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Farming

#FarmingMatters takes centre stage

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(L-R) FUW President Glyn Roberts, Y Tir Editor Nia Davies-Jones, FUW Managing Director Alan Davies and FUW Press Officer Anne Birkett

THE FARMERS’ Union of Wales’ campaign #FarmingMatters, which set out to demonstrate the key role that farming plays in the wider rural economy and showcase the wider social and cultural importance of farming in Wales with the wider aim of convincing the Welsh Government that it is essential to protect Welsh farming from the potential negative impact of Brexit, has been recognised at the UK Public Affairs Awards as the best campaign in Wales.

For the past 18 months the FUW has been busy highlighting why farming matters and when the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, immediately realised the need to raise awareness of the concerns for farming in Wales, mainly due to Welsh farmers’ strong trading relationship with the EU.

FUW Managing Director Alan Davies said: “I would first of all like to congratulate the staff at the FUW for their fantastic effort, which has resulted in the campaign being recognised as the best in Wales. For us at the FUW it became critical to highlight the potential impact any failed trade negotiations could have on the wider economy and multiple small businesses in the supply chain. The FUW further needed to create awareness, promote understanding and develop knowledge of the farming sector in Wales.

“It was determined that we needed to create an easy to remember message that raised the profile of farming in Wales and the risks to its future and we wanted this to be a phrase that tripped off the tongue.

“As the Union deals with Farming Matters on a daily basis, we saw an opportunity to use the double meaning of these words to highlight our key message. We do work on farming matters, but the truth is: Farming Matters, to so many, in so many other ways. This was seen as a neat play on words leading us to: #FarmingMatters.”

With this in mind the FUW set out to explain why and how farming matters to Members of the National Assembly of Wales and the wider public, with the view of changing attitudes and policies, and creating the understanding that family farms are the cornerstone of our rural economy.

The FUW ensured that the campaign was based on evidence in terms of importance, highlighting that farming is the backbone of the Welsh food and drinks sector, which employs 222,400 people, 17% of the Welsh workforce. The campaign further demonstrated that Welsh family farms do so much more than just produce food – they are the cornerstone of our rural economies and Welsh food production sustains tens of thousands of other businesses from upstream businesses such as feed merchants, agricultural contractors and engineers, to downstream businesses such as hauliers, processors and retailers.

In addition the campaign stressed that for every £100 generated on farm, £60 is spent within 7 miles of the farm, as well as making it clear that by managing of over 80% of Wales’ landmass, farmers play an invaluable part in managing and preserving a landscape which provides clean drinking water for millions, is diverse in habitat and species and includes more than 1,000 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

The FUW, through the #FarmingMatters campaign, communicated that other benefits of Welsh farming include major contributions to negating the causes and symptoms of climate change, whether through the storage of carbon in farm woodland, hedgerows and peat bogs, or the generation of green electricity through on-farm wind and water turbines.

By providing employment and economic growth in rural areas, the farming sector also mitigates rural depopulation, protects rural culture and heritage and keeps the Welsh language alive.

“We needed a multi-channel route to deliver our message and therefore arranged farm visits for Assembly Members across Wales, attended all of the Party Conferences held in Wales including speaking opportunities and conference debates at two, incorporated regular meetings with Ministers, Assembly Committees and Assembly Members, issued targeted news releases and ran a supporting social media campaign. All of this was backed up by regular repetitive and consistent messaging on #FarmingMatters,” said Alan Davies.

The #FarmingMatters campaign resulted in most Assembly Members, including First Minister Carwyn Jones, giving their clear commitment and backing to the Welsh farming industry, adopting our key messages around trade post Brexit, as demonstrated in the ‘Securing Wales’ Future – Transition from the European Union to a new relationship with Europe’ white paper in June 2017, recognising the importance of maintaining farming support after the UK leaves the European Union and backing the FUW’s call for a UK wide agricultural framework that respects devolution.

“There were also some unexpected benefits. Due to the success of the #FarmingMatters campaign we were able to convince a group of Labour politicians, primarily from urban constituencies, to come together at the Welsh Labour party conference in March 2017, to demonstrate support for rural Wales. The group is called “‘Llafur Cefn Gwlad” again a play on words as it means the “labour of rural Wales”. We will continue this campaign over the coming year and hope it will reach many more people, creating even better understanding amongst politicians and the public. ” added Alan Davies.

