The Anglesey branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales enjoyed a busy two-day county show (Tuesday 13 August - Wednesday 14 August), with #FarmingMatters chats, children's competitions and plenty of entertainment keeping visitors to the stand entertained.
Members raised specific farming matters with Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and Llyr Huws Gruffydd AM at an open surgery, with a strong focus on the current Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation.
Those concerned about rural crime stopped by for advice on how to keep their property and livestock safe, with ‘Quad Claw’ and Arfon Jones North Wales Police, Police and Crime Commissioner and the North Wales rural crime team on hand to help.
Speaking after the event, FUW Vice President Eifion Huws said: “This year’s show was fantastic once again and I thank the organisers and everyone who joined us for making it such a success.
“Farming is facing an uncertain future for so many reasons and we raised some of our concerns with our politicians at the show. Because the UK Government is determined to take the UK out of the EU at the end of October, deal or no deal, members feel that they haven’t got enough time to fully consider what is being proposed in the Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation.
Farmers from Denbighshire and Flintshire have raised concerns about the timing of the Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation with politicians, including Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, at the local county show (Thursday 15 August).
FUW Denbigh and Flint CEO Mari Dafydd Jones highlighted that the Farmers’ Union of Wales has raised concerns since early July regarding the clash between the response deadline (30 October) and the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU (31 October).
She said: “The FUW has welcomed a Welsh Government commitment to keep the deadline under review, however, given the UK Government’s determination to take the UK out of the EU at the end of October, deal or no deal, our members now believe it is imperative that the deadline be extended.”
Speaking at the show after a meeting with Mrs Griffiths, FUW Denbighshire county chairman Dylan Roberts said: "Members here in Denbighshire share the Welsh Government's concerns regarding the impacts of a no-deal Brexit and welcome the commitment to supporting agriculture.
Farmers are being urged to remember hedge cutting regulations to avoid a cross compliance penalty on their BPS payment.
FUW policy officer Bernard Griffiths said: “Most farmers will remember that they are not allowed to cut trees or hedges between 1 March to 31 August. If they don’t comply with the rules, they could face a hefty cross compliance penalty on their BPS payment which is avoidable.
“There are exceptions to the standard rule, but only if the conditions are met can farmers start cutting early. We therefore urge our members to make sure they don’t fall foul by accident.”
Only on arable land, where the normal agricultural practice requires that a winter arable crop is planted before 31 August, are farmers able to cut back the relevant hedges or trees from 1 August.
That exception only applies as long as nesting birds are not disturbed.
“So before you start cutting the hedge you have to check thoroughly to ensure that you will not disturb any breeding or rearing bird,” added Mr Griffiths.
News that the existing Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment window of 2 December 2019 until 30 June 2020 will be maintained, and a BPS Loan Scheme for farmers who don’t receive their first payment on that date will be provided, has been welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
The loan for farmers who do not receive their BPS payment will be worth up to 90% of the claim value. However, while the support scheme will be available to all, it will only be paid to farm businesses who ‘opt-in’ to the scheme, and only if their BPS claim is not ready on the first day of the payment window.
Responding to the announcement, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “This provides much needed certainty for our farmers who are increasingly concerned about cash flow in the upcoming months as we approach our exit from the European Union and the winter period.”
With just three months to go until the UK is expected to leave the European Union - with or without a deal - farmers across the country are getting increasingly concerned about their future as food producers.
But it’s not just Brexit that has them worried. Untimely changes to farming policies, which would make life on farm more difficult and introduce more burdensome regulations, also add to their woes.
Livestock farmers Cheryl and Jeff James of Cefn Eithin Farm, Clydach, Swansea, are concerned about the new agricultural pollution regulations due to be introduced in January 2020 as they will adversely affect their farm.
The couple who farm suckler cattle and sheep over 345 acres of owned land, fear that unless the introduction of pan-Wales land management regulations are opposed, the impact on farm businesses like theirs would be significant.
Under the new regulations the James’ would not be able to spread slurry according to the weather and ground conditions and would be restricted by calendar dates stipulated in the closed period under the new regulations. This they say, will incur extra feed costs for the livestock as grass growth would be affected .
And when it comes to extra slurry storage to comply with yet more burdensome rules, the family feel they would not be able to justify or afford the investment for all the required storage equipment on the farm.
“What this means for us is that rearing suckler cows will become unaffordable. Welsh Government should be supporting this type of farming. Suckler herds are a really natural way to rear cattle – the calves spend 10 months with their mother at the farm and then two years on the grassland with no routine antibiotic or hormone treatments. What we produce is natural Welsh beef and these regulations will only push the intensive beef farming systems that we don’t want to see,” added Jeff James.
Farmers’ Union of Wales officials have raised concerns about the timing of the Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation with politicians, including First Minister Mark Drakeford and Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, at Pembrokeshire Show (Tuesday 13 August).
Having raised concerns since early July regarding the clash between the response deadline (30 October) and the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU (31 October), the FUW had already welcomed a Welsh Government commitment to keep the deadline under review.
However, given the UK Government’s determination to take the UK out of the EU at the end of October, deal or no deal, the Union now believes it is imperative that the deadline be extended.