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Agri-tech innovation centre completed

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ON TIME and on budget, the final set of keys were handed over at the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus (AberInnovation) on Monday, August 24, to mark the completion of the new world-leading bioscience facility after a two-year construction programme.

The AberInnovation team, along with key stakeholders and representatives from construction contractor Willmott Dixon, celebrated the completion of the final building at the new Campus’s Innovation Hub.

Maintaining social distancing, the team held a ceremonial key handover to recognise the completion of the project which has seen the creation of a new Biorefining Centre, Seed Biobank and Processing Facility, Future Food Centre, Advanced Analysis Centre and Innovation Hub.

Dr Rhian Hayward MBE, Chief Executive Officer at AberInnovation said: “AberInnovation is a major investment in the research and innovation infrastructure for the UK. I am delighted to receive the keys from our contractors, who have delivered these complex facilities to an exceptional standard.

“We are already attracting a pipeline of collaborative projects to be hosted in the new buildings which is a testament to the vision of our investors. AberInnovation will be a catalyst for innovative, interdisciplinary research and development and we look forward to supporting new product development and job creation.”

The handover marks the start of the operational phase of the Campus which was recently and awarded an additional £3m in revenue funding from the Welsh Government.

Jeremy Miles, Counsel General and Minister for European Transition in Welsh Government, said: “This new facility will create excellent quality jobs, new opportunities for Welsh businesses and enable world-leading research in bioscience to take place at the University – it’s great news for Aberystwyth and the local economy as we rebuild Wales following the pandemic. I’m delighted the Welsh Government has been able to support this venture with £23m through our European Regional Development Fund programmes.”

With this support AberInnovation is now perfectly placed to develop a pipeline of collaborative research and development projects within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “Today marks a hugely significant milestone for the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus and for the University’s Gogerddan campus.

“This development forms one of three major capital projects at Aberystwyth University and I congratulate everyone who has been involved with delivering the work on time and on budget – no mean feat in the current climate.

“The challenges we face are unprecedented and these new cutting-edge facilities for collaborative research and development projects within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors offer an exciting prospect and an important and timely boost for the Welsh economy, and in particular the rural economy of mid and west Wales.”

Construction has continued safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, with contractor Willmott Dixon strictly implementing the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures.

Neal Stephens, Managing Director Willmott Dixon said: “It is great that we have been able to hand over the final building today. Despite everything that COVID-19 has thrown at us, the team have worked tirelessly to keep the project both safe and operational throughout. It is a testament to everyone involved that we have delivered the project on time and on budget.

“This new facility is going to play such an important role in protecting our food, water and energy security now and in the future; and we are delighted in playing our role in helping make that happen.”

Bill Poll, BBSRC’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “As one of the partners investing in the Campus, BBSRC is excited to see the completion of this key milestone and how these facilities will enable AberInnovation to continue driving the development of a vibrant and thriving innovation community, enabling entrepreneurs and businesses to collaborate with researchers, access specialist facilities, and benefit from support networks and targeted events.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, BBSRC – part of UK Research and Innovation – and Aberystwyth University, the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus provides a world-leading facility for bio-science research

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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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