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Farming

Who is profiting from Welsh lamb?

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Lamb producers: Suffering as seasonal prices plunge

Lamb producers: Suffering as
seasonal prices plunge

LATEST figures show that while the retail price of lamb for consumers is lower in the spring of 2015, compared to the spring of 2014, it has not fallen anywhere near as much as the farmer’s share of that retail price which has dropped from 60 per cent to 50 per cent over the past year.

Speaking following a meeting of the NFU Cymru Livestock Board, Lyndon Edwards, said: “Lower retail prices would help bolster demand for lamb, but consumers aren’t seeing as much of a drop in price as farmers are, which begs the question – who is profiting from lamb? Our farm-gate price of lamb is reaching critically low levels. Whilst we recognise that trading conditions are tough, as the strength of sterling and the Eurozone crisis impacts negatively on our export markets, we are called to see that whilst the price we are receiving for our lambs has slumped that this price crash is not being reflected in the price on the shelves. Farmers need a sustainable price for their product that encourages them to invest in future production, returns must be delivered to everyone throughout the supply chain so that the consumer can continue to enjoy and savour PGI Welsh lamb in years to come. We know the challenges we all face in boosting lamb consumption here in the UK but I am confident that this can be achieved by giving in season PGI Welsh lamb pride of place on retail shelves and promoting our fantastic product this summer.”

Mr Edwards ended: “Members of our livestock board have been carrying out our own store watch in recent days visiting retail stores across Wales to find out who is showing commitment to Welsh lamb. Whilst there are retailers out there who are very supportive of Welsh lamb we have to say how appalled we are that in the first week of July we continue to see so much importedproductstillavailableonretail shelves in many stores. Individually we have complained to local store managers and as a Union we are using every available opportunity to raise our concerns with the agricultural teams and directors and we will continue to do so in the coming weeks.”

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has warned that the fall in lamb prices, drastically reduced farm incomes and frustrations over the volume of imported lamb on supermarket shelves means farmer anger is reaching boiling point.

“Lamb prices have fallen drastically over recent weeks, with prices down by around 20 percent compared with the same period last year,” said FUW livestock, wool and marts committee chairman Dafydd Roberts. “Such falls come against a background of predicted falls in net hill and lowland livestock farm incomes of 41 and 24%.”

Mr Roberts said the volumes of imported lamb, which continue to appear on supermarket shelves, added insult to injury for farmers who had seen a fall in live-weight new season lamb prices of around 35p/Kg during June.

“The FUW has highlighted the need for an increase in farm-gate prices for all commodities during meetings with supermarkets over recent months, and the current plight of the industry was reiterated in a meeting with deputy minister Rebecca Evans last week. We will continue to draw attention to the need for fair farm-gate returns in meetings with bodies involved in the supply chain during the Royal Welsh show,” he added.

Mr Roberts said that while there was an ongoingfocusonfarmers cutting costs and become more efficient, there was widespread feeling that those further down the supply chain were not meeting their side of the bargain by showing the type of commitment to Welsh produce promised during the horsemeat scandal.

“As people struggle to pay bills and face up to the prospect of further falls in CAP support, tempers are beginning to fray and action needs to be taken to restore confidence,” he added.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Agriculture Minister, Llyr Gruffydd AM, has called on the Welsh Government to take urgent steps to protect Welsh farmers as price of Welsh produce continues to plummet.

Lamb prices have dropped by around 20 per cent compared with the same period last year as total farm income continues to plummet. The price of liveweight new season lamb fell by around 35p/Kg in June 2015.

The news comes just a few days after milk buyer, First Milk announced a further 1ppl cut to its standard litre price, meaning the majority of Welsh dairy farmers will be receiving milk prices far below the cost of production.

The Party of Wales’ Shadow Agriculture Minister, Llyr Gruffydd AM, said: “Supporting our farmers is a matter of increasing urgency and it is imperative that the Welsh Government steps in which is why Plaid Cymru will be holding a debate next week in the Senedd which will call on the government to utilise the Rural Development Programme to provide immediate support for those most affected and to protect farmers from the volatility of the global markets by strengthening domestic supply chains.

