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Dairy Crisis Update



IN THE FACE of the current dairy crisis, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is once again calling on major UK supermarkets to commit to the procurement of Welshdairycrisis dairy produce, and to ensure that the prices paid for dairy products are such that confidence in the long term future of the sector is revived.

Speaking after a recent FUW milk and dairy produce committee meeting, chairman Dai Davies said: “The FUW has written to the leading supermarkets in the UK to highlight that last year saw many months of consecutive downward milk pricing, which has caused major problems for the sector.

“Whilst some forecasts predict a decline in global milk supplies in the latter half of 2015, the Russian trade embargo, coupled with reduced demand in China and a weak economic environment, will likely delay price rises beyond any potential downturn in production.”

According to figures supplied by Defra, the average November UK farm-gate milk price was more than 16 percent lower than the same month in 2013 and is the lowest farm-gate price since September 2012.

“The falling dairy prices experienced by producers in Wales raises significant concerns within the dairy industry, and a lengthy delay in milk price recovery now seems certain due to a continuing supply and demand imbalance within the global marketplace.

“Factors such as low milk prices, poor profitability and long-term uncertainty in the sector have severely undermined confidence in the long term sustainability of this industry; the very nature of which requires a long term commitment and investment from producers,” added Mr Davies.

Whilst the Union recognises that dairy farmers supplying supermarkets on a dedicated supply contract have received more favourable milk prices, such farmers represent only a small fraction of the Welsh dairy sector – around 4 percent of production – and are therefore unrepresentative of the industry as a whole.

“Failure to secure commitment by providing sustainable prices for dairy should be a major concern for all those within the supply chain. Between January and September 2014, UK dairy imports of cheddar cheese, speciality cheese and butter were around 77,000, 271,000 and 42,000 tonnes respectively and the union is therefore urging the supermarkets to ensure that a concerted effort is made to source dairy products from within our own shores,” added Mr Davies.

However, Sir Jim Paice MP, head of dairy co-operative First Milk said that supermarkets were not wholly to blame for the crisis.

“It is tempting to blame the supermarkets for the current downturn in milk price we’re experiencing but I have to say, as Chairman of First Milk, the crisis that we’re seeing today in the milk industry is not really the supermarkets’ fault,” said Sir Jim Paice, when speaking to NFU Cymru members in Pembrokeshire recently.

Sir Jim continued, “I believe the fundamental problem with the dairy industry at the moment is that there is too much milk on the market. We have seen an approximate increase of 10% of milk produced in the UK alone this year. That has been exacerbated by two things, China dramatically reduced its purchase of milk powder and then Russia introduced its trade ban, which included dairy products. With a third of EU cheese exports going to Russia – that was the final straw and that’s why our milk prices are where they are.

“It has resulted in a very serious situation throughout the country at the moment, particularly here in south west Wales where milk is obviously a hugely important industry.” Sir Jim Paice informed Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru dairy farmer members who attended the meeting.

He used the meeting to assure those farmers that supply First Milk that the co-operative was here to stay and everybody is getting paid for the milk they have produced. He insisted that First Milk was in a very very strong position now, the strongest it has been for many years, and it should be strong enough to withstand the volatile next few months ahead.

John Davies, NFU Cymru Deputy President and Euryn Jones, Agriculture Manager for HSBC Bank, the conference’s sponsor, both agreed with Sir Jim that we were witnessing extremely volatile times at the moment in dairy, as well as other sectors of farming, and both agreed NFU Cymru and the bank were there to help assist members and customers any way they can to get them through the volatility. John Davies said, “What we all want is a fair price from the market place for what we produce.”

Sir Jim is currently the Conservative’s Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire but he is due to stand down at the forthcoming General Election this spring. A Suffolk farmer, farm manager and training manager, Jim Paice was in the position of Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2010 when negotiations first started on the current CAP reforms.

Reflecting on his time as Minister he said that we’ve ended up with a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which is pretty similar to what was originally proposed. He explained, “I’m not saying that means the first proposals were right, what I’m saying is that it was very difficult for 28 very different countries to agree. Discussions were impossible when each Minister from each Member State was given just three minutes to give their views on the proposals. It ended up with each Minister giving set speeches – not a discussion!”

Simon Richards, NFU Cymru’s newly elected Chairman for Pembrokeshire, and a dairy farmer from Haverfordwest, thanked all the speakers at the County Conference, particularly Sir Jim Paice MP, for his insight into the current situation at First Milk and his time as Defra Minister. Mr Richards also thanked HSBC Bank for its generous sponsorship of the event.

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Wales’ new Chief Veterinary Officer starts in the role



TODAY (Mar 13), Dr Richard Irvine begins his new role as Wales’ Chief Veterinary Officer.

Dr Irvine joins the Welsh Government having been UK Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer and policy Deputy Director for Global Animal Health in the UK Government.

A highly experienced veterinarian, Richard has been working in the profession for more than 25 years and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise, with a background in animal health and welfare, trade policy, as well as science and state veterinary medicine.

Richard has previously spent time in a clinical mixed veterinary practice in South Wales.

