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Farming

Union meets new Agri-Commissioner

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NFU CYMRU President Stephen James used the opportunity to brief Phil Hogan on the importance of food and farming to the economy of Wales. They also discussed the EU agriculture policies that have most impact on farming businesses in Wales at this time, namely CAP implementation, dairy support and sheep EID rules.

On CAP Stephen James said: “All sectors of agriculture in Wales have suffered at different times over the past 12 months from significant price volatility; this has once again highlighted the importance of direct payments to secure the production of adequate supplies of food produced to the highest food quality and animal welfare standards. However the current reform has added additional complexity to what was already an overly bureaucratic system. We are pleased that the Commissioner told us he has CAP simplification as one of his key priorities. We discussed a number of areas where we felt change was needed; this included a light touch to Greening in 2015, given that the Commission was so late in providing the detailed guidance on how these new rules are to be implemented. We discussed mapping issues asking for a pragmatic approach to dealing with deductions for trees and other features in land parcels where agricultural production takes place.”

On Rural Development NFU Cymru highlighted to Mr Hogan that the Welsh Government was unique in having decided to make use of the maximum allowable 15% pillar transfer from 2014. Mr James said: “Our priority is to ensure that farmers have the opportunity to recover this funding lost from direct payments through the new Wales RDP. At present this is being delayed while the Welsh Government await approval of the Wales RDP from the Commission. We asked the Commissioner to do all he could to expedite this process to ensure that the new RDP could be used at the earliest opportunity to support farmers and the rural economy of Wales.”

NFU Cymru used the meeting to raise with the Commissioner the need for increased support from the Commission to support the dairy industry through the current milk price crisis.

Stephen James said: “We pressed Mr Hogan to urgently review the current EU ‘safety net’ mechanisms that are meant to support farmers in the face of extreme price cuts. The current intervention price is set so low as to be irrelevant even at this time. With the majority of Welsh milk processed into cheese and other commodity products our farmers are extremely exposed to global markets, intervention should be used at this time to bring some much needed stability to the sector.”

Sheep EID and individual recording was also a matter that NFU Cymru brought to the attention of the Commissioner with John Davies, NFU Cymru Deputy President, stressing the need for a level of tolerance in the inspection regime. John Davies said: “We are five years on from the introduction of this unpopular regulation, but despite the best efforts of farmers, livestock markets and abattoirs it has not proved possible to ensure 100% read rates 100% of the time. We asked the Commissioner to look once again at the issue of tolerances and for the Commission to come forward with proportionate guidance that takes account of the fact that technology can never be expected to work with the accuracy required by the regulation.”

Concluding Mr James said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to highlight to the man responsible for driving the agricultural agenda across Europe the challenges and opportunities that Welsh agriculture faces at this time. I found the meeting positive and constructive and we will follow up with many of the issues discussed today with further meetings with Mr Hogan and his officials in the near future through our team in Brussels.”

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Farming

Appeal for dog walkers to keep pets under control during lambing season

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THE LAMBING season is upon us and with many public paths crossing fields of sheep, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is appealing to dog walkers to follow best practice when out in the countryside.

While walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and other public footpaths and bridleways:

Always keep dogs on a short lead and under close control when sheep or any other livestock are present.
Clean up after your dog; bag it and bin it wherever you can or take it away –please do not leave poo bags in the countryside.

National Park Authority Public Rights of Way Officer, Meurig Nicholas said: “If your dog is out of your sight or left out of control, it may chase after, attack or worry sheep. Worried and stressed pregnant sheep can miscarry or abort their lambs.

“Young lambs are also very vulnerable at this time, and can get distressed and even die if they are separated from their mothers or abandoned after being chased by dogs.”

There have also been incidents where dogs have had to be rescued from cliffs because they were not kept under close control.

Mr Nicholas added: “These situations have resulted in emergency services such as the Coastguard and RNLI having to retrieve and rescue dogs. These incidents are avoidable and add unnecessary pressure to our busy emergency services.”

