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Farming

NFU Cymru opposes ammonia proposals

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NFU CYMRU has strongly opposed proposed changes to Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) Ammonia Screening Guidance, citing the proposals will have far-reaching and damaging consequences for farm businesses.
NRW’s Ammonia Screening Guidance provides guidance to farmers on how the regulator expects assessments of the impact of ammonia emissions from developments that emit ammonia to be carried out for permit and planning applications.
DEFRA is also consulting on reducing ammonia emissions from farms. It says its statutory obligations to restore degraded habitats and to reduce ammonia emissions by 8% by 2020 and by 16% by 2030 means DEFRA must act urgently to tackle the issue.
Ammonia emissions are predominantly from agriculture (87%) and around 8% are from the use of solid urea fertilisers. The DEFRA consultation set out three policy options to provide the greatest ammonia emission reductions from regulating the use or sale of solid urea fertilisers. 
DEFRA is considering an outright ban on those fertilisers’ use.
In the NRW consultation, that closed earlier this week, NRW proposes sweeping new changes including the application of the guidance to all developments emitting ammonia – previously the guidance has been applied to intensive farming operations, as well as the requirement to prove ‘no harm’ to ammonia sensitive species outside designated sites such as SSSIs.
NFU Cymru is clear the proposed changes to the guidance if implemented would result in many more developments being brought into the screening process with requirements to undertake detailed and costly assessments of the potential impact of ammonia and nitrogen, and with developments blocked where stringent tests of ‘no harm’ cannot be met.  The union has also warned that the proposals are likely to have detrimental consequences on farmers wishing to develop, diversify, improve their environmental performance and achieve compliance with the regulation in Wales moving forward.
Commenting on the proposals, NFU Cymru Deputy President Aled Jones said: “NFU Cymru recognises the role of farming and is committed to working with government and partners to reach sustainable ammonia emissions in line with targets. However, NRW’s proposed approach is likely to put constraints and limitations on farm development, threatening future viability at what is a critical time for the industry.
“We have expressed concern to NRW over their failure to consider the wider economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of proposals on rural Wales. We are disappointed that NRW has failed to publish the costs and benefits of its proposed approach. This is despite the fact that the Regulators’ Code clearly states before changing policies, practices or service standards, regulators should consider the impact on business.
“Perversely the proposals, as they stand, will work directly against NRW’s own objectives of improving the environment. In effect, the proposed new Ammonia Screening Guidance is likely to place further barriers to new farm infrastructure projects on Welsh farms including for replacement livestock housing and slurry/manure storage – even where this is required to achieve compliance with regulation and where such infrastructure delivers clear environmental benefits in terms of air and water quality. This is unacceptable and we have urged NRW to look again at its proposals.
“NFU Cymru is also disappointed that the consultation focuses exclusively on livestock production and does nothing to address ammonia sources from other non-agricultural sectors.”
Concluding, Mr Jones said: “NFU Cymru is clear that policies to improve air quality should enable our ambitions for the future of Welsh farming.  Policies should facilitate, and not hinder, the development of farm businesses in Wales to enable them to continue to deliver their key role producing food for our nation so that we do not see food production off-shored to other parts of the world where production standards are less sustainable.”
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Farming

Managing Director for new Pembrokeshire creamery announced

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PEMBROKESHIRE CREAMERY LTD, the West Wales-based business currently building a new state of the art liquid milk processing facility in Haverfordwest, has appointed Mark McQuade as managing director.

Mark brings extensive dairy industry experience from previous roles as operations director of McQueen’s Dairy, national accounts director of Muller Wiseman Dairies and as an executive board director of First Milk.

Pembrokeshire Creamery Ltd will have the capacity to bottle more than a million litres of milk a week in its initial phase and gives UK supermarkets the opportunity to offer their Welsh customers milk that is both sourced and bottled in Wales rather than being driven to England for processing which is currently the case.

By removing the need for Welsh milk to be transported to bottling plants in England, Pembrokeshire Creamery will be able to reduce food miles, increase supply chain efficiency, create new skilled jobs and support local farming communities.

Mark commented: “I am very excited to be joining the team in Pembrokeshire. We aim to be the only BRC Certified facility to offer Welsh milk that is also bottled in Wales, and as such, the new facility has huge potential. I know from having worked with Pembrokeshire dairy farmers in previous roles that this is a fantastic milk field in which to build an authentically Welsh milk supply for Welsh supermarket stores.”

Huw Thomas, CEO of Puffin Produce and Pembrokeshire Creamery board member added:

“We are delighted that Mark has agreed to join Pembrokeshire Creamery as he brings with him rich industry knowledge and experience which will help accelerate our growth ambitions.”

Construction work began in November and the plant will be fully operational by the Autumn of 2023.

