for family and friends.

“Speak to your local butcher about meat for the Christmas period and see what your local farm shop has to offer - I promise you will find many of the ingredients you need for your Christmas dinner right on your doorstep. 

“There are also plenty of small shops around that offer Welsh craft and locally designed gifts and of course the choice for local food gifts is aplenty. It really is worth having a look. These are small decisions we can make that will have a big impact on our rural economy.

“A pound spent locally will go much further than a pound spent in a chain store and it keeps our rural economies going. By supporting our local businesses we don’t help a CEO buy a third holiday home but we help a local mum and dad put food on the table, a family pay their mortgage, a little girl get those dance lessons and a little boy get his favourite team shirt.” 

 

Ceredigion farmers get chance to ask critical questions at hustings

Farmers in Ceredigion will get a chance to question local prospective MPs ahead of the General Election at a hustings organised by the Farmers’ Union of Wales and Ceredigion YFC.

The event, which is open to all, is held on Wednesday 4 December at Lampeter Rugby Club starting at 7.30 pm.  

Confirmed candidates include  Ben Lake - Plaid Cymru, Mark Williams- Liberal Democrats, Dinah Mulholland - Labour, Chris Simpson - Green Party Amanda Jenner - Conservatives and Gethin James, Brexit party.

The hustings will be chaired jointly by Morys Ioan, FUW Ceredigion County Chairman, and Endaf Griffiths, Ceredigion Young Farmer of the Year.

Speaking ahead of the event, Morys Ioan said: “This is an excellent opportunity to question the candidates on all #farmingmatters and so much more. It is very important that we make informed decisions when we take to the polls in a few week’s time and I hope many of you will be able to join us.”

 

 

FUW Supports Alternative Method For Ageing Sheep At Slaughter

The Farmers’ Union of Wales’ has welcomed a UK Government consultation which would see an alternative method of ageing sheep at slaughter but warns that further delay to implementation would be unacceptable.

 

The consultation proposes to allow a cut-off date to be used when ageing sheep as an alternative to the current method of ageing by dentition.  In sheep, ageing by dentition is deemed inaccurate as incisors can develop anywhere between 9 months and 15 months of age.   

FUW sets out post-Brexit proposals in Sustainable Farming Consultation response

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has responded to the Welsh Government’s consultation on post-Brexit rural support by proposing a framework and dynamic farm support system that takes full account of all Welsh Wellbeing Goals, National Wellbeing Indicators and other Welsh objectives.

The Welsh Government had proposed in its Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation - the deadline for which was 30 October - that future farm and rural support should be focussed on the United Nations’ definition of ‘Sustainable Land Management’, and that this should be the objective of a future policy.

FUW Caernarfon AGM to discuss future of farming

The Annual General Meeting of the FUW’s Caernarfonshire County Branch will be held at Caernarfon Golf Club, on Wednesday 6 November at 7.30 pm. 

The main topic of the evening will be Sustainable Farming and addressing the issue are Dr Prysor Williams from Bangor University and Nia Williams from Natural Resources Wales.  Also present will be FUW President Glyn Roberts, who will provide an update on the Union’s activity. 

FUW Caernarfon County Chairman Dafydd Williams said: “We look forward to an informative evening, which I’m sure will provide much food for thought. I do hope that many of you can join us.”

The event is sponsored by HSBC and the FUW is looking forward to welcoming Bryn Edmunds on behalf of the bank.

“The meeting will be held in Welsh, but you are more than welcome to bring a friend along with you to the meeting that will be able to translate for you,” added Mr Williams. 

Light refreshments will be served at the end of the meeting. 

If you intend coming to the AGM please contact the county office by Monday 4 November on 01286 672541.  

FUW Deputy President honoured with FUW - United Counties Agricultural & Hunters Society award

 

Newly appointed Farmers’ Union of Wales Deputy President Ian Rickman has been recognised for his services to agriculture in Carmarthen with the Farmers’ Union of Wales - United Counties Agricultural and Hunters Society Award.

 

Vale of Glamorgan dairy champion honoured by FUW for services to agriculture

 

Every year the Farmers’ Union of Wales recognises an individual who has made a great contribution towards the development of the dairy industry and has become an integral part of the dairy industry in Wales.

 

FUW President outlines key concerns for dairy sector ahead of Welsh Dairy Show

 

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).

 

 

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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/