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Farming

Plan for ‘collaborative approach’ to tackling rural crime issues

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THIS week (Mar 9) Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a strategic meeting with key stakeholders to identify collaborative opportunities to tackle rural and wildlife crime in the Dyfed-Powys area.

Following a meeting with the Farming Unions in Wales earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn is keen to establish a Strategic Partnership Working Group with key stakeholders that will aim to identify ways of working collaboratively to tackle some of the rural and wildlife crime issues in Dyfed-Powys.

Dyfed-Powys Police have recently appointed a Sergeant for the Rural Crime Team, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been keen to consult with key stakeholders to gain an input from partners to support the development of a new Rural Crime Strategy for the Force.

Key Stakeholders that were invited to be part of the strategic group include both NFU Cymru and FUW unions, as well as local authorities, National Parks, RSPCA and many others.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I had positive discussions with representatives from both unions earlier this year to highlight some of the rural crime issues in the Dyfed-Powys area.

“One of the priorities identified was the need to take a collaborative approach to tackling rural and wildlife Crime, and the meeting with several key partners today was an opportunity to develop discussions and ideas further”.

Earlier in March, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn published a Rural Crime bulletin, which highlights some of the work that has taken place recently in the Dyfed-Powys area, and cross border collaborative initiatives.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn noted that this multi agency partnership will aim to build on some of the great work that is already happening, and said;  “This meeting today comes a year on from the successful St. David’s Day Conference focusing on Rural Crime that I held at Police Headquarters last year. The last 12 months have been like no other but sadly crime and incidents affecting the rural community have continued.

“Today’s multiagency Strategic meeting was an opportunity to present the new Sergeant for the specialist team, and to discuss a new website that we are developing in partnership with North Wales Police to provide key crime prevention messages to the agricultural industry – the Future Farms Cymru initiative.

“I’m grateful to all partners who attended the meeting today, and I now look forward to take all comments on board as we look to re-energise and refocus the work of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team.”

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Farming

NFU Cymru ‘responds robustly’ to WG

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NFU CYMRU has said that many proposals within the Welsh Government and Defra’s Welfare in Transport consultation will cause significant disruption to livestock transportation in the UK.

In a robust response to the joint Welsh Government / Defra consultation, the union has stressed the significant impact the proposals would have on the livestock and poultry sectors, and raised concerns that if the proposals are implemented, they will fail to deliver any meaningful benefit to animals’ welfare.

Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said: “In order to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the main priorities should be the animal’s fitness to travel, loading and unloading, driver training and experience, rather than the length of the journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.

“We firmly believe that the current regulations for domestic transport already deliver high welfare, as a result of the standards, cleanliness and adaptability to different weather conditions of transport boxes in the UK. But as an industry, we want to strive for even better. We believe that in order to do that there should be more focus on certified training and providing clearer, sector-specific guidance, particularly during loading and unloading rather than what is proposed in the consultation. Good welfare and healthy livestock go hand in hand; safe arrival at a destination, be that at market or abattoir, must be and is a priority.

“The transporting of livestock is an integral part of UK food production. The suggested changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes, while changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs. It will also lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which work against both farming’s and the government’s net-zero targets.

“Turning to the part of the consultation on live exports, we have inputted our views into a proposed NFU assurance scheme, which is detailed in an appendix in the response. This would be extremely effective in delivering welfare outcomes at the same time as maintaining this trade, as assessing the animals’ health and reporting back to producers is a fundamental part of the scheme.”

Richard Williams, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Poultry Group said: “Looking at the month of January for example, over the last three years on average there were 10 days where temperatures were five degrees or less. If the proposals were implemented to stop transport at this temperature, no broilers could be collected off-farm in those days. If we had a prolonged cold snap; this would have a massive effect on the food chain.

“With any policy developments government makes, it is essential they are based on the latest evidence.  We have an industry to be proud of, with world-leading standards, and that includes our current transportation requirements for all farmed livestock.”

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