He has also held different roles leading animal health surveillance and science programmes at the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Dr Irvine said: “Farmers and veterinarians throughout Wales do a fantastic job and I’m looking forward to meeting and supporting them as Wales’ Chief Veterinary Officer.

“We are all committed to protecting the health and welfare of animals and by working together we can meet the challenges we face and accomplish our collective goals.

“Much has been achieved in Wales and my work, alongside the team in Welsh Government, is to build on that.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work and making a real difference here in Wales.”

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I’m very pleased to welcome Richard as our new Chief Veterinary Officer.

“Richard’s leadership and expertise will be crucial in delivering our ambitious Animal Health and Welfare goals and Programme for Government commitments.

“His knowledge and experience will be a great asset and I look forward to working with him.”

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Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Roger Lewis scoops NFU prestigious Cymru award



A WELSH dairy farmer has been honoured at the annual NFU Conference for his dedication and commitment to NFU Cymru and farming in Wales.

Roger Lewis, who farms at Cosheston, Pembrokeshire, was announced as the Welsh winner of the Meurig Raymond Award at NFU Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday 21st February. The award is named after former NFU President Meurig Raymond, whose family also farms in Pembrokeshire.

A passionate and energetic ambassador for the industry, Roger was instrumental in the creation of NFU Cymru’s TB Focus Group, which he now leads as chairman. The group has engaged with various key stakeholders across government and the farming industry, discussing improvements that could be made to the delivery of bovine TB policy in Wales. The group has produced a report which has been presented to Welsh Government with several recommendations on issues such as TB testing, communication, biosecurity and alternative routes for farms under TB restriction to finish or sell their cattle.

Roger was also part of Welsh Government’s TB Task and Finish Group which considers how Welsh Government can improve engagement and communication on bovine TB.

Roger has also given evidence on behalf of NFU Cymru to the inquiry on bovine TB carried out by the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs (ETRA) Committee in the Senedd, in which he eloquently outlined the concerns of the industry with several proposals put forward by Welsh Government to refresh the Bovine TB Eradication Programme, most notably in relation to possible changes to the compensation regime. Roger sits on the bTB subgroup of the GB Calf Strategy and is also at the forefront of a pilot TB project being developed by a group of farmers and vets in Pembrokeshire.

A former NFU Cymru Pembrokeshire County Chairman, Roger has used opportunities such as media interviews, political meetings at the Pembrokeshire County Show and NFU Cymru meetings to powerfully and effectively lobby on several other important issues for farmers in Pembrokeshire and the rest of Wales. He has represented the industry’s concerns over the impact of new water quality regulations on Welsh farming, as well as championing the importance of Welsh Government’s Agriculture (Wales) Bill placing an emphasis on food security.

Speaking after his award win, Roger Lewis said: “I am very humbled to have been honoured with this award. NFU Cymru has a tremendous wealth of dedicated members and staff working together for a better future for Welsh farmers and I am proud to play a small part in the union’s wider lobbying work.”

NFU Cymru Head of Operations Kevin Owen said: “Roger is an example of someone who really does go the extra mile for NFU Cymru and Welsh farming.

“In particular, Roger has been a fantastic driving force in taking forward NFU Cymru’s lobbying work on bovine TB – an area of high importance to our members with the disease still impacting all too many farming businesses. The degree of knowledge and professionalism that Roger brings to his chairing of the NFU Cymru TB Focus Group is second to none and his determination is helping to lobby for real change to the bovine TB picture in Wales.”

Once you have submitted your query our NFU Cymru will contact you and, if appropriate, your question will be passed on to one of our policy teams.

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Keeping dogs under control will protect lambs and other livestock



DoOG owners are being reminded to keep their animals under control around sheep and other livestock.

With lambing season underway as well, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths and Rural & Wildlife Crime Coordinator Rob Taylor have said it’s important dogs should be kept on a lead or under close control at all times and owners should be confident dogs will return on command.

Research has found most incidents involving dogs worrying or attacking sheep happens on land which is not accessible to the public.

The Countryside Code, published by Natural Resources Wales, provides clear guidance on the responsibility of dog owners to keep their dogs under effective control.

Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said: “We have seen the very sad and distressing images where dogs have attacked livestock.

“We know most people are doing the right thing in keeping control of their dogs, but we also recognise some are not.

“The emotional and financial costs for those who own or find dead and injured livestock, is simply unacceptable, as are the implications to animal welfare.

“Responsible dog ownership is key and by taking the required steps, lambs and other livestock will be safe.”

The Welsh Government’s Wales Rural & Wildlife Crime Coordinator, Rob Taylor said: “Sheep worrying and brutal livestock attacks by pet dogs are sadly a regular occurrence across Wales, which is wholly preventable with responsible dog ownership.

“Owners need to be aware that it is a dog’s natural instinct to chase or even attack livestock and at this time of year it is more harrowing when ewes are pregnant or with already born lambs.

“We ask owners to be aware of the risks and use common sense, by walking dogs where livestock are not present.

“It’s vital they understand that an attack on livestock, although unintended, may result in their pet being shot, or euthanised on a court order after a conviction and nobody wants that to happen.”

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