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Farming

Longest strawberry season ever

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strawberriesBRITISH growers have announced that this year’s strawberry crop has broken records, with a staggering 60,170 tonnes already produced – an increase of eight percent since 2013 – and still more to come. The season kicked off in March, seven weeks earlier than last year, as a result of the unexpectedly mild winter. Growers are still producing the quintessentially British fruit and expect the season to continue into December. British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents 98 % of berries sold in supermarkets, have stated that the industry is reaping the benefits of years of innovation and new technology.

Seen as a remarkable success story of the British produce industry, the season lasted for just six weeks 25 years ago and had a market share of around 10%. This year’s record crop will have run for around 38 weeks by the end of the season – more than two thirds of the year. British growers benefited from a 98% market share at the peak of the season, a result of the successful replacement of imports. The success of the industry can be largely attributed to the introduction of new varieties and increased acreage through successful growing. The introduction of polytunnels in 1993 has also helped produce a reliable crop which before was open to the whims of the unpredictable British weather.

Consumers have benefited from ideal growing conditions throughout the year. Good levels of sunshine, low humidity, warm temperatures and cooler nights have resulted in a vintage crop. Another recent development that is transforming the industry is the use, by soft fruit growers, of glasshouses which were originally built for crops such as salads and flowers. Glasshouses provide a controlled environment allowing berries to benefit from constant temperatures and humidity at the beginning and end of the season. Laurence Olins, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, said: “We have produced the biggest UK crop of the nation’s favourite berry this year.

Due to the industry’s investment in new varieties, increased planting and the growing use of glasshouses, we have been able to meet a growing demand from consumers, who have enjoyed a huge 60,170 tonnes of strawberries.” Anthony Snell, who runs AJ & CI Snell farm with his wife Christine in Herefordshire, said: “Thanks to the fantastic growing conditions that we’ve seen throughout the year, we have been able to provide flavoursome, sweet strawberries starting in spring and continuing all the way into midautumn. We use polytunnels to protect our crops and this crucially meant that the crop and soil were protected throughout the season, so they could grow naturally without any damage.”

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Farming

Government won’t be able to blame Brussels

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BREXIT could have British farmers reap the benefits of international trade thanks to a leading British product, National Farmers Union vice-president Stuart Roberts suggested.

Brexit could help British farmers take on a leading role on the world stage thanks to great dairy and meat products created in the country, according to Mr Roberts. Asked whether leaving the EU could benefit the farming industry, the National Farming Union (NFU) vice-president insisted Brexit will offer the UK more freedom to trade with the rest of the world.

Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Roberts said: “There are several benefits. If we talk about trade, there are certain parts of the world where I think we can have some real positive trade deals.

“Our dairy products, for example, are ones that we can lead the world on, we can add value to.
“When you look at our sustainable meat production in this country, people are crying out for this around the world. I think there are some opportunities in trade.”

The NFU vice-president also suggested leaving the European Union will grant the UK to have full control over farming regulations in the future.

Mr Roberts also said Brexit will force British politicians to be more “accountable” for the decisions they will take in the coming years.

He continued: “There are also opportunities in terms of the regulatory environment.
“We are now, at least, in a position where the politicians in this country will make the decisions and be responsible for it.

“They can’t blame someone else, they can’t pass the buck. In every aspect of society, probably for all of us, it was convenient to blame Brussels for things.

“Going forward people are going to have to be more accountable.”

The UK will no longer abide by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at the end of the transition period scheduled to conclude on December 31, 2020.

in December 2019, former Chancellor Sajid Javid announced farmers could enter the new year with confidence that they will be able to “thrive” after Brexit after he confirmed just under £3 billion of funding for 2020.
The cash – to be spread over two years – will be used to support farmers once all Brexit phases have concluded and the CAP direct payments scheme ends next year.

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Farming

Young hill farmer stars in £250,000 campaign

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AN ACCOMPLISHED young farmer from the Ceiriog valley is starring in a nation-wide campaign promoting PGI Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Caryl Hughes, who farms in partnership with her family near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, features in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s latest campaign.

The £250,000 campaign was announced in November 2019 by HCC Chair Kevin Roberts at the annual HCC Conference and will focus on Welsh red meat’s sustainable qualities. The campaign will include radio and tv advertising, on-demand tv advertising, print advertising and media partnerships. It will also feature core messages around Wales’ sustainable red meat production focusing on elements such as – landscape, climate and water usage.

The television advert sees Caryl at home on her farm in Ceiriog valley and displays the dramatic landscapes and natural surroundings where Caryl rears her own flock.

Caryl is a familiar face within Welsh agriculture; having previously held the role of National Sheep Association Young Ambassador and Montgomery YFC Chair.

Caryl has a degree in Agriculture from Aberystwyth University and, notably, was the first person to undertake the Llyndy Isaf Scholarship with the National Trust – where she managed a Snowdonia hill farm for a year combining sustainable farming practices with managing the outstanding natural environment.

Having also competed on S4C’s Fferm Factor, Caryl is also someone comfortable both on film and in the field.
Commenting on the campaign, Caryl said ‘Like most Welsh sheep and beef farmers, I am very proud of our industry, the food we produce and how we produce it. I’m very pleased to be involved in this campaign promoting exactly that.’

HCC’s Market Development Manager Rhys Llywelyn commented ‘We wanted the real, authentic voices of Welsh farming to star in this campaign to show the real picture of Welsh red meat production.’

‘Caryl’s knowledge, passion and experience are undeniable and she is a very credible ambassador for our industry and produce. We’re sure viewers and consumers at home will find Caryl very relatable and engaging in this advert’
HCC’s new campaign launched on Thursday, February 13, and can be seen and heard on on-demand television platforms and radio stations throughout England and Wales.

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Farming

FUW reminds members about SAF

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IT’s that time of year again when we start thinking about Single Application Forms (SAF).

The application window opens on Monday, March 2, and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding its members that county staff are here to help and ready to take the stress of filling the form away from you.

The FUW provides this service exclusively to all paid-up members as part of their membership package, which has proved invaluable for thousands of members over the years – saving them time and a paperwork-headache.

FUW Membership and Operations Manager Caryl Roberts said: “The SAF completion process is probably the single most important form completion exercise being carried out by Welsh farmers since 2004, and the financial repercussions of errors on the forms are severe.

“Our staff are not only well trained but very well practised in dealing with the complex application process.”
Since the Welsh Government mandated that all applications should be done online, the FUW is focused on providing the best possible service to its members.

“I encourage our members and first-time form fillers to contact their local office as soon as possible to book an appointment if they need help in filling out the form,” added Caryl Roberts.

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