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Farming

Consumers appreciate locally-sourced food

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A SURVEY from Weetabix has found that almost a third of UK consumers admit the Covid-19 pandemic has made them realise how important locally sourced products are to the UK economy, with 48 per cent of Brits actively looking for locally sourced items in the supermarket.

A third of those polled say they have been more supportive of local British businesses both during and since lockdown, than ever before. More than a third do so to be more ethical in their shopping habits, whilst over two thirds hope to support local farmers and almost half do so for healthier and fresher produce.

The survey comes as Weetabix unveiled a stunning crop circle in the British countryside during this year’s harvest to raise awareness of the value of locally produced food to the UK economy.

Carefully produced over 36 hours, the crop circle highlights Weetabix’s commitment to working exclusively with local farmers. The company sources of the wheat in Weetabix Original biscuits from within 50-miles of their mills in rural Northamptonshire.

The crop circle was created on Antony Pearce’s wheat field at Moat Farm, Stoke Mandeville.

Antony Pearce commented: “As a British farmer it’s comforting to see some positives emerge from the first half of the year with people looking to support local businesses more and seeking to have a greater understanding of where their food comes from. We have grown the highest quality wheat to meet Weetabix’s high standards for 10 years and are proud to be one of the farms that fall within the 50-mile radius of their factory.”

A further 51 per cent believe that by ‘buying local’ they are helping the economy and 45 per cent hope to reduce their ‘food miles’ – the distance food has travelled before it arrives at our homes.

In fact, more than a third say they check the food miles of items when shopping by looking up the country of origin, believing the benefits of buying goods with fewer food miles to be include a lower carbon footprint (64 per cent), helping preserve UK farms (54 per cent) and less pollution (57 per cent).

When it comes to meals, breakfast is believed to be the dish with the least food miles behind it – possibly due to the likes of eggs, cereals and milk. A further 29 per cent also believe fewer food miles will mean they receive healthier food and 58 per cent think the goods will be fresher as they have travelled less.

Francesca Theokli, Marketing Director at Weetabix commented: “Our study showed that more than two thirds believe companies are not transparent enough about where their food is grown and produced. So we wanted to create this crop circle to highlight our ongoing commitment to locally sourcing the highest quality wheat from a 50 mile radius of our home and help consumers make an informed choice when selecting what to have for breakfast.
“There are many ways Brits can support local farmers and being careful about where breakfast is sourced is one simple step.”

The research also revealed:
• Items people are likely to buy which have been grown and produced in the UK were found to include butter (49 per cent), eggs (71 per cent) and strawberries (55 per cent).
• Whereas the likes of teabags (22 per cent), bananas (13 per cent) and chocolate (19 per cent) are believed to be difficult to purchase ‘locally’.
• A further 31 per cent feel there are limited options of local products in supermarkets and as a result, 45 per cent of Brits would like to see the big brands sourcing local ingredients to lead the way.

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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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