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NFU-Cymru President’s New Year Message



Stephen James: NFU Cymru President

I AM pleased that we end 2017 on a positive note, with UK and EU leaders agreeing to move on to Phase 2 of the UK Exit negotiations.

This phase, in which the transition deal and our future trading relationship with the EU is negotiated, is absolutely critical to the future prosperity of the food and farming sector in Wales.

I cannot stress highly enough the importance of maintaining continued free and frictionless access to our largest and most proximate market. We hear both UK and EU negotiators repeatedly use the words ‘clarity’ and ‘certainty’, and as farming businesses that is exactly what we want to see early in 2018 – clarity and certainty over the type of trading environment that we will be operating under come the end of March 2019.

In our view this should mean the UK remaining in the Customs Union until such time as a comprehensive free trade agreement can be agreed between the UK and EU.

I remain optimistic at the opportunity Brexit provides to develop, design and implement new policies that support our vision for a productive, progressive and profitable industry in Wales. This will ensure Welsh farming can continue to contribute to, and enhance, the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of Wales.

The speed of change to implement a new agricultural policy should be determined by our future relationship with the EU. Throughout this evolution to a new domestic agricultural policy, and thereafter, governments in Cardiff and Westminster must maintain current levels of investment in farming to ensure that Welsh farmers remain competitive whilst continuing to produce food to the highest standards.

The Nitrates Review and proposals to increase the areas of Wales designated as Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) has been very high on our lobbying agenda for over two years now. I am pleased that Lesley Griffiths AM, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, has recently announced her intention to work with stakeholders to explore further options to safeguarding water quality in Wales. This means that no new NVZ designations will be introduced at this point in time – a huge relief to many farmers across Wales who have been highly concerned about the costs and burden of NVZ regulations.

I am very clear, however, that regulatory pressure still remains and the group charged with taking this task forward (the NRW Wales Land Management Forum Agri-Pollution Sub Group) will, over the coming months, consider the right balance of regulatory measures, voluntary initiatives and investment. As farmers, we recognise the role we have to play in contributing to further and sustained improvements in water quality in the years ahead and NFU Cymru remains fully committed to working with Welsh Government, the Regulator and other partners to deliver workable (non-regulatory) solutions.

The scale of this challenge must not be underestimated and I want to ensure that NFU Cymru has a robust structure in place to drive this forward. It is, therefore, my intention to establish an NFU Cymru Water Quality Task & Finish Group. The group will consist of members from across Wales, across all sectors and the wider supply chain, with the aim of shaping the NFU Cymru contribution to the work of the NRW Agri-Pollution Sub-Group and also working to secure the ‘buy-in’ and commitment of the wider farming community to a non-regulatory approach.

Last June the Cabinet Secretary announced a new TB programme for Wales, a programme that we see as a step forward given the recognition by Welsh Government of the transmission link between cattle and wildlife.

Bovine TB continues to be the subject that causes most frustration amongst our membership. The latest statistics show a year on year increase in herd incidence and herd prevalence in Wales and over 9,700 cattle slaughtered because of TB, so it is clear why cattle keepers believe this to be the biggest immediate threat to their farming businesses.

I am pleased that on these two vitally important issues to the agricultural sector in Wales in 2017 the Cabinet Secretary has made policy decisions based on scientific evidence. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Cabinet Secretary and the newly appointed Minister for the Environment, Hannah Blythyn AM.

Our work in 2017 has sought to highlight the unrivalled contribution of farmers and farming to Welsh society. Our campaigns have highlighted how we are ‘Proud to Produce’ across so many areas; food, environment, landscape, heritage, culture, language and to the economy of Wales and our NFU Cymru Community Champion, Wales Woman Farmer, Dairy and Livestock awards have showcased the individuals and farming families behind this good work.

I am immensely proud of our contribution to the well-being of Wales and it is something that we must never lose sight of at what is a pivotal time for Welsh farming.