“If this isn’t a message to supermarkets, I don’t know what is. They have a duty of care to their suppliers and they need to recognise that the sector is struggling. We need leadership from the Welsh Government to ensure that supermarkets step in and support their suppliers. When the boot was on the other foot during the horsemeat scandal the suppliers stood by the supermarkets – it is now incumbent on the supermarkets to show the same loyalty.

“The public sector also needs to set an example and ensure as much of its produce is sourced from within Wales as possible and we needn’t look very far to see what needs to be done. Gwynedd council has led by example, sourcing 100 per cent of its school meals contracts from within Gwynedd or the surrounding region whereas Anglesey council over the bridge spends its whole school meals budget in Reading.

“Welsh farmers have been suffering for too long with seemingly perpetual cuts to farm-gate prices coupled with the slashing of their subsidy payments by the Welsh Government. It is imperative that the Welsh Government shows leadership in turning the situation around.”

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Farming

Pembrokeshire estate to auction pedigree Hereford Cattle

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A PEMBROKESHIRE estate is set to auction its herd of pedigree Hereford cattle. Nearly 150 animals from the Hean Castle Estate in Saundersfoot are listed for a forthcoming dispersal sale, prompted by a change in the estate’s farming business.

The Hean Herd, an iconic sight on the estate since its introduction in 2012, replaced the farm’s award-winning dairy enterprise. The estate’s Home Farm is also being offered for letting, either as a whole or in separate lots.

This announcement was made by Hean Castle Estate this week in a Facebook post, which followers described as “sad news”.

A spokesperson for the estate commented: “We announce with great sadness that, following a strategic review of the estate’s farming business, the decision has been taken to cease the in-hand business, resulting in the dispersal of the ‘Hean’ Herd.”

The dispersal sale of the herd will take place on the farm on Saturday, 24th August.

The estate said on Facebook:” It is with great sadness that, following a strategic review of the Estate’s farming business, the decision has been taken to cease the in-hand business resulting in the dispersal of the ‘Hean’ Herd.

“A catalogue with full details will be published in due course, however the Dispersal sale will be held on Saturday 24th August, on the farm, and will be conducted by Mr Jonny Dymond BSc (Hons) FLAA of Messrs Halls Holdings Ltd

“The sale will comprise the following lots:

– 64 Spring Calved Cows and Heifers, with Calves at foot.

– 16 In-calf Cows due 1st September onwards.

– 6 In-calf Heifers due 1st September onwards.

– 29 Spring ’23 born Heifers running with Bulls for Spring ’25 calving.

– 20 Spring ’23 born Heifers, free of the Bull.

– 12 Autumn ’23 born Heifers

– 5 Stock Bulls.

– 22 Embryos.

“The Stock Bulls, a small selection of promising Bull Calves and all the Females are registered, and the remaining Bull Calves notified, with the Hereford Cattle Society.

“The Herd is FAWL Farm Assured, High Health Certified by Biobest and has Gold Standard Gwardu BVD Certification, is accredited free of BVD & IBR, and is vaccinated against Leptospirosis and Blackleg. Tested Clear for TB 18/07/24.

“Online Bidding for the sale will be available via MartEye.

“For further information, please contact David Burnhill, Herd Manager. (07483) 150253.”

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Farming

National Grid issue safety plea of ‘look out, look up’ to Welsh farmers

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DURING Farm Safety Week (22 – 26 July) and the Royal Welsh Show (22 – 25 July), Welsh farmers are being urged to ‘look out, look up’, and stay safe around electrical equipment to avoid the risk of accidents.

Every year, National Grid Electricity Distribution – the electricity operator for South Wales, the Midlands and South West – is called to incidents in which farm vehicles have collided with overhead power lines. It is estimated that at least one agricultural accident involving overhead lines is reported every day in the UK.

