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Glyphosate crisis continues



Farmers wait: On pesticide decision

Farmers wait: On pesticide decision

THOUGH THE EU Commission has announced that it will be attempting to secure an 18 month relicensing approval for glyphosate – the world’s most widely used herbicide which is currently mired in controversy over its possible health impacts – member state ministers who rejected previous licensing proposals from the Commission have stuck to their guns ahead of a planned vote.

Responding to the Commission’s proposed temporary relicensing – pending the findings of a report the EU executive has commissioned from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – French environment minister Segolene Royal said France will not change its mind on glyphosate and will not vote in support of the Commission’s proposal.

Germany’s environment ministry has also confirmed on Twitter that it won’t alter its stance next week. Due to the different positions on glyphosate held by Germany’s environment and agriculture departments (controlled by two different political parties making up the country’s coalition government), officials have said Germany will abstain in any glyphosate vote.


Ministers from Sweden, Italy Portugal and Austria have all expressed opposition to the Commission’s past proposals, backing the published opinion of the World Health Organisation’s cancer research arm IARC on glyphosate; last year, IARC classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, though a subsequent review by EU health watchdog EFSA reached the opposite conclusion, sparking a spat between high ranking scientists from the two agencies.

On Wednesday, Green MEPs in the European Parliament reacted to EFSA’s proposal to make scientific papers which influenced its decision on glyphosate – but were not available to IARC, which operates to strict transparency guidelines – available in a private reading room, which was set up to use for viewing sensitive documents relating to TTIP (the trade deal being brokered between the EU and United States) and tax.

EFSA’s suggestion was made in response to a freedom of information request submitted by four MEPs. The Greens’ spokesperson on the issue, MEP Heidi Hautala, commented: “this culture of radically limited transparency, whereby MEPs can only access a secret room without their phones, laptops and sometimes even pens or paper, should only be applied in extreme cases, and should not be used in response to public access to documents requests”.

The current approval period for glyphosate is set to expire at the end of June. In April, the European Parliament voted to approve a shorter relicensing of glyphosate, but with heavy restrictions on its use – including bans on use in public parks, restricting sales to professionals only and preventing pre-harvest use of glyphosate as a desiccant.

In its latest, temporary proposal the Commission recommends minimising these practices, but does not commit to an outright ban.


Commenting on the temporary renewal plan on Wednesday, EU Greens’ environment and food safety spokesperson Bart Staes stated: “This proposal for a ‘technical extension’ has to be seen as the Commission backing down, after its failure to bulldoze through the re-approval of glyphosate following heavy industry lobbying.

“While it means an eleventh hour reprieve for glyphosate, this is hopefully only temporary and this should be the beginning of the end for this toxic product.”

The NFU has revealed that its vice president Guy Smith has met with EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, who tabled the Commission proposal on Wednesday.

Speaking after a second vote on glyphosate was delayed last month, Mr Smith said: “I am nothing short of exasperated as to why this key herbicide cannot simply and quickly be given the reauthorisation that has been recommended by EFSA – the appropriate EU scientific body.

“Some member states in the committee are prevaricating and wasting time when they could be taking decisions based on scientific evidence. Glyphosate is a pesticide which allows farmers to combat weeds while supporting cultivation methods that can preserve good soil structure. There is no sense behind this delay.”


Green MEP Bart Staes added, “The EU will now have to finalise its assessment of the health risks with glyphosate, both as regards it being a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor. However, glyphosate’s devastating impact on biodiversity should have already led to its ban.

“The significant public mobilisation and political opposition to reapproving glyphosate has been taken seriously by key EU governments and the Commission has been sent back with its tail between its legs.”

He continued: “The whole controversy surrounding the re-approval of glyphosate has revitalised the debate about Europe’s agricultural model and the dependence on toxic substances in the current system.

“This is already starting to filter through the policy-making process, with the Dutch EU presidency having flagged up the debate this week. This opportunity now needs to be seized [in] fundamentally reorienting the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy towards a more sustainable agricultural model.”


In an open letter to EU policymakers and officials on June 3, the NFU wrote: ‘The removal of such a tool carries the very real risk of yet another pressure on our incomes at a time when economic returns are already severely squeezed.

The arable sector will likely be hardest hit through any restrictions, with direct impacts on yields.

‘Loss of availability in the livestock and dairy sectors would result in an inability to tackle invasive and poisonous species in grassland and plant pests and diseases across all farm types.

These effects would directly hit farmers’ margins too. Europe would therefore be at a further disadvantage to other nations, who face no such restrictions, but who we are increasingly trading with.

‘Farmers are being asked the impossible. On one hand farmers are encouraged to improve and compete, yet we have tools that allow us to do so directly threatened with no like-for-like alternatives in place.’

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Staycation boom offers farms new revenue stream



THE NUMBER of working farms looking to cash in on the boom in staycations has sky-rocketed, according to figures from

Of the 2,000 campsites listed on – Europe’s largest outdoor accommodation provider – more than 700 are working farms and 300 of those operate temporary sites, set up to take advantage of the peak holiday season.
Many such sites have joined the business in the first quarter of 2021, eager to secure a post-COVID financial recovery.

The hike comes after a change in planning policy increased the length of time farms and other land-based businesses can legally operate a campsite without planning permission from 28 days to 56 days.

