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Farming

Producers and processors should work together

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Uncertain times for dairy industry: NFU

A COLLABORATIVE, trusting and transparent relationship between dairy processors and producers in Wales is more important than ever before in light of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

That is the message from NFU Cymru at the Welsh Dairy Show in Nantyci, Carmarthen.

With milk prices on the rise, there’s no doubt that this year’s Welsh Dairy Show will see milk producers in a more upbeat mood than they were 12 months ago. However, with Brexit drawing closer and the open-sided nature of many milk contracts skewed towards the processor, these are still uncertain times for the dairy industry in Wales.

NFU Cymru Milk Board Chairman Aled Jones said: “With Brexit looming large on the horizon, now is the time for milk producers to take stock and look at their relationship with their milk purchaser.

“The introduction of Dairy Producer Organisations (DPOs) is something that NFU Cymru has supported for a long time now, and we believe that advocating the right producer representation could pave the way for producer organisations here in Wales, where appropriate. Presently most of us deal on an individual basis with our processors but, long-term, I think that we are far stronger if we speak as one voice. For some, DPOs could bring longer-term contracts providing better security – we are already seeing five-year contracts in place in Ireland.

“I would also urge all buyers to provide options in their contracts to help producers manage milk price risk. I would like to see more opportunity for forward contracts for all or part of annual milk production to protect against volatility and provide certainty on price and volume for both producer and processor. There is also an opportunity for the futures market as a price smoothing mechanism. It is encouraging that some dairy companies have started on these routes but we need more to do so.

“For this to work, we need improved transparency and accurate up-to-date milk price reporting mechanisms. We require the support of Government to put a mandatory mechanism in place covering both milk price and volumes.”

Mr Jones will also use the Welsh Dairy Show to talk about the wider challenges and opportunities facing the industry as a result of the UK’s impending departure from the EU.

“We are not clear yet what Brexit will bring, but on trade, there is a huge opportunity to displace imports and expand exports. That will, however, require a step change from the current situation and an increased focus on added value processing here in Wales and across the UK. I would dearly wish to see investment in more processing capacity for added value in the milk fields of Wales.

“Despite the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit, there are opportunities for the Welsh dairy sector. I believe that our climate and rainfall will increasingly make us a favoured area for milk production as climate change impacts on global production systems. To grasp these opportunities we need to see close cooperation and improved collaboration across the supply chain and contracts in place that help give producers greater certainty, clarity and security over milk price.

“Our Governments in Cardiff and Westminster also have a crucial role to play in making sure we have continued access to export markets and the right policy framework to support a productive, progressive and profitable dairy industry in Wales.”

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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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