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Farming

Efficiency, weather, and politics

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MARKET analysis by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has suggested that there are several factors behind new figures which show that 2019 was a bumper year for lamb and beef production.

Newly-released data from Defra on UK abattoir throughputs, combined with Welsh Government statistics from the June Survey of agriculture issued late last year, show a slight increase in the lamb crop, and a rise in carcase weights of both lambs and prime cattle.

Throughput figures show that total UK sheepmeat production in 2019 stood at 307,500 tonnes, 6.4% higher than last year, due to a 3% increase in the number of animals slaughtered to a total of 14.9 million, combined with heavier carcase weights. Wales accounts for around 30% of the UK flock, but the continuing practice of some animals being slaughtered across the border means that the Welsh statistics for 2019 totalled 63,400 tonnes of production and a throughput of 3.3 million animals (from a total sheep population of 9.5 million head in June).

UK production levels of beef stood at 914,400 tonnes, with a small increase in the number of animals slaughtered and a large rise in carcase weights – ranging from a 3.9kg increase in the average weight of heifers to a 10.6kg jump in weights of adult cattle.

According to HCC Data Analyst Glesni Phillips, the figures reflect long-term trends in production efficiency on-farm, but also climate factors which were unique to 2019.

“In the case of the sheep industry, the June survey showed the Welsh lamb crop was up by 1.2% over the previous season, and that increase has now been reflected in the production figures,” said Glesni. “2019 was a good year for grass growth, and conditions at lambing time were also much better than 2018 which saw a spell of very cold weather in February and March.”

Political factors, however, may have contributed to lambs being finished sooner. Glesni continued, “The favourable weather conditions enabled many farmers to bring lambs to market sooner in the autumn, and many will have done so earlier than usual due to the uncertainty of the October 31 Brexit deadline. This may now lead to a tightening of supply in the early months of 2020 before the new season lamb crop is ready.”

According to Glesni, the market outlook for both lamb and beef is complicated by global factors.

“In terms of beef, the Welsh June Survey figures show the breeding herd declining. The high UK-wide slaughter throughput of heifers during 2019 suggests that an immediate recovery in breeding numbers is unlikely,” she explained. “This addition to the overall supply, combined with heavier carcase weights, contributed to poor farm-gate prices last year, although there are other trends in both UK retail and international trade which also played a part.”

“The presence of African Swine Fever in pigs in China has increased global demand for pork and other types of meat which could support prices, but uncertainty around what trade deals will be struck after Brexit is far from over,” explained Glesni.

HCC issues prices daily from livestock markets by text, on its Twitter feed and website, and a monthly summary of industry trends is available by subscribing to its ‘Market Bulletin’ e-mail.

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Farming

Government won’t be able to blame Brussels

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BREXIT could have British farmers reap the benefits of international trade thanks to a leading British product, National Farmers Union vice-president Stuart Roberts suggested.

Brexit could help British farmers take on a leading role on the world stage thanks to great dairy and meat products created in the country, according to Mr Roberts. Asked whether leaving the EU could benefit the farming industry, the National Farming Union (NFU) vice-president insisted Brexit will offer the UK more freedom to trade with the rest of the world.

Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Roberts said: “There are several benefits. If we talk about trade, there are certain parts of the world where I think we can have some real positive trade deals.

“Our dairy products, for example, are ones that we can lead the world on, we can add value to.
“When you look at our sustainable meat production in this country, people are crying out for this around the world. I think there are some opportunities in trade.”

The NFU vice-president also suggested leaving the European Union will grant the UK to have full control over farming regulations in the future.

Mr Roberts also said Brexit will force British politicians to be more “accountable” for the decisions they will take in the coming years.

He continued: “There are also opportunities in terms of the regulatory environment.
“We are now, at least, in a position where the politicians in this country will make the decisions and be responsible for it.

“They can’t blame someone else, they can’t pass the buck. In every aspect of society, probably for all of us, it was convenient to blame Brussels for things.

“Going forward people are going to have to be more accountable.”

The UK will no longer abide by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at the end of the transition period scheduled to conclude on December 31, 2020.

in December 2019, former Chancellor Sajid Javid announced farmers could enter the new year with confidence that they will be able to “thrive” after Brexit after he confirmed just under £3 billion of funding for 2020.
The cash – to be spread over two years – will be used to support farmers once all Brexit phases have concluded and the CAP direct payments scheme ends next year.

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Farming

Young hill farmer stars in £250,000 campaign

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AN ACCOMPLISHED young farmer from the Ceiriog valley is starring in a nation-wide campaign promoting PGI Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Caryl Hughes, who farms in partnership with her family near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, features in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s latest campaign.

The £250,000 campaign was announced in November 2019 by HCC Chair Kevin Roberts at the annual HCC Conference and will focus on Welsh red meat’s sustainable qualities. The campaign will include radio and tv advertising, on-demand tv advertising, print advertising and media partnerships. It will also feature core messages around Wales’ sustainable red meat production focusing on elements such as – landscape, climate and water usage.

The television advert sees Caryl at home on her farm in Ceiriog valley and displays the dramatic landscapes and natural surroundings where Caryl rears her own flock.

Caryl is a familiar face within Welsh agriculture; having previously held the role of National Sheep Association Young Ambassador and Montgomery YFC Chair.

Caryl has a degree in Agriculture from Aberystwyth University and, notably, was the first person to undertake the Llyndy Isaf Scholarship with the National Trust – where she managed a Snowdonia hill farm for a year combining sustainable farming practices with managing the outstanding natural environment.

Having also competed on S4C’s Fferm Factor, Caryl is also someone comfortable both on film and in the field.
Commenting on the campaign, Caryl said ‘Like most Welsh sheep and beef farmers, I am very proud of our industry, the food we produce and how we produce it. I’m very pleased to be involved in this campaign promoting exactly that.’

HCC’s Market Development Manager Rhys Llywelyn commented ‘We wanted the real, authentic voices of Welsh farming to star in this campaign to show the real picture of Welsh red meat production.’

‘Caryl’s knowledge, passion and experience are undeniable and she is a very credible ambassador for our industry and produce. We’re sure viewers and consumers at home will find Caryl very relatable and engaging in this advert’
HCC’s new campaign launched on Thursday, February 13, and can be seen and heard on on-demand television platforms and radio stations throughout England and Wales.

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Farming

FUW reminds members about SAF

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IT’s that time of year again when we start thinking about Single Application Forms (SAF).

The application window opens on Monday, March 2, and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding its members that county staff are here to help and ready to take the stress of filling the form away from you.

The FUW provides this service exclusively to all paid-up members as part of their membership package, which has proved invaluable for thousands of members over the years – saving them time and a paperwork-headache.

FUW Membership and Operations Manager Caryl Roberts said: “The SAF completion process is probably the single most important form completion exercise being carried out by Welsh farmers since 2004, and the financial repercussions of errors on the forms are severe.

“Our staff are not only well trained but very well practised in dealing with the complex application process.”
Since the Welsh Government mandated that all applications should be done online, the FUW is focused on providing the best possible service to its members.

“I encourage our members and first-time form fillers to contact their local office as soon as possible to book an appointment if they need help in filling out the form,” added Caryl Roberts.

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