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Farming

WG’s access proposals concern farmers

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FARMERS ‘remain concerned’ over the access proposals contained within Welsh Government’s Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources consultation, says NFU Cymru.

A written statement by Deputy Minister for Housing & Local Government, Hannah Blythyn AM, provides the government’s response to the chapter four access proposals outlined in the 2017 Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) consultation, with a ‘commitment to access reform’.

The Minister has indicated that she will progress significant changes to access rights and facilitate an assumption of non-motorised multi-use on access land and the public rights of way network. This will provide users, such as cyclists and horse riders, with many more opportunities to access the outdoors.

The Minister has also confirmed that minor technical reforms that were widely supported will be progressed as soon as a suitable legislative vehicle can be identified, including enforcing placing dogs on a short fixed lead in the vicinity of livestock at all times of year and amending the technical provisions around creating, diverting and extinguishing rights of way.

The Minister has announced an independent Access Reform Group will be established to consider in detail how the more significant changes to access rights should be implemented including multiuse paths and reducing restrictions on open access land.

NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Board Chairman Hedd Pugh said: “Following the closure of the SMNR consultation in autumn 2017, farmers have been waiting with bated breath to see how Welsh Government would consider the responses and move forward.

“The Minister’s written statement includes a number of non-controversial elements that we look forward to working on with the government, not least the proposals around enforcing short fixed-length leads on dogs in the vicinity of livestock all year round which will go some way to assist with concerns over increasing levels of worrying of livestock in Wales.

“There do, however, remain a number of areas of concerns for our members. Near the top of this list are changes to multi-user access rights on public rights of way and access land, in particular. These changes could see ‘thrill-seekers’, as the Minister has described them, being granted increased rights on farmland across Wales. It is important to recognise that access is not always responsible and it is farm businesses across Wales who bear a disproportionate burden of this.

“The proposals also do little to address farmers’ fears that they could end up incurring increased costs and liabilities as a result of extended access. Most farmers will be able to tell you of cases where anti-social behaviour and dog worrying, for example, has had an emotional and financial impact on their farm and yet they are the ones left holding the bill.

“We are pleased that the Minister confirmed to the National Access Forum meeting in Bangor yesterday that changes will be subject to a full regulatory impact assessment which will be necessary if full costs and impacts are to be understood.

“Farmers understand better than most the positive benefits of time spent outdoors in our wonderful Welsh countryside. Farmers manage over 80% of the land area of Wales, providing the backdrop for the Welsh tourism industry, and Wales is already home to more public rights of way per square km than any other UK nation. We want the public to enjoy access to the great outdoors, but this must be managed in a manner that is safe for the custodians of the land and access users.”

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Farming

FUW: food standards must be maintained

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THE FUW has highlighted the importance of a trade deal with the EU at a meeting with Minister for Trade Ranil Jayawardena MP and Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams.
The round-table discussion, which included representatives from the FUW and NFU Cymru officials, at Pickstock Farm in Llanfechain was arranged by Craig Williams MP.
Speaking after the event, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We had a good meeting with the Minister and a lively debate around the dangers of allowing cheap substandard food imports after the Brexit withdrawal period.”
Mr Roberts highlighted that food in other non-EU countries was produced to lower animal health and welfare, environmental and social standards than those legally required in Wales and the UK.
“I made it very clear that we must continue our trading relationship with Europe and that if we lose that the consequences for our industry would be devastating.”
Mr Roberts added that we have seen the impacts that the overnight closure of export markets can have on farm incomes and supply chains and reminded the Minister of the impacts of BSE in 1996, FMD in 2001 and the collapse in wool prices following the loss of the China market earlier this year.
He added: “It must also be noted that if we do have a trade deal, the domestic policies we apply to our own producers must be developed with the policies applied for our main competitors in the EU in mind.”
Whilst reassurances were made by the Minister regarding food standards being maintained, Mr Roberts stressed that incoming food products to the UK market must comply with the same standards and regulations as our food producers.
“We will not stand for a race to the bottom when it comes to standards and I took the opportunity to remind the Minister that we supported Neil Parish’s New Clause 2 amendment and have advised Lords on similar amendments that would have the same effect. It is essential that what is included in a trade deal is subject to our standards,” he said.
Speaking about Westminster’s controversial UK Internal Market Bill, which sees the Government try to legislate to break an international treaty it negotiated, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “To propose legislation which would breach an international treaty signed just months ago at a time when we are negotiating trade deals with a long list of countries beggars belief.
“The current government campaigned in the 2019 election on a platform supporting the signing of the withdrawal agreement treaty, which it did as soon as it came to power,” said Mr Rickman.
“As such, and however much the Government now disagrees with sections of it, they do not have a mandate to make such a U-turn, and they certainly do not have a mandate to break international law in a way that would cause such damage to our international reputation.”