Other factors, discovered, include concerns over falling support payments and Government plans to curtail farming through environmental policies which will disadvantage active farmers.

Dan Yates, founder of, said farmers were turning to temporary campsites in droves because they are the quickest and easiest form of diversification to get off the ground.

He said: “Establishing a campsite is very easy. At their most basic, all you need is a patch of land and running water, which most farms have already, and some toilets, which are easy to hire. Crucially, you don’t need planning permission to operate one for up to 56 days per year.

“With staycations booming and that trend set to stay, people are crying out for beautiful areas of the countryside where they can enjoy a relaxing break away from the pressures of work and lockdown.

“Farmers are perfectly placed to provide that. The farm-based campsites we work with can decide how many guests they want to host and with demand as it is, we are extremely confident we can fill those pitches.”

Mr Yates added that as well as being quick, convenient, and unobtrusive on day-to-day farming operations, pop-up and permanent campsites can be very lucrative.

“Although most campsites don’t generate quite this level of income, even small pop-up sites – which are the easiest by far to accommodate – return on average £13,000 in extra revenue per year, and many take tens of thousands of pounds more than this.

“It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that they’re becoming so popular among farms and land-owning businesses. We expect to see many more farmers try this kind of diversification as we come out of lockdown and the summer gets closer.”

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FUW calls for Welsh policies for Welsh agriculture



THE FUW has urged the incoming Welsh Government to develop bespoke, tailor-made policies that reflect global realities as well as Welsh economic, social, and environmental needs.

Five years ago, ahead of the 2016 Welsh Senedd elections, the Farmers’ Union of Wales warned of the unprecedented challenges facing the incoming Senedd Members and Government. Since then, those challenges have not only materialised but been exacerbated and added to. 

Outlining the big issues facing agriculture in Wales at a press conference, which launched the FUW’s 2021 Welsh Senedd Election Manifesto, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The materialisation of a far harder form of Brexit than had been promised by those who lobbied for our departure from the EU has restricted access to our main export markets on the continent in ways that are only beginning to be felt. 

“At the same time, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives beyond recognition and has highlighted the fragility of global food supply chains and the importance of a strong farming sector on which our domestic markets should be able to rely upon for commodity products.

“While such issues have been largely beyond the control of our devolved administrations, the reaction of the Welsh Government to the uncertainty and challenges faced by our agriculture sector has at times been bewildering and counterintuitive, not least in terms of its appetite for drastically increasing costs and restrictions while advocating untried and untested reforms of rural support policies.”

Meanwhile, UK Government cuts to Welsh rural funding – in a direct contradiction to promises made repeatedly by those who advocated Brexit – have added to the pressures on Welsh agriculture, the rural economy, and Welsh Government, said the Union President.

Through its manifesto and ongoing lobbying work, the FUW continues to be clear that Wales’ family farms lie at the centre of our rural economy, culture, and landscape, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of thousands of businesses involved in the Welsh food supply industry, and making innumerable other contributions to the well-being of Welsh and UK residents – benefits central to which is the production of food, our most precious commodity alongside water.

“Moving forward we need policies which reflect the need to mitigate climate change and protect our environment, but such aspirations must be tempered by the knowledge that sweeping changes that undermine our family farms and food production will merely shift production to countries with lower animal welfare standards and higher global and environmental footprints” said Glyn Roberts.

Highlighting the disappointment of members over the years with the current Welsh Government, Mr Roberts added that rather than feeling that industry concerns have been taken on board and seeing proportionate measures put in place to safeguard the agricultural  industry, many consider the current direction of travel as a betrayal of devolution which directly threatens the agriculture industry and the culture, language and way of life which are intrinsically linked to Welsh food production.

Speaking from his farm in North Wales, he added: “With this in mind, I make no apology for highlighting our members’ frustration about the lack of bespoke Welsh policies regarding future farmingscheme proposals and tackling water quality issues put forward by the current Welsh Government, and the distinct feeling that those who govern us from Cardiff Bay are now more remote from and indifferent to our rural communities than ever.

“Welsh farmers are proud to produce world-leading food to environmental, animal health and welfare and food safety standards that are second to none, but these need to be regulated in a proportionate manner which does not stifle innovation, create unjustified restrictions and place Welsh farmers at a severe competitive disadvantage against other countries’ agricultural produce.” 

Such concerns are particularly pertinent in an era when the UK Government is proactively seeking to sign trade deals with countries with production standards which fall well short of those already required of Welsh food producers, and while the aspiration that further raising standards will provide our producers with a competitive advantage in high-end markets is understandable, it is also naive given what the data tells us about widespread consumer indifference to such standards both here and around the globe.

“Alongside other critical issues and priorities outlined in this manifesto, the FUW urges the incoming Welsh Government and Senedd to develop bespoke, tailor-made policies that reflect such global realities as well as Welsh economic, social and environmental needs and the seven Welsh Well-being Goals; policies that maintain our already high standards while ensuring Welsh producers are not undermined in ways that lead to greater imports of food from those with far lower standards than our own,” said the Union President.

For the period of the next Welsh Senedd and beyond, the FUW is committed to lobbying all those in Cardiff to ensure that agriculture and family farms receive the attention and respect that they warrant – for the sake of all our futures.

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



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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