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Farming

Sheep farmers’ future market fears

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WITH Brexit now extended until May 22 if the Prime Minister can get her deal agreed within Parliament, and April 12 if she can’t, the UK still sits on a cliff edge with a no deal being a real possibility. 

NSA is again reminding policymakers of the serious implications of not finding some kind of a solution and preventing a no deal urgently. It is clear that Parliament doesn’t want a ‘no deal’.

The EU has made it clear that they will do what they can to avoid a no deal, but there is a distinct possibility that the UK could simply leave on the April 12, simply because of the absence of any agreement.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “What we all feared but hoped wouldn’t happen is becoming a real possibility. While there may be no shortage of people in the UK that seem prepared to crash out and just get the job done, all evidence suggests that for the sake of the UK’s sheep industry something needs to give quickly to prevent our industry having a devastating shake-up.

“We have been repeatedly warning of the risks of a no deal Brexit, and it now seems more likely than ever that our concerns may be realised.”

NSA is continuing to call for MPs to support the Prime Ministers deal, to allow progress to be made. Mr Stocker continues: “We have to believe that at some point in the next week MPs will again be allowed to vote on the deal, which is the key to the door for a continued trading relationship with the EU. Without that, we’re facing the disturbing reality that sometime very soon we face a disorderly exit causing huge turmoil for the sheep industry. Beyond the uncertainty of what we are expecting now, farmers are bracing for what could potentially be one of the most turbulent years in our trading history. We still don’t know that we have third country status assured with the EU when we leave, and we still don’t have an Agriculture Bill in place. About all that we do know is that the sun will come up in the morning and go down again at night while our industry is being told it should plan more effectively for the future.”

While NSA welcomed the announcement of tariffs on sheepmeat into the UK to match the costs exporters will be facing, it is again warning that these tariffs do not apply to the 114,000 tonnes of sheepmeat a year entering the UK from New Zealand. Mr Stocker adds: “Again, this offers very little by the way of dealing with the imminent problem of an overburden of lamb in the UK market if our exports are disrupted. Very quickly oversupplies will drive lamb prices down, making production unprofitable, with a need to draw on Government support to avoid forcing some farmers out of business.”

Meanwhile, NSA is concerned the new UK framework for agriculture in the form of the Agriculture Bill is stagnant and has yet to pass through either House in Parliament. Mr Stocker says: “This is concerning. If we crash out in the next week or so, the UK will no longer be part of the CAP, and there will be no more funding from the EU. Until the Agriculture Bill is passed, it is all just sentiment. We need the legislation cleared to ensure future provisions are set in stone, to ensure security for the future of the industry.”

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Farming

Appeal for dog walkers to keep pets under control during lambing season

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THE LAMBING season is upon us and with many public paths crossing fields of sheep, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is appealing to dog walkers to follow best practice when out in the countryside.

While walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and other public footpaths and bridleways:

Always keep dogs on a short lead and under close control when sheep or any other livestock are present.
Clean up after your dog; bag it and bin it wherever you can or take it away –please do not leave poo bags in the countryside.

National Park Authority Public Rights of Way Officer, Meurig Nicholas said: “If your dog is out of your sight or left out of control, it may chase after, attack or worry sheep. Worried and stressed pregnant sheep can miscarry or abort their lambs.

“Young lambs are also very vulnerable at this time, and can get distressed and even die if they are separated from their mothers or abandoned after being chased by dogs.”

There have also been incidents where dogs have had to be rescued from cliffs because they were not kept under close control.

Mr Nicholas added: “These situations have resulted in emergency services such as the Coastguard and RNLI having to retrieve and rescue dogs. These incidents are avoidable and add unnecessary pressure to our busy emergency services.”

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Farming

Plan for ‘collaborative approach’ to tackling rural crime issues

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THIS week (Mar 9) Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a strategic meeting with key stakeholders to identify collaborative opportunities to tackle rural and wildlife crime in the Dyfed-Powys area.

Following a meeting with the Farming Unions in Wales earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn is keen to establish a Strategic Partnership Working Group with key stakeholders that will aim to identify ways of working collaboratively to tackle some of the rural and wildlife crime issues in Dyfed-Powys.

Dyfed-Powys Police have recently appointed a Sergeant for the Rural Crime Team, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been keen to consult with key stakeholders to gain an input from partners to support the development of a new Rural Crime Strategy for the Force.

Key Stakeholders that were invited to be part of the strategic group include both NFU Cymru and FUW unions, as well as local authorities, National Parks, RSPCA and many others.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I had positive discussions with representatives from both unions earlier this year to highlight some of the rural crime issues in the Dyfed-Powys area.

“One of the priorities identified was the need to take a collaborative approach to tackling rural and wildlife Crime, and the meeting with several key partners today was an opportunity to develop discussions and ideas further”.

Earlier in March, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn published a Rural Crime bulletin, which highlights some of the work that has taken place recently in the Dyfed-Powys area, and cross border collaborative initiatives.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn noted that this multi agency partnership will aim to build on some of the great work that is already happening, and said;  “This meeting today comes a year on from the successful St. David’s Day Conference focusing on Rural Crime that I held at Police Headquarters last year. The last 12 months have been like no other but sadly crime and incidents affecting the rural community have continued.

“Today’s multiagency Strategic meeting was an opportunity to present the new Sergeant for the specialist team, and to discuss a new website that we are developing in partnership with North Wales Police to provide key crime prevention messages to the agricultural industry – the Future Farms Cymru initiative.

“I’m grateful to all partners who attended the meeting today, and I now look forward to take all comments on board as we look to re-energise and refocus the work of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team.”

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Farming

NFU Cymru ‘responds robustly’ to WG

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NFU CYMRU has said that many proposals within the Welsh Government and Defra’s Welfare in Transport consultation will cause significant disruption to livestock transportation in the UK.

In a robust response to the joint Welsh Government / Defra consultation, the union has stressed the significant impact the proposals would have on the livestock and poultry sectors, and raised concerns that if the proposals are implemented, they will fail to deliver any meaningful benefit to animals’ welfare.

Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said: “In order to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the main priorities should be the animal’s fitness to travel, loading and unloading, driver training and experience, rather than the length of the journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.

“We firmly believe that the current regulations for domestic transport already deliver high welfare, as a result of the standards, cleanliness and adaptability to different weather conditions of transport boxes in the UK. But as an industry, we want to strive for even better. We believe that in order to do that there should be more focus on certified training and providing clearer, sector-specific guidance, particularly during loading and unloading rather than what is proposed in the consultation. Good welfare and healthy livestock go hand in hand; safe arrival at a destination, be that at market or abattoir, must be and is a priority.

“The transporting of livestock is an integral part of UK food production. The suggested changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes, while changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs. It will also lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which work against both farming’s and the government’s net-zero targets.

“Turning to the part of the consultation on live exports, we have inputted our views into a proposed NFU assurance scheme, which is detailed in an appendix in the response. This would be extremely effective in delivering welfare outcomes at the same time as maintaining this trade, as assessing the animals’ health and reporting back to producers is a fundamental part of the scheme.”

Richard Williams, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Poultry Group said: “Looking at the month of January for example, over the last three years on average there were 10 days where temperatures were five degrees or less. If the proposals were implemented to stop transport at this temperature, no broilers could be collected off-farm in those days. If we had a prolonged cold snap; this would have a massive effect on the food chain.

“With any policy developments government makes, it is essential they are based on the latest evidence.  We have an industry to be proud of, with world-leading standards, and that includes our current transportation requirements for all farmed livestock.”

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