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Farming

NRW reminds farmers of slurry guidance

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Slurry: NRW advises on pollution risk

NATURAL R​ESOURCES WALES (NRW) is encouraging farmers, landowners and contractors to follow best practice guidance on spreading manure and dirty water during the ongoing wet and wintry weather.

The Code of Good Agricultural Practice recommends that farmers should not apply livestock manure and dirty water when heavy rain is forecast within the next 48 hours or when the land is:

  • waterlogged
  • frozen hard
  • covered with snow
  • cracked down to field drains
  • pipe or mole drained or sub-soiled over drains in the last 12 months

Bob Vaughan, Sustainable Land Manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “We understand the difficult situation which farmers can face with slurry at this time of the year.

“We want to work with farmers to make sure they get the most out of the valuable nutrients in their slurry whilst also making sure that no slurry enters watercourses.

“The Wales Land Management Forum, which includes NRW, is working with Farming Connect to provide more support and guidance to help advise farmers and contractors.

“Farming Connect can offer practical advice, identify improvements and find simple, cost effective solutions to problems with storing slurry and manure.

“They can also provide advice about the importance of preparing a contingency plan before anything goes wrong.

Bob Vaughan continued: “Slurry and manure are an important on-farm financial resource, providing valuable nutrients.

“Unfortunately, slurries and manures are also pollutants if they enter watercourses; affecting water quality, stripping oxygen from water, and killing fish and other river life.

“These same streams and rivers provide us with a huge range of benefits in Wales – including a clean drinking water supply, water for business use and recreation opportunities.

“This is why we all need to play our part in ensuring that we have a healthy water environment.”

Most farmers have a manure management plan and this will identify where it is safe to spread livestock manures and dirty water to avoid causing water pollution.

Farmers who use contractors should ensure they are aware of the pollution risks on the farm and use safe application rates and methods.

Bob Vaughan concludes: “If something does go wrong and slurry or manure has entered, or is at risk of entering a stream or river, farmers are asked to report it straight away to NRW on 03000 65 3000.

This is a 24 hour pollution hotline where duty officers will always be on hand to give advice, so that farmers and NRW can work together to respond to a problem. The sooner any problem is reported, the less damage it is likely to cause.”

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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