Pembrokeshire Creamery Ltd has also announced a multi-million pound contract with Sycamore Process Engineering to design, manufacture and install the milk processing equipment.

Paul Manning, project director at Sycamore Process Engineering said: “We bring more than 30 years of experience in the dairy, food, and beverage industry and a strong focus on sustainability, ensuring our process solutions are energy efficient, and promoting the best OPEX with minimal product wastage. We’re working closely with Pembrokeshire Creamery to develop a top of line processing facility which meets their current needs and can expand with them as the business grows in future.”

Other businesses contracted to the construction phase include DKAN for ground works, Morgans of Usk for the steel frame and ABS Elbrow for cladding.

The development of Pembrokeshire Creamery has been supported by the Welsh Government and the EU RDP-funded Food Business Investment Scheme. Additional funding has been supplied by HSBC.

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Farming

Calls on Welsh Government to address Pembrokeshire rural poverty

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PLAID CYMRU member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales, Cefin Campbell, has renewed calls for the Welsh Government to commit to developing a strategy to address rural poverty in Wales.

Mr Campbell’s calls follow recent figures, published by Loughborough University on behalf of the End Child Poverty Coalition that showed Pembrokeshire had the highest child poverty rate of any local authority in Wales – with 35.5% of children living in poverty.

Challenging the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, to commit to developing a focused strategy on addressing rural poverty, Mr Campbell also highlighted wider challenges within rural communities that contributed towards a pattern of “entrenched poverty” over the course of many years and generations.

Commenting Cefin Campbell MS said: “The true extent of rural poverty is often masked by the relative affluence of some rural areas and a wider culture of self-reliance within our rural communities.

Rural communities across Pembrokeshire face many unique pressures that have contributed towards a pattern of long-term entrenched poverty. These include poor access to public transport, patchy public service provision, a lack of affordable housing, and relatively low incomes and high prices. Sadly, the developing cost-of-living crisis over recent months has merely exacerbated these factors and plunged many households into further financial hardship and uncertainty.”

Previous research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that most rural households typically spend 10-20% more on everyday goods and services compared to those living in more urban areas. A recent report by Sustrans Cymru also emphasised that people living in rural areas of Wales are some of the worst affected by transport poverty – with households likely to spend more than 10% of its income on the costs of running a car.

Such financial pressures were further emphasised with research from the Bevan Foundation, published last year, finding that a typical worker in Pembrokeshire is a belt-tightening £346 a month worse off than a typical UK worker.

Cefin Campbell MS added: “The hardship being faced by Wales’ rural communities is a wake-up call – and inaction in addressing such rural poverty may very well become Welsh Labour’s legacy in Wales.

It’s time the Welsh Government committed to better identifying the many unique and exclusive factors that contribute towards this rural poverty, and work with stakeholders to bring together a strategy and vision to better empower and aid these communities”.

Speaking in response to Mr Campbell’s calls for a specific rural poverty strategy, First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “I recognise that there are certain factors that are unique to people living in rural areas, and I can agree with what the Member said. It is sometimes difficult to identify poverty in some of our rural communities. Of course, every part of Wales is facing a challenge at the moment—whether you live in the Valleys, in the centre of Cardiff, there are unique challenges in all parts of Wales. I can tell the Member that a plan will be drawn up. The Minister for Social Justice is currently working on practical steps that we can take to help, particularly in the area of child poverty.”

Calling for action: Cefin Campbell MS (Image file)
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Farming

Trial for Pembrokeshire farmer who denies breaking ban on keeping animals

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A CONTROVERSIAL Pembrokeshire farmer who was disqualified from keeping animals indefinitely will face a trial today (Jan 18) at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court.

The whole day has been set aside for the case.

He is charged with breaching a court order by keeping lovebirds, dogs and tortoises.

Sean Ronald Burns, age 52, of Bramble Hall Farm, Ferry Lane, Pembroke Dock, was given a 20-week prison sentence on February 13, 2020. He was banned indefinitely from keeping animals, this includes having any involvement or influence over the care or welfare of animals.

The farm has been subject to a number of raids with many animals being confiscated (Image: M Cavaney/Herald)

The sentence followed a trial in which Burns was found guilty of illegal dog breeding. He had previously admitted 13 animal welfare charges.

In September 2020 he received a suspended prison sentence, alongside two other men for his part in the production of smokies at Bramble Hall Farm.

In November, Burns, 52, denied three charges of breaching a disqualification after conviction.

He is accused of keeping tortoises, love birds and dogs at Bramble Hall Farm and another address in Pembroke between January 26, 2022, and July 11, 2022, contrary to the animal welfare act.

He appeared in front of Llanelli Magistrates Court on Thursday, December 15, for a pre-trial hearing.

Burns’ farm was dubbed the “Farm of horrors”

Police sealed off the farm as protests mounted against the treatment of animals (Image M Cavaney/Herald)
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