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Farming

FUW in fair funding call

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UK Government must ensure level playing field: Glyn Roberts, FUW President

FUW PRESIDENT Glyn Roberts has raised concerns over the stark contrast between discussions taking place within the UK on the future of agriculture and equivalent EU discussions on the continent – highlighting worrying differences between recognition of the importance of common standards and support for farming.

Speaking shortly before Wales’ First Minister, Carwyn Jones delivered his keynote address at the FUW’s Annual General Meeting in Aberystwyth, Mr Roberts told delegates that the principles of providing a fair standard of living for farmers and securing a stable supply of affordable food had been key elements of both Labours 1947 Agriculture Act and the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

“The latest Euro Barometer survey reveals that providing a fair standard of living for farmers and securing a stable supply of safe, healthy high quality food are still considered priorities by the public, not only across the EU, but also here in the UK,” said Mr Roberts.

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has made it clear that the same principles will continue to be at the heart of the 2021-2027 EU Common Agricultural Policy, initial proposals for which were revealed in early June.

By contrast, many fear that food production and the economic viability of farms and rural communities are taking second place or being left out of post-Brexit policies being devised in the UK.

Mr Roberts also underlined the FUW’s major concerns about the liberalisation of financial and legislative frameworks once the UK leaves the EU.

“From Lithuania to Latvia, from Italy to Ireland, huge debates over the future of the Common Agricultural Policy are taking place, with the introduction of greater flexibility to the CAP framework highlighted as a major concern across the 27 member states,” he said.

However, Mr Roberts said similar concerns about the impact of liberal frameworks were not reflected in discussions within or between the UK nations.

“As one of the first organisations to call for our nations to agree on UK frameworks which respect devolution but also prevent fragmentation, unfair competition and market distortion, we of course welcome the fact that our calls for discussions on the issue have been heeded.

“But at the same time, we have become increasingly concerned at the apparent indifference to the importance of having frameworks which are meaningful, – and that some actually welcome the prospect of a carte blanche without a thought for what others might do outside the constraints of the CAP.”

Mr Roberts said the post-Brexit UK frameworks currently being discussed in the UK would be rejected without a second thought across the EU, and basically represented what Commissioner Phil Hogan has indicated would be an unacceptable carte blanche on the continent.

“For this reason the FUW will shortly be publishing a discussion document which for the first time offers up what proper UK frameworks might look like, including in terms of overarching principles, financial limits and key policy instruments that should be honoured in each of our four nations in order to ensure a level playing field while also fully respecting devolution.”

Mr Roberts said the document will highlight the need for a fair funding formula for Wales and the other devolved nations, as well as a multiannual financial framework which takes away the risks of annual budgetary fluctuations, while outlining how key areas of funding should exist within financial limits in order to provide a level playing field while also allowing each of our nations the flexibility to address national needs.

“Brexit brings with it many dangers; allowing imbalances to develop within our internal markets will not only add to those dangers, but it will also undermine what opportunities do exist as a result of Brexit.

“Without such frameworks we risk seeing distortions which will distract us and undermine efforts to tackle all the other challenges facing us – be it bovine TB, farm productivity and profitability, or the successful succession of the next generation,” he added.

Farming

NFU Mutual Tudy Farms Award

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NFU Mutual Tidy Farm Award: 2019's winner Gareth Davies with Grandson Aron Davies

THE NFU MUTUAL Tidy Farm Awards will return to Wales for a second year, after a successful launch in 2019. Entries for this year’s awards opened this month and close in March, promoting farm safety and offering cash prizes to farmers who have addressed common hazards on their farm.
The winner of Wales’ tidiest farm will be awarded £1,000, with £500 and £250 awarded to the second and third place entries. Farmers can nominate themselves, or local people can nominate a farm in their area. Family members and friends can also make nominations.
Entries will be judged on eight submitted photographs which show how common farm hazards have been addressed to reduce the risk of an accident.
The photos should show how the farmer:
• Separates their farm and home
• Stores their vehicles, machinery and equipment
• Uses signs and mark routes for delivery
• Fences off dangerous areas
• Minimises the risks of slips, trips and falls
Details of the award and how to apply are on a dedicated page on NFU Mutual’s website: www.nfumutual.co.uk/tidyfarmawards
Entries close on the March 23 and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony taking place at the Royal Welsh Show in July.
The award judges are Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation; Gwyn Barlow, NFU Mutual Manager for Wales; Dan Killingbeck, Sales Consultant at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Wales; Hedd Pugh, Rural Affairs Board Chairman for NFU Cymru.
The initiative is being supported by NFU Cymru, NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited, the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity set up by NFU Mutual to help farmers work safely.
“The Tidy Farm Awards were set up to recognise farmers who have really gone the extra mile to ensure a safe, tidy and healthy working environment,” said Gwyn Barlow, NFU Mutual Manager for Wales.
“After the competition saw a positive response in 2019, we were keen to re-run the event in 2020 and refresh these vital messages. This year, we’ve extended the number of pictures we will consider per entry from four to eight, giving farmers the best opportunity to showcase what can be done to make farms safer.
“As a mutual insurer which is closely connected with many farms in Wales, we are all too aware of the heartbreak farm accidents cause. Because most farms are homes as well as a workplace, we’re running this award scheme as a reminder that safety should be front of mind for the whole farming family.”
Stephanie Berkeley, who manages the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “Farming and food production play a crucial role in the life and economy of Wales, but every year we have to reluctantly report that agriculture still has the poorest safety record of any occupation here.
Six farm workers lost their lives on Welsh farms in 2018/2019, showing no improvement from the six fatalities in 2017/18. But even one death will always be one too many. All too often, these life-changing and life-ending accidents are avoidable. We know there are farms out there operating safely and efficiently and it’s time to celebrate them and reward those who have created a safe and tidy farm. The Foundation is proud to work with the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and help in their efforts to raise awareness of farm safety and help improve the health and safety of the local farming community.”

