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Farming

Union welcomes private vet input to TB testing

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THE FARMERS’ UNION OF WALES has welcomed deputy farming and food minister Rebecca Evans’ announcement that private vets will remain at the heart

Private vets to help: Menter a Busnes in North Wales and Iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd in South Wales

Private vets to help: Menter a Busnes in North Wales and Iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd in South Wales

of TB testing procedures in Wales.

Two ‘Delivery Partners’ have successfully tendered for TB testing in Wales – Menter a Busnes in North Wales and Iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd in South Wales.

FUW animal health and welfare committee chairman Catherine Nakielny said: “The union is pleased that private vets will remain central to TB testing in Wales. The FUW believes that only private vets have knowledge of the farm business and of the local disease situation.”

Farmers will continue to be responsible for ensuring that TB testing is completed on time but in future they will need to contact their regional Delivery Partner to make the arrangements.

Delivery Partners will then be responsible for allocating the actual testing activity through their network of practices and for assuring the quality of the work performed.

Work that has already been assigned to Official Veterinarian (OV) practices under existing arrangements will be completed by those practices but from April 1 all new work will be undertaken by Delivery Partners.

When making arrangements for tests, farmers and livestock keepers can express a preference to use a specific veterinary practice from within the Delivery Partners network to undertake their testing, and this preference will be honoured where possible.

Farmers and livestock keepers who would prefer to use a practice that is not part of the Delivery Partners network retain an option to pay for the testing privately.

“The announcement provides certainty to farmers in Wales about the future of TB testing and the continued and critical role of the private vet in the control and eradication of bovine TB,” added Miss Nakielny.

Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans declared: “This is good news for Wales and particularly for those successful Welsh veterinary service providers which will form an important foundation stone for the TB Eradication Programme.”

Also welcoming the news, Christianne Glossop, Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales commented: “The private vet has a detailed understanding of the wider health status of each herd under their care and is uniquely placed to apply this in support of our TB Eradication Programme. I would like to congratulate Iechyd Da and Menter a Busnes on their successful bids and look forward to working with them.”

Eirwen Williams, Director of Development, Menter a Busnes, stated: “We will be working with Milfeddygon Gogledd Cymru (MGC) which includes 27 local vet practices in North Wales. Winning this contract will mean a continuation of service to farmers and secures many veterinary jobs within the local practices, which make an important contribution to the rural economy. Our aim is to provide an efficient, high quality service and we will be working in close partnership with APHA and the veterinary profession.”

David Thomas, Senior Official Veterinarian (SOV) for Iechyd Da said: “We are delighted that Iechyd Da which is a consortium of 38 independent Welsh veterinary practices and Welsh Lamb & Beef Producers Ltd, a producer co-operative of around 8,000 Welsh livestock farmers have been able to secure this contract. The contract award ensures that TB Testing in the area will be delivered by the farmers local vet practice, as all existing practices delivering TB testing in South Wales are a member of the Iechyd Da consortium.”

The contracts have been awarded for a three year period, with the option to extend up to a further two years.

Farmers and livestock keepers in Wales will continue to be responsible for ensuring that TB testing is completed on time but in future will need to contact their regional Delivery Partner to make these arrangements. Delivery Partners will then be responsible for allocating the actual testing activity through their network of practices, and for assuring the quality of the work performed.

In recognition of the important relationship between farmers or livestock keepers and their vets in preventing and controlling disease and for ensuring the health and welfare of animals, the new contracts require Delivery Partners to offer testing work to eligible veterinary businesses operating within their geographical regions.

Work that has already been assigned to Official Veterinarian (OV) practices under existing arrangements will be completed by those practices but from 1 April all new work will be undertaken by delivery partners.

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Farming

NSA Lambing List closes

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AS A much-valued service to its members, the National Sheep Association’s (NSA) Lambing List provides farmers with a place to advertise for much-needed lambing assistance from students and others seeking work experience each year.


The list annually provides an annual matchmaking service for around 400 farmers and veterinary and agriculture students. And despite a second lambing season under the constraints of Covid-19 restrictions the list has once again successfully helped farmers across the UK at this busy time of year.


The list has now closed and will reopen for advertisements for the 2021/2022 lambing season in the Autumn.
 NSA Communications Officer Katie James says: “The popularity of the NSA Lambing List grows each year.
“The guidance it provides to farmers using it and the links it offers students means it is incredibly valued by all parties involved. For most, the past two lambing seasons have taken place during Covid-19 restrictions meaning potential shortages of staff due to travel constraints or illness from the virus itself and additional measures to consider such as separate accommodation for temporary staff and social distancing.