One of these reports was at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, when a harvester collided with a high voltage conductor, leaving the overhead line on the ground. After being made safe, the conductor was re-erected at an increased height to make sure farm machinery could pass safely underneath the power line. No one was injured.

At a farm in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, emergency repairs had to be carried out to overhead lines and conductors after a tractor hit an electricity pole. No one was injured.

As farm machinery continues to increase in size, the distance between equipment and nearby power lines is at risk of reducing, meaning that accidents could be more likely.

Paul Woodward, Safety Manager for National Grid Electricity Distribution, said:

“Every year, our engineers and technicians are called to incidents involving farming equipment and overhead power lines.

“Accidents involving the electricity supply can have devastating consequences, so it’s really important that the farmers ‘look out’ and ‘look up’ – particularly when working with big or heavy machinery.

“We are committed to ensuring that farm workers have the knowledge and resources they need to get home safe every day, and will continue to work with farming communities in South Wales and across the country to reduce incidents involving our power lines.”

As part of National Grid’s farm safety campaign, the operator has outlined five simple steps to ensure farmers stay safe when working close to power lines:

Never raise elevating equipment, such as spray booms, cabbage harvesters and trailer bodies, under or close to overhead power lines.
Never store or move materials under, or close to, overhead power lines, as this reduces the safe clearance distance beneath the overhead lines.
Know the maximum reach and height of any vehicle you are operating, and be vigilant when using GPS – accidents can still happen.
You cannot see electricity – the area around a fallen line, including the soil, equipment and other objects, could be live – so stay away.
If contact is made with a power line, farm workers are advised to stay in the cab and try to drive clear. If that is not possible, the driver should stay in the cab and telephone 105, only leaving the machine in an emergency. When leaving the vehicle, they should take care not to hold the machine and touch the ground at the same time, and take leaping strides so one foot is clear from the ground at all times – or ‘bunny hop’ away with both feet kept together.
Farmers are also encouraged to use the ‘What3Words’ app, which allows farmers to pinpoint the exact location of an incident. This means that network engineers can isolate the power in seconds using remote technology, therefore reducing the risk of accidents and threat to life.

National Grid will be at the Royal Welsh Show all week offering safety advice and giving out stickers to put in the cab of vehicles with a reminder of how to stay safe when working near power lines.

Farmers can find out more about National Grid’s safety advice and access additional resources at National Grid – Farming safety.

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Farming

The importance of keeping children safe on farms

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WALES Farm Safety Partnership, alongside Lantra Cymru has created a new e-learning course. ‘Children on Farms’ will give you guidance on keeping children safe on your farm during the upcoming summer holidays.

This course, taking roughly 45 minutes to complete, provides participants with the knowledge and tools to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for the whole family.

The course covers a wide range of child safety topics on the farm, including legal responsibilities, vehicle safety (tractors, ATVs), preventing falls, and managing hazards around equipment and harmful substances. It also emphasises the importance of creating a farm safety checklist.

Kevin Thomas Lantra Wales Director said; “Lantra understand the importance of children on family farms and fully support the need for the next generation to have a keen interest on the day-to-day workings of the farm, but it must be done with safety in mind. Lantra are fully committed to farm safety, especially for children, which is why Lantra have made this course free for everyone to complete”.

This timely resource is perfect for busy farmers who want to be proactive about child safety before the summer break.

A toolkit on child safety has also been created to underline the safety of children on farms.

Farms can be a dangerous place for children. Young children need a safe play area separate from the work zones, and for older children (under 16), any visit to the work area must be planned, closely supervised by an adult that’s not working, and for educational purposes.

Everyone in a farm work place has a responsibility to protect children who are vulnerable because of their age and physical and mental immaturity.

Vehicles and machinery present the greatest risk to children and are probably the areas of farm life most attractive to older children.

Meleri Jones, Farming Connect’s Health and Safety Coordinator, says “It’s important to keep safety in mind when children are on farm – you don’t want to live with regret.”

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