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 Stateunderlining 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.