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Farming

Farmers reminded of impending changes to Bovine TB regulations

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nfu (1)NFU CYMRU used Pembrokeshire County Show to remind farmers of impending changes to rules on Bovine TB premovement testing of cattle moving to and from premises within Sole Occupancy Authorities (SOAs) which will come into effect after 30 September 2014.

From 1 October, cattle moving between premises within a SOA will need to have had a negative TB premovement test before they are moved. However, following NFU Cymru lobbying, cattle keepers who already possess a SOA will now be able to apply for an Interim Land Association Management (ILAM) agreement. An ILAM agreement will allow cattle to be moved between premises within the ILAM without needing to have had a TB pre-movement test. There will be a number of criteria which will apply to the granting of an ILAM, the main one being that the boundary of land in the destination premises must be within 10 miles of the boundary of the main farm premises.

To apply for an ILAM farmers will need to contact their own private vet and they should also contact the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) to obtain an application form which will need to be submitted to AHVLA before 30 September. Commenting on the proposed changes, Pembrokeshire dairy farmer and NFU Cymru President Stephen James said, “I’m concerned about the potential implications of these changes to Bovine TB policy for farmers who manage movements of cattle between blocks of land under their management and control. “It’s clear that the Welsh Government hasn’t fully considered the practical implications for cattle keepers as a result of implementing these changes and I fear that these changes will only serve to add financial costs and complexity whilst at the same time add to the bureaucracy and red tape for many farmers.”

Mr James added, “I’m particularly concerned for those farmers who keep cattle on rented summer grazing land where there may be a lack of suitable and safe cattle handling facilities to carry out TB tests. For some farmers in this situation it may be prudent to return cattle to the main farm holding before the end of September in order to avoid the new requirements to premovement test which will now come into effect from 1 October. However, I also appreciate that this may not be a suitable solution in all cases and would urge the Welsh Government to take a pragmatic and common sense approach to requests from farmers to post movement test cattle that are returned from summer grazing after 1 October and placed in suitable isolation facilities on farm.

This would present a practical solution which would significantly reduce the health and safety hazards of testing cattle in unsuitable or unsafe locations.” Mr James concluded, “NFU Cymru has consistently called for simplification to the current system of livestock movement reporting and recording, as per the recommendations put forward to Welsh Government by Gareth Williams in his Working Smarter programme report aimed at reducing bureaucracy and regulation in agriculture, which was published in January 2012.

Whilst we can welcome Welsh Government’s commitment to deliver on these recommendations, we cannot agree with fast tracking the removal of TB pre-movement testing exemptions within SOAs when the implementation of the full package of simplification measures recommended within the Working Smarter report still seems to be some distance away from being delivered.”

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Farming

Appeal for dog walkers to keep pets under control during lambing season

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THE LAMBING season is upon us and with many public paths crossing fields of sheep, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is appealing to dog walkers to follow best practice when out in the countryside.

While walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and other public footpaths and bridleways:

Always keep dogs on a short lead and under close control when sheep or any other livestock are present.
Clean up after your dog; bag it and bin it wherever you can or take it away –please do not leave poo bags in the countryside.

National Park Authority Public Rights of Way Officer, Meurig Nicholas said: “If your dog is out of your sight or left out of control, it may chase after, attack or worry sheep. Worried and stressed pregnant sheep can miscarry or abort their lambs.

“Young lambs are also very vulnerable at this time, and can get distressed and even die if they are separated from their mothers or abandoned after being chased by dogs.”

There have also been incidents where dogs have had to be rescued from cliffs because they were not kept under close control.

Mr Nicholas added: “These situations have resulted in emergency services such as the Coastguard and RNLI having to retrieve and rescue dogs. These incidents are avoidable and add unnecessary pressure to our busy emergency services.”

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Farming

Plan for ‘collaborative approach’ to tackling rural crime issues

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THIS week (Mar 9) Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a strategic meeting with key stakeholders to identify collaborative opportunities to tackle rural and wildlife crime in the Dyfed-Powys area.

Following a meeting with the Farming Unions in Wales earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn is keen to establish a Strategic Partnership Working Group with key stakeholders that will aim to identify ways of working collaboratively to tackle some of the rural and wildlife crime issues in Dyfed-Powys.

Dyfed-Powys Police have recently appointed a Sergeant for the Rural Crime Team, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been keen to consult with key stakeholders to gain an input from partners to support the development of a new Rural Crime Strategy for the Force.

Key Stakeholders that were invited to be part of the strategic group include both NFU Cymru and FUW unions, as well as local authorities, National Parks, RSPCA and many others.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I had positive discussions with representatives from both unions earlier this year to highlight some of the rural crime issues in the Dyfed-Powys area.

“One of the priorities identified was the need to take a collaborative approach to tackling rural and wildlife Crime, and the meeting with several key partners today was an opportunity to develop discussions and ideas further”.

Earlier in March, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn published a Rural Crime bulletin, which highlights some of the work that has taken place recently in the Dyfed-Powys area, and cross border collaborative initiatives.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn noted that this multi agency partnership will aim to build on some of the great work that is already happening, and said;  “This meeting today comes a year on from the successful St. David’s Day Conference focusing on Rural Crime that I held at Police Headquarters last year. The last 12 months have been like no other but sadly crime and incidents affecting the rural community have continued.

“Today’s multiagency Strategic meeting was an opportunity to present the new Sergeant for the specialist team, and to discuss a new website that we are developing in partnership with North Wales Police to provide key crime prevention messages to the agricultural industry – the Future Farms Cymru initiative.

“I’m grateful to all partners who attended the meeting today, and I now look forward to take all comments on board as we look to re-energise and refocus the work of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team.”

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Farming

NFU Cymru ‘responds robustly’ to WG

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NFU CYMRU has said that many proposals within the Welsh Government and Defra’s Welfare in Transport consultation will cause significant disruption to livestock transportation in the UK.

In a robust response to the joint Welsh Government / Defra consultation, the union has stressed the significant impact the proposals would have on the livestock and poultry sectors, and raised concerns that if the proposals are implemented, they will fail to deliver any meaningful benefit to animals’ welfare.

Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said: “In order to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the main priorities should be the animal’s fitness to travel, loading and unloading, driver training and experience, rather than the length of the journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.

“We firmly believe that the current regulations for domestic transport already deliver high welfare, as a result of the standards, cleanliness and adaptability to different weather conditions of transport boxes in the UK. But as an industry, we want to strive for even better. We believe that in order to do that there should be more focus on certified training and providing clearer, sector-specific guidance, particularly during loading and unloading rather than what is proposed in the consultation. Good welfare and healthy livestock go hand in hand; safe arrival at a destination, be that at market or abattoir, must be and is a priority.

“The transporting of livestock is an integral part of UK food production. The suggested changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes, while changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs. It will also lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which work against both farming’s and the government’s net-zero targets.

“Turning to the part of the consultation on live exports, we have inputted our views into a proposed NFU assurance scheme, which is detailed in an appendix in the response. This would be extremely effective in delivering welfare outcomes at the same time as maintaining this trade, as assessing the animals’ health and reporting back to producers is a fundamental part of the scheme.”

Richard Williams, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Poultry Group said: “Looking at the month of January for example, over the last three years on average there were 10 days where temperatures were five degrees or less. If the proposals were implemented to stop transport at this temperature, no broilers could be collected off-farm in those days. If we had a prolonged cold snap; this would have a massive effect on the food chain.

“With any policy developments government makes, it is essential they are based on the latest evidence.  We have an industry to be proud of, with world-leading standards, and that includes our current transportation requirements for all farmed livestock.”

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