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Farming

Producers talk post-Brexit food brand protection

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Sponsoring MP Hywel Williams: Met with producer representatives

REPRESENTATIVES of some of the UK’s most iconic foods met with MPs and Peers at Westminster on Tuesday​ (May 15) with the future of Protected Food Names top of the agenda.

Politicians crowded into Westminster’s Jubilee Room for a showcase of foods from among 86 products which currently enjoy designation under the European Protected Food Names scheme. The event, organised by the UK Protected Food Name Association (UKPFN) was an opportunity to discuss how the brands bring £4.8 billion in export income to the UK each year, and how the scheme could be maintained after Brexit.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) had a major presence at the event, with samples of PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) Welsh Lamb and Beef proving popular among the politicians.

“PGI designation has been the cornerstone of efforts to grow new markets for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, at home and abroad,” said HCC Chief Executive Gwyn Howells. “It is recognised as a mark of high quality and traceability among the food industry globally.

“We naturally take a close interest in how these brands, currently protected under EU law, will be maintained after Brexit,” he added. “As part of the UKPFN Association, we have been engaging actively with the Westminster and Welsh Governments.”

Gwyn Howells explained​:​ “It is possible for products outside the EU – such as Colombian Coffee – to have this designation. However the issue is part of the Brexit negotiations, and nothing is yet guaranteed.

“It’s vital that a solution is found to enable lamb and beef from Wales to maintain their current status alongside iconic products such as Champagne and Parma Ham,” he argued.

“PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef is a billion pound industry employing thousands on farms and in the supply chain. Anything less than a seamless transition to an equivalent scheme which is recognised worldwide could risk the export success that Welsh red meat has enjoyed over the past decade.”

The event was sponsored by Arfon MP Hywel Williams, and featured over thirty products from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and a large delegation from Wales including Anglesey Sea Salt and Welsh Wine.

Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Energy Planning and Rural Affairs said “Protected food names are internationally-recognised badges of authenticity and originality. Wales produces world-leading food and drink of the best quality. Our Protected Food Name basket is growing, which gives recognition to the dedication of our producers to quality and ensures that their products are protected under EU law.

“The EU scheme has registered products from as far as China, Cambodia and Turkey, which demonstrates that when UK leaves the EU there is a strong precedent set towards negotiating our continued part in this scheme, the Welsh Government will work hard to ensure this. Wales has deep experience in food and agriculture, and the substantial number of protected and designated products is a result of our ability to combine traditional farming methods with innovation and technology​.”​

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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