Agricultural Policy

New Brexit proposal still leaves Wales ‘out in the cold’ says FUW

 

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.
 
Even if the EU accepts the offer in spite of the Good Friday agreement, it makes no difference to the FUW’s core concerns regarding the impact on Welsh agriculture and the Welsh economy.  The Union remains 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.
 
Trying to address valid Northern Irish concerns should not be perceived as a ‘new deal’ for the UK as a whole.   Indeed, this 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 FUW believes that the most sensible option would be for the whole of the UK to stay within the single market and the customs union.
 
Since January the FUW has advocated withdrawing Article 50 in order to return to a sensible negotiation timetable and put the ball back in our court so we can negotiate a sensible Brexit deal.
 
But there is also the option the Union has advocated since the June 2016 Referendum, which is supported by the EU, which is to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union to minimise what even the Government’s own analyses say would be severe economic impacts.  This would respect the referendum outcome while preventing damage to our economy and rural communities.

 
 

Consultations Pending

i) Welsh Government - Our Ambition to Further Develop Wales’ Food and Drink Sector

Welsh Government are seeking responses to the Welsh Government and the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board’s joint proposals for a strategic plan to further advance the food and drink sector in Wales for the period 2020-2026.

For further information please follow click here.  The consultation closes on the 15th October 2019.

ii) Food Standards Agency - Home Slaughter of Livestock Guidance

The Food Standards Agency have updated the Home Slaughter of Livestock guidance for England and Wales to reflect the changes to regulations.

Under the revised Animal Welfare Regulations, the home killing of an animal and any related operations shall only be carried out by persons with the appropriate level of competence to do so without causing the animals any pain, distress or suffering; on behalf of the owner, at the owner’s property, for domestic consumption.

For further information please follow click here.  The consultation closes on the 28th October 2019.


iii) Sustainable Farming and our Land
The Welsh Government has announced the launch of a second consultation on the future of farm payments in Wales which follows on from the 2018 ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation.

See here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 30th October 2019.

iv) Animal Exhibits
Animal Exhibits (AEs) are diverse and there is no current licensing regime or requirements for routine inspections, therefore animal welfare standards are not guaranteed. In addition, the Performing Animals Act 1925 requires performing animals to be registered with Local Authorities which currently have no end date, nor does the Act define what is meant by a ‘performing animal’.

Following a 2017 consultation, the decision was made in April 2019 to include all AEs which meet a given criteria. Lesley Griffiths, Minister, also laid out a proposed Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly in July 2019 which proposes to make it an offence for a wild animal to be used in a travelling circus.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Animal Exhibits) (Wales) Regulations 2020 will introduce a requirement for AEs which meet a given criteria to be licensed by their Local Authority. The scheme will provide for checks to be made to ensure good welfare standards are maintained and that animals are exhibited in a way that encourages respectful and responsible attitudes towards all species.

The consultation outlines that (a) Keeping animals primarily for dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping and (c) Keeping or training animals for sporting purposes would be exempt from requiring a licence (as well as other categories).

Please follow click here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 21st November 2019.

(v) Ageing Of Sheep At Slaughter
Welsh Government, DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are seeking views on the proposal to change English and Welsh legislation for ageing sheep at slaughter for the removal of certain body parts.

Currently, Specified Risk Material (SRM) is removed from sheep over 12 months of age as declared through dentition (checking teeth) for preventing Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) in the interest of public health.

Instead, the consultation proposes an (optional) alternative method for the ageing of sheep at slaughter:  Sheep born in the previous calendar year and submitted for slaughter in the calendar year following their birth after an annual cut-off date of 30 June must be considered as aged over 12 months and therefore would require the removal of the spinal cord as SRM.  Sheep born in the previous calendar year and submitted for slaughter in the calendar year following their birth before an annual cut-off date of 30 June would be considered as aged under 12 months and would not require removal of the spinal cord as SRM.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have confirmed that this approach would not compromise existing food safety.  It is proposed that the new approach would allow farmers to adjust their flock management and minimize the splitting of lambs aged under 12 months.  It is estimated that this could result in indirect savings of up to £24 million a year for the industry.

Please follow click here for the consultation document.  Responses by 31st October 2019.

Reminder of Cymorth TB Support & Advice

Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding its members of the free veterinary support and advice available through the Cymorth TB programme.  The programme is managed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and delivered through two Welsh veterinary delivery partners across Wales.  Those wishing to take part will be sent a voucher by APHA.
 
To make the support easier to access, visits by trained private vets have been, or will be, automatically scheduled for applicable herds; although cattle keepers may choose to opt-out if they wish.  The vets will provide support for disease management and advice on the risks associated with TB.
 
Private vets who wish to take part in the programme must complete a training module which has been accredited by Harper Adams University and is available online.
 
In addition, cattle keepers in the Intermediate TB Area North (ITBAN) can access free Cymorth TB style advice for keeping TB out following a clear contiguous TB test.
 
Please speak to your local veterinary practice for more.

Farming Connect November Skills and Training Application Window

The next skills funding application window is now open for up to 80% subsidised training and will close on Friday 1st November 2019.  There are 3 steps to applying:
1) Register with Farming Connect before 28th October to gain access to the Business Wales website.
2) Complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) on the Business Wales website to help identify which courses are available and most suitable for improving your skills.  Completing a PDP and submitting an application form is mandatory. There will be events and workshops throughout Wales to help with the process.
3) Apply for the desired training course(s) during the application window.  The applications will be assessed at the end of the application window and applicants will be notified by email.  You must then complete the course(s) within 9 months.


Click here for more information on the courses available and PDP workshop dates.

Be Mindful Of Grass Burning Regulations To Avoid Fines

FUW members are being reminded to follow the Heather and Grass Burning Code to avoid damage to the environment, hefty fines of up to £1,000 and cross compliance penalties. 
 
The burning of heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse and Vaccinium (bilberry) is only allowed between 1 October - 31 March in upland areas (land in the Severely Disadvantaged Area of the Less Favoured Area) and 1 November - 15 March elsewhere.
 
It is possible to carry out controlled burns at other times but only under a licence that may be obtained in very specific circumstances.  The Heather and Grass Burning Code asks farmers to prepare thoroughly before any burning is undertaken as well as plan and consult well in advance of the burning season. 
 
Those planning a controlled burn need to contact the local Fire and Rescue Service, consult and co-operate with neighbours, especially woodland owners, to establish or confirm a burning programme for the year and those on common land are advised to consult fellow Commoners and the local Commoners’ Association if applicable.
 
Carefully planned and controlled burning is beneficial for agriculture, wildlife conservation and the wider environment if it is carried out in the correct manner.  However, using burning as a management tool with a poor understanding can be equally damaging to the environment.
 
For further information and guidance on the Heather and Grass Burning Code, see here.