Farming

2019 ‘a step into the unknown’

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IN HIS New Year Message Kevin Roberts, chair of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has said that never has a year brought such uncertainty, due to the ongoing political deadlock over Brexit.

Mr Roberts emphasised that the red meat industry, which brings £200m a year in export income for Wales and boasts the world-renowned PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef brands, was one of the sectors with most to lose.

WTO Tariffs, which are likely to be levied in the absence of a deal, are 5-10% on many types of goods but on fresh red meat, they range from 40-80%. Independent studies have also identified the sheep sector, which is heavily dependent on exports of its premium-quality produce, as particularly vulnerable to a disruption in European trade.

HCC Chair Kevin Roberts said, “Throughout the past year, I’ve said time and again that the future is fundamentally bright for our industry. We have top-quality produce, brands which are recognised throughout the world, extremely dedicated producers and an industry which pulls in the same direction in promoting high standards in meat quality, welfare and sustainability.

“However, as 2019 dawns we find ourselves standing on a cliff edge,” he said. “Independent reports project a fall of 30% or more in farm-gate prices if there’s a chaotic Brexit, and farmers need certainty in order to invest and continue to develop their businesses.

“HCC is working with Government and others to put contingency plans in place as far as we can,” added Mr Roberts, “but the uncertainty and the range of potential outcomes are so great – just three months before the exit date – that the complexity involved is immense.

“Our industry’s New Year wish is simple; to be able to trade freely and fairly and have some certainty for the future.”

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Farming

NSA hits back at vegan campaign

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THE ARRIVAL of a new year is often a time of optimism, of making plans for the year ahead, but increasingly for livestock farmers, January is now the time producers find themselves arguing a torrent of false claims of crimes against animal welfare, the environment and human health that the media are so quick to promote as part of ‘Veganuary’.

And this year, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is ready to fight back against what it says is ‘a misguided and misleading campaign’.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “Make no doubt about it, behind the positive messages about Veganuary lies a well-coordinated campaign against livestock farming. Our concern is that our unique grass-based method of sheep production in Britain is hidden within more global and general statistics.

“We are seeing criticisms from welfare campaigners, rewilders, climate change campaigners, and health campaigners – but all these are connected and ignore the fact that UK sheep farming works very much in harmony with our environment, our landscapes, and our human ecology – creating a countryside the majority of the public love and producing a food product that is healthy and nutritious within a balanced diet.

“The climate change arguments that have been buoyed by the recent Paris Climate Change Summit ignore the fact that red meat from livestock that is part of a grass-based system is different from that raised in feedlots and in intensive situations. Even more misleading is that the carbon footprinting tools we use do not take account of whole life cycles and ignore the role of grasslands and grazing animals in storing carbon and organic matter in our soils and even in the wool they produce. I would go as far to suggest that ‘organic greenhouse gas cycling’ from grazed livestock should be treated separately from gas emissions derived from fossil fuels.”

NSA says the UK should be seeking to maintain or even increase sheep numbers here in the UK, related to market demand, but further encourage the distribution into areas that are devoid of livestock in order to provide the multi-functional outcomes that people are interested in today.

Mr Stocker concludes: “In the UK sheep are a form of positive and regenerative agriculture which keep our uplands and permanent pastures in good condition and improve our cropping lands in terms of soil quality and the ecological benefits of a return to mixed farming.

“Some people seem hell-bent on portraying sheep as a global enemy, but in fact, they are the ultimate in renewable technology and are an efficient form of productive land management that is planet friendly.”

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Farming

Sheep and goat inventory

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NFU CYMRU is reminding farmers that the 2019 Annual Sheep and Goat Inventory forms must be returned by February 1.

The form is a legal requirement and must be returned by no later than Friday, February 1, to avoid an increased risk of being selected for an inspection. The form should include the number of sheep and goats of which the farmer is the registered keeper, by CPH location, on January 1, 2019. Farmers must also record the number of sheep and goats on January 1 in their on-farm flock record to avoid a potential cross-compliance penalty.

Sheep and goat keepers have the option of completing the form online via www.eidcymru.org. However, keepers must have registered to EIDCymru prior to submitting the online inventory return. If you are completing the form electronically, you do not need to return the paper form

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