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Farming

TFA calls for Agri-Bill amendments

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THE TENANT Farmers Association (TFA) is seeking crucial amendments to the Agriculture Bill as it enters its final Parliamentary stages.
This week, members of the House of Lords began debating the Report Stage of the Agriculture Bill, before it heads back to the House of Commons for sign off prior to Royal assent.
The new legislation will provide the foundation upon which future policy for agriculture and the farmed environment will be built in the years ahead.
TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said “We need this new legislation as it will provide the powers that Government Ministers in England need to implement new policies for farming, as we leave behind those we have known as part of the EU.
“It also has wider implications for the whole of the UK in those areas where Westminster retains responsibility within the Devolution settlement, including on trade and the regulation of food supply chains”.
“Much of the policy detail will be set out in Regulations, but it is essential that the primary legislation underpinning those Regulations is robust. Whilst we welcome the provisions within the Bill focusing on farm tenants, there are significant weaknesses which need to be addressed. The TFA is encouraging their lordships to ensure that these shortcomings are addressed before the Bill receives Royal Assent,” said Mr Dunn.
Without their landlord’s consent, a significant number of farm tenants will struggle to take part in the flagship ‘public payments for public goods’ policy to be created under the new legislation. Whilst the Bill provides a good framework for some farm tenants to appeal against the refusal of their landlords to let them take part in schemes, newer tenants occupying on Farm Business Tenancies (FBTs) are excluded from the appeal process. The Government argues that as FBTs are normally let for shorter terms and therefore renegotiated more often, tenants should be able to negotiate the terms that they need to take part in new schemes.
“With FBTs representing nearly half the land in the tenanted sector of agriculture in England, it makes no sense that they should be excluded from the appeal process. The Government’s argument misunderstands the way in which the let land market operates. With many more people seeking than providing opportunities to farm, landlords are routinely able to dictate the terms under which farms are let. Without an adequate appeals process, many FBT tenants will be locked out of future schemes,” said Mr Dunn.

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Farming

Parasite warning for beef farmers

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BEEF farmers are being advised to get on top of parasites at housing to prevent any production losses, after a warm and wet summer, may have led to an increased risk of mixed worm burdens across the country.
Housing is an important time to clear out any parasites picked up during grazing to prevent growth rate reductions and health issues, according to vet and integrated beef for StraightLine Beef Rob Drysdale.
“The warm and wet weather we are having could mean livestock are at higher risk of a mixed worm burden. It is vital cattle are housed free of worms, fluke, and external parasites such as lice and mange mites to prevent production losses and housing provides the ideal time to do this,” he said.
Mr Drysdale says faecal egg count tests to detect worms and coproantigen tests to detect fluke should be used in combination with farm history and symptoms to determine the issue and whether there is a worm burden, fluke burden, or both (mixed burden).
“Calves that are not performing at grass could also be indicative of a parasite problem and should be treated,” Mr Drysdale said.
Should a mixed burden be an issue then farmers should look to use an appropriate product to treat the problem. He added: “To control a mixed burden the best way is to use a product such as CYDECTIN TriclaMox Cattle Pour-On as it is a combination product that will treat for gutworms, lungworm, lice, mites as well as late immature and adult fluke.
“Lungworm can be particularly problematic at housing as they can often be present without any symptoms. However, when animals are stressed that is when they can cause problems. Lungworm can be a major issue because of the respiratory impact it has.
“Always work with your animal health care provider when drawing up a parasite control plan,” he added.

When worming stock make sure you:
• Weigh animals and dose to the heavier weight (if the weights are similar)
• Check dosing guns are calibrated
• Check the wormer you are using is within date and has been stored correctly
• Make sure your equipment is fit for purpose
• Check how you apply it i.e. pour-on, subcutaneously, etc
• Buy your products ahead of the housing season so you are well prepared.

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