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Farming

Mind Your Head

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Farm Safety Foundation: Calling for greater awareness of mental health challenges

THIS week (Feb 10-14) the Farm Safety Foundation, held their third annual Mind Your Head campaign, to raise awareness of the issues facing farmers today and the link between farm safety and mental health.
A study by the Farm Safety Foundation found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern, and have a direct impact on safety on the farm. 84% of farmers under the age of 40 believe that mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today, up from 81% in 2018. Meanwhile, 85% of young farmers believe there is a definite link between mental health and the overall safety of farms.
The farming industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increasing pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill-health. These include extended amounts of time working in isolation, a blurring between work and home life, and financial uncertainty. Brexit, changing consumer habits, and the climate crisis presenting further threats to the industry.
The total income in the UK from farming decreased by a massive £971 million between 2017 and 2018, and 42% of UK farmers would have made a loss between 2014 and 2017 without direct payments from the EU.
Are all of these issues contributing to poor mental health?
In 2018 there were 83 suicides amongst people working in agricultural and related trades in England and Wales.
This year’s Mind Your Head campaign focussed on the physical and mental wellbeing of an industry under pressure and aims to educate those living and working in the UK’s agricultural communities about the various mental health threats facing them. This year’s campaign aims to bring public attention to issues such as ‘smiling depression’, PTSD, loneliness, rural isolation and mental health in young farmers.
Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “It is encouraging to see more discussions about mental health, more awareness of the various mental health conditions and more emphasis on the support available to the farming community; however, more still needs to be done.
“Whilst farmers are often culturally ill-equipped to discuss mental health issues, one of the most effective methods in combating stigma is talking about it. This is what we have been doing and will continue to push.
“It is vital to build a culture within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can impact on the wellbeing of farmers and their families and conversely how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job. Let’s be clear, this isn’t someone else’s responsibility, this is on our watch and, in these challenging times, it’s down to each and every one of us to look out for our friends, colleagues, neighbours and ourselves.”

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Farming

NRW looks to develop partnerships

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Making Connections: NRW focuses on cross-sector working

AN EVENT to celebrate collaboration and developing partnerships to meet the growing challenges facing the Welsh environment has taken place at The Senedd.
Hosted by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and sponsored by the Minister for the Environment, Energy, and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths AM, the Making the Connections event focussed on how NRW works with other organisations for a greener, safer and prosperous Wales.
NRW’s Chief Executive Clare Pillman explained: “Each week, indeed every day, we are witnessing new global and national commitments for nature and the environment – and that is both challenging and exciting.
“And I’m glad to see that Wales – and NRW – is at the forefront of making these commitments.
“But of course, we can’t do this alone, to succeed we need to build positive working relationships focussing on customer service and working in collaboration with partners old and new and this is what this event is all about.”
Following keynote speeches by NRW’s Chair Sir David Henshaw, Clare Pillman and the Minister, an informal networking session took place where guests were able to learn more about specific areas of partnership working.
Topics including waste crime, tourism, timber sector, land management, education, health and wellbeing, metal mines, flooding and LIFE projects were represented by organisations as diverse as the Welsh Revenue Authority, Confor, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia National Parks, Met Office, Public Health Wales, Coal Authority, Cardiff County Council and the farming unions.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said: “I am pleased NRW is taking this opportunity to showcase the work they carry out with their partners and for us all to have this opportunity to build networks and new partnerships.
“It is vital we all work together to reverse the effects of climate change and respond to the challenges of the climate emergency.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to thank NRW staff for their ‘expertise and professionalism’ in protecting communities from the effects of climate change, their work to tackle pollution which harms habitats and species and the complex policy and evidence work behind Wales’ drive to achieve net-zero emissions.
The Environment Act makes collaborative working a legal requirement in Wales and the interest in the Making the Connections event demonstrates its importance in developing innovative and sustainable solutions.
In his closing remarks, Sir David Henshaw said: “The challenges we face are considerable but so are the opportunities and we have, amongst us all, is a remarkable wealth of knowledge and ingenuity on what needs to be done.”
“So, our message is straightforward, not only do we want to develop partnerships, we want to make it easy for others to partner with us for the benefit of both the natural environment and for everyone who lives in or visits Wales.”

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