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Farming

Red meat industry’s resilience despite uncertainty

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WALES’s red meat industry has shown great adaptability and resilience in responding to the COVID-19 crisis this year, Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) Chairman Kevin Roberts said in a speech to virtual Royal Welsh Show attendees on Monday (July 20).
However, he also warned that the uncertainty wasn’t over, with the potential of further disruption both from Coronavirus and a trade deadlock with Europe.
Addressing the new virtual Showground, Mr Roberts said it was a very different event this year, “We have seen everything change and in the next six months we are faced with worrying challenges amid a menacing maelstrom of uncertainty.”
He said COVID-19 would remain centre stage, forcing necessary social distancing measures that would impact severely on red meat’s important foodservice sector.
“And waiting stage right is the bear of Brexit. With time ticking for the post-Brexit trade talks, lots of end-of-year outcomes remain possible but from our industry’s standpoint, there are simply no upsides to any of these – save continued free trade with Europe.”
Mr Roberts said HCC was carefully planning for all scenarios but cautioned that a harder Brexit was looming that “would potentially bring massive tariffs on our exports and threats to our farms from trade deals with Australia, New Zealand, or America.”
He said the industry in Wales did not deserve this fate. “In the recent months of hardship, it’s shown what it can do; quality food, produced sustainably, trusted and traceable to the farm gate.
“We’re right to be concerned about what we are eating. To consider importing food of a lesser standard, to open the door to cheaper, more intensive, less sustainable red meat from other countries, would be foolhardy,” said Mr Roberts.
He said HCC would respond to the challenges with creativity and drive and pointed to HCC’s marketing successes in response to lockdown closures of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets. “HCC instantly switched its marketing focus, innovating around new isolation initiatives to inspire people to buy roasting joints, hindquarter cuts and premium fresh meat and cook new recipes at home.”
By the end of May, he said this work had racked up huge consumer responses and contributed to an increase of 40% on spending on beef steaks, “This wasn’t just existing customers buying more. The number of people buying beef steaks was up 30%, as we saw consumers turning to quality fresh meat. Our independent butchers saw an even bigger jump in sales. Beef up over 40%, lamb up 25%.”
HCC’s Red Meat Development Programme, funded by the EU and Welsh Government, was driving the industry forward and the successful “Make It Beef” campaign, one of the industry’s largest of recent years and conducted in association with counterparts AHDB and QMS, was being followed by the new “Make It Lamb” campaign, led by celebrity chef John Torode.
“We must all make sure that the lockdown lessons are learned- namely, how we should all treasure and value the food on our plate and properly reward the people that put it there,” said Mr Roberts.
The ‘Make It’ campaigns are being funded from the £3.5 million funds of AHDB red meat levies ring-fenced for collaborative projects which is managed by the three GB meat levy bodies – HCC, QMS and AHDB. The ring-fenced fund is an interim arrangement while a long-term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at the point of slaughter in England for animals which have been reared in Scotland or Wales.

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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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