Future farm policy must not be piecemeal



James Gray: TFA Chair calls for holistic approach

THE TENANT Farmers Association’s National Chairman James Gray has stressed the importance of Government seeing the bigger picture in the development of post Brexit agricultural policy.

Speaking to the TFA’s AGM in London, Mr Gray warned about the dangers of addressing specific policy elements in isolation from the wider context within which farming operates.

“With the country’s decision to leave the European Union in a little over a year’s time, we have a unique opportunity to build a policy for agriculture on our own terms rather than those which have been the result of compromise with the other 27 Member States of the European Union. To do this successfully, the Government must work systematically,” said Mr Gray.

“Put at its most basic, what the new policy framework must address is how to ensure that as a nation we continue to deliver to consumers safe, good quality food, produced to high environmental, ethical and animal welfare standards at prices they can afford and which provide adequate returns to the farming community to cover costs, provide a living and produce a profit which enables reinvestment. It sounds simple to say but more complicated to deliver. It is only recently that we have seen something of the Government’s intention to address this conundrum and it is fair to say that we are some way off achieving a solid basis for taking this forward,” said Mr Gray.

“There will be much to do over the coming months to hone the future policy environment to ensure that we are ready for the brave new world beyond any implementation period agreed with the EU; notwithstanding the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal. The publication of the Government’s 64 page consultation document is a step along the way but it lacks sufficient detail in areas such as correcting market failures within supply chains, protecting animal welfare and environmental standards for food at our borders, promoting structural change and dealing with the challenges of labour supply both in primary agriculture and for first processors. All these areas have equal importance with the future of the Basic Payment and Agri-environment schemes about which the consultation has more to say,” said Mr Gray.

The TFA has also been encouraging landlords and tenants to use the pre-Brexit period for productive discussions about how both parties intend to deal with the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead and leaving discussions about levels of rent until later.

“With so much uncertainty the TFA has been encouraging tenant farmers to ensure that they are in a position to have a rent review available in either the autumn of next year or the spring of the following year when we should know more about the future of our relationship with the EU and the policy environment within which we will be operating,” said Mr Gray.

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FUW fights for fair funding for farming



Alan Davies: Barnett formula must not set farm funding

T​HE FARMERS’ UNION OF WALES has launched its ‘Fair Farm Funding’ campaign to highlight the urgent need for the UK Government to clarify funding for the sector in Wales, at its Grand Council meeting in Aberystwyth.

The campaign aims to secure fair funding for farmers in Wales after leaving the EU, ensuring that the industry does not receive less than it did before the UK left the European Union. It also insists that funding for farming should not be subject to the Barnett Formula.

Launching the campaign at the Union’s Grand Council, Managing Director Alan Davies said: “Historically the funding to support farming in Wales has come from the Common Agricultural Policy, but once the UK leaves the EU in March next year that link will be broken.

“Any funding to support agriculture will have to come from the UK Treasury. We’ve already heard that the Government will commit the same amount of funding to agriculture for the rest of this parliament. But there are complexities around how that funding might be allocated.

“If the UK Treasury matches, as is expected, the current EU payments of £3.5 billion to DEFRA to support UK agriculture, there are at least 2 ways in which that money can be allocated to Wales. One method and the one most often used in UK Government financial calculations is to use the Barnett Formula.”

Mr Davies explained that when “new” money is allocated to a government department, generally the “Barnett consequential” for Wales is around 5.6% of the total money allocated. That means that if DEFRA receive £3.5 billion, the “Consequential” for Wales will be around £196 million.

“Wales has historically received around 9.4% of the total EU CAP budget allocation to the UK. That would equate to £329 million. Barnett would reduce our funding by around 40% and that must not happen.

“In order to deliver Fair Farm Funding for Wales it is therefore essential that the UK Government allocate funds outside the Barnett formula. Wales urgently needs certainty that we will receive at least our historical share of the UK’s agricultural and rural development budget promised by Secretary of State Michael Gove, especially as the budget for next year needs to be in place by October this year,” he added.

