The Farmers’ Union of Wales is seeking urgent clarity on the reasons behind the decision by Tomlinson’s Dairies to close its doors and refuse milk.
This shock decision came in with almost immediate effect and has left many dairy producers in Wales scrambling to find another processor for their milk.
FUW Vice President Eifion Huws said: “We are extremely concerned for our members who are affected and who have contacted us. We had no prior warning and are extremely disappointed that farmers are left in a predicament where they have no one to collect their milk.
“If the speculation is true, and we have lost yet another major processor in Wales, this will come as a severe blow to farmers, workers and the industry as a whole at a time when significant efforts are being made to bolster and build on our unique Welsh brand.”
The end of beef processing at Llanidloes has been described as another blow for the industry by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
Speaking from his North Wales farm, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We completely understand the economic reasons for stopping the beef processing by Randall Parker Foods at the Llanidloes site. However, it is bad news for our farmers.
The failure by the UK Government to increase the tariff rates which would apply for imports of agricultural products from the rest of the world in the event of a no-deal Brexit has been described by the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) as an ‘own goal’ in terms of the UK’s negotiating position and a further failure to protect Welsh and UK farmers against low quality imports.
Those wanting to help the environment and lead a more sustainable, plastic-free life, are being encouraged to embrace wool by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
Speaking ahead of Wool Week 2019 ( 07 - 20 October), which aims to highlight wool’s natural performance qualities and ecological benefits, FUW Vice President Ian Rickman said: “Every year our sheep will produce a new fleece and they will do so as long as there is grass for them to graze on, making wool an excellent renewable fibre source.
“That is especially true if compared to synthetic fibres, which require oil and refineries and are a non-renewable resource for man-made fibre production.”
Ian added that sheep farmers actively work to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency in livestock production. The pull on natural resources and reductions required in the use of fossil fuels he says, means that consumers will have to look at their longer-term choices.
“We feed the nation with sustainable and well cared for lamb and take our responsibility to look after the environment seriously. We share concerns about plastic and micro-fiber pollution in our oceans and soil, as well as pollution from fossil fuels.
“Fabrics such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibres are all forms of plastic and makeup about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide.
Ahead of World Mental Health Day (Thursday, 10 October), the Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding farmers that help is available to them if they are suffering from poor mental health, or feeling suicidal.
World Mental Health Day is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health and this year’s Day is supported by WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health.
Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Indeed, there are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting to take their own life.
Speaking from his farm in North Wales, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “These are difficult times we live in. Many farmers and those living in rural communities often find themselves working alone for most of the day or feel isolated. There are so many uncertainties, stresses, and worries, putting pressure on us that might leave us feeling that we can no longer cope.
“And as much as we encourage those not feeling so good to speak up and seek help, sometimes they feel they can’t. Sometimes the last thing they want to do is talk about the things that have them feeling the way they do.
“That’s why it’s important that we come together as a community, family, and friends. Suicides and suicide attempts affect us all in some way. But it is preventable.
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.