“All at NSA are therefore pleased that the list has been able to help remove some of these concerns and provide a trusted method of securing extra help for its sheep farming members.”


 In a previous survey of NSA members using the list, more than 90% of respondents said they valued the list and would use it again to try and source additional lambing help from veterinary and agriculture students.


 Students who will be looking for work experience to assist their application to university or as part of ongoing veterinary studies are encouraged to consult the list from November 2021 when it becomes available once again to aid the student/farmer matchmaking.

NSA members will be able to add details of their available placements for their next lambing season from October.

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Farming

MPs urge level playing field

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IN its new report—Seafood and Meat Exports to the EU—the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee expresses urgent concerns for exporters of highly time-sensitive fresh and live seafood and meat shipments to the EU, particularly small and medium-sized businesses.
Despite overcoming initial “teething problems” the new barriers small seafood and meat export businesses face could render them unviable, and factories and jobs may relocate to the EU.
The Committee’s report, therefore, calls on the Government to ease burdens, including:

• as a matter of priority, seeking agreement with the EU on digitising the certification of paperwork such as Export Health Certificates
• taking a flexible approach to the compensation fund for seafood exporters—including reconsidering the cap of £100,000 on individual payments, and providing similar support to meat exporters
• providing the same help to small meat and seafood businesses with the costs of extra red tape for exports to the EU as they can receive for moving goods to Northern Ireland
• establishing a ring-fenced fund to help create new distribution hubs, which allow smaller consignments to be grouped into a single lorry load, so reducing transport costs.

The Committee criticises the fact that controls on EU seafood and meat imports will not commence until 1 October 2021, with checks at the border only commencing from 1 January 2022.
This has placed British businesses at a competitive disadvantage and reduced the incentive on the European Commission to negotiate measures that would lessen the burdens facing British producers.
The report finds that adhering to the revised timetable will be ‘crucial’, to ensure food safety and to create a regulatory level playing field.
Neil Parish MP, Chair of the EFRA Select Committee, said: “British businesses have acted with incredible agility and perseverance to adapt to the new processes for exporting meat and seafood to the EU.
“With the many checks causing delays and costs, this hasn’t been easy. We are concerned that in the absence of equivalent checks for imports from the EU to Great Britain, there will be serious long-term repercussions for our producers.
“As it stands, the playing field is not even, and the Government must ensure that the new timetable to introduce import checks is adhered to.
“Even as “teething problems” are sorted, serious barriers remain for British exporters, and it is now imperative that the Government take steps to reduce these.
“It must be pragmatic in seeking an agreement with the EU to reduce the red tape that harms both sides, and in the meantime, crack on with giving practical support to small British businesses to sell their produce abroad.
“By the end of the year, the Government must have developed a digital system for certifying EHCs for imports from the EU, enabling it to then negotiate a reciprocal arrangement.”

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Farming

Cattle prices exceed averages – and expectations

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BEEF cattle prices in England and Wales have hit the milestone of £4 per kilo, making this average the highest on record in a number of years.

The average deadweight price for steers for the week ending 24 April was 401.4p per kg which is 83p higher than this time last year and 67p above the five-year average.

Market prices at present are being influenced by a number of unique factors, including strong UK domestic retail demand, a lack of supply due to stockpiling in late-2020 ahead of the Brexit deadline, and changes in trade patterns caused by both Brexit and the Covid pandemic.

Whilst the impact of these factors on demand for beef in 2021 is unpredictable, newly released data from the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) suggests that no radical shift is likely in the supply of animals over the coming months.

During 2020, total calf registrations in GB were up marginally (0.5%) on 2019. In Wales, the figures show an increase of 1.4% in beef calf registrations, whilst dairy calf numbers increased by 3.2% on the year. For 2021 so far, beef calf registrations are currently trending 1.1% below last year.

Glesni Phillips is a Data Analyst at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). She said: “As we approach the peak calving period for spring calving herds in Wales, it is expected that BCMS monthly registration figures will increase over the coming months.

“However, the suckler cow herd in the UK has been retracting in recent years and currently, it shows no signs of re-building quickly. Prime heifer slaughterings during 2020 and the first quarter of this year, for instance, are higher than recent historic levels.

“These figures would suggest that supply onto the domestic UK market will likely remain tight for some time. Domestic retail figures for beef are strong, and with barbeque season coming up we should continue to see good demand  for good quality, locally produced beef.”

A more detailed analysis of the BCMS calf registrations data is available in HCC’s latest Market Bulletin on the HCC website.

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