Quoting Carwyn Jones the First Minister of Wales, Mr Davies told delegates that: “To achieve this will require a new way of working and the FUW was pleased to hear Welsh Government recognise that ‘agricultural funding will have to be held in a separate pot and dealt with in a different way’.”

FUW President Glyn Roberts added: “This year we celebrate 40 years of being formally recognised by the UK Government to exclusively speak on behalf of the farmers of Wales, and let me be clear, there have been few times during that period where the need for our Union has been greater – to fight for not just the survival of our family farms but for a prosperous future for our members and all those who make a living from agriculture.

“With this in mind, we are pleased to officially launch our ‘Fair Farm Funding’ campaign here today.”

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Warning on liver fluke rise



West Wales: Chronic fluke reported

THE PREDICTION by the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) for a high risk of liver fluke disease in North, West and central Scotland, West Wales and Cornwall this winter have been borne out by incidences recorded over recent months.

Given the risk to both sheep and cattle, SCOPS and COWS have come together to remind producers that the high-risk warning followed a year with one of the wettest summers on record and higher than average rainfall in many parts of Great Britain. The risk in Eastern Scotland and parts of South West and Northern England is predicted to be medium and most of Central and Eastern regions of England were forecast to be at low risk.

Recent reports from members of SCOPS and COWS, including SAC Veterinary Services, APHA and others, support this general situation – but there are localised variations. This means it is very important that farmers talk to their vet, SQP or advisor to find out what is happening in their area, and decide what tests and risk assessment they need to carry out to investigate the situation on their own farm.

Now that we are into late winter, more cases of chronic and sub–acute liver fluke are being seen as the parasite matures in the host. Highlights of reports collated by SCOPS and COWS are as follows:


In Scotland, SRUC report that in terms of liver fluke incidence as a % of total submissions, 2017/18 has been the highest winter level since 2012/13.

In Wales, numerous cases have been reported by APHA. In January and February, cases of chronic fluke in Western England and West Wales are reported.

In Cumbria, cases of sub-acute and chronic liver fluke have been reported with chronic liver fluke in North Yorkshire.

In the Bristol area, abortions in a flock have were associated with the presence of liver fluke disease.

A large Welsh abattoir reports a further increase in lamb liver condemnations due to fluke, rising from 2.8% in October to 5% in November and from 7.3% in January to 10.5% in February. This is significantly higher than the same month a year ago (7.8%) and underlines the fact that this winter is carrying a higher risk.

SCOPS and COWS provide this advice to producers:

Reports of disease continue mainly from high-risk areas, but farmers should seek local information, assess risk and use tests, abattoir feedback and post mortems to inform on-farm control measures.

Re‐infection (when treated animals are put back on to contaminated areas) is still a concern. Farmers need to remember that flukicides do not have any persistent activity. We also now need to be thinking about chronic / sub-acute disease as fluke mature and damage the liver.

Poor pregnancy scanning results in sheep may be the first indication that there is a liver fluke problem on the farm and may be limited to only one group of sheep depending on the group’s autumn/winter grazing history.

Make sure clostridial vaccinations are up-to-date. Black disease is a major cause of losses in cattle (and sheep) that have livers damaged by liver fluke.

While most cases of disease are associated with sheep, cases of liver fluke are being reported in cattle (11% of cattle submissions to SRUC have been associated with liver fluke disease this winter). It is essential that cattle farmers are aware of the risks and discuss sampling/testing/flukicide options for different stock with their vet to avoid disease.

Product choice is critical.

This latter part of the liver fluke season is the time to consider taking pressure off triclabendazole products and swap to alternatives. These include closantel, nitroxynil and products that kill adult fluke, such as oxyclozanide, albendazole (and clorsulon for cattle).

Note restrictions on the use of flukicides in milking cows.

The SCOPS website and COWS website have specific pages providing information on suitable products to use.

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