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Farming

WG won’t act to help tenant farmers

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UNSCRUPULOUS landowners are attempting to evict farm tenants to regain possession of land let under Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies for tree planting purposes.


TFA Cymru reports that some landowners, in an effort to cash in on Welsh Government subsidies are trying to use a procedural trick to force tenants off productive farmland.


And it looks like the Welsh Government proposes to do nothing to stop them.


The Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 allows a landlord to use what is called a Case B notice to quit on a tenant if the landlord has gained planning permission for non-agricultural use of the land.


However, tree planting does not require planning permission and therefore a Case B notice to quit cannot be validly served by a landlord who intends to plant trees on the land which is subject to the notice.


TFA Rural Surveyor, Caroline Squire, said “We are seeing a lot of instances where landlords are attempting to resume land for tree planting by using Case B notices. Tenants are not able to contest these notices, so they are quite frightening when they arrive.


“However, tenants can ask for the notice to quit to be referred to arbitration to determine that it is an ineligible notice.


“It is critically important that the notice demanding arbitration is served by the tenant within one month of the date of the landlord’s notice to quit. Failure to respond within the deadline will render the landlords notice valid.


“The only circumstance in which a Case B notice to quit for tree planting might be valid is if the tree planting was ancillary to a development which had planning permission – for example, if there was planning permission for a timber processing facility and the land around it was required to grow timber to be used within that facility.


“Similarly, a landscaping requirement for a housing development might also fall within scope. However, straight tree planting without a co

nnected change of use confirmed by a planning consent will always be out of scope for case B,” said Caroline.


We asked the Welsh Government what steps it was taking NOW to protect tenant farmers’ rights and prevent the abuse of the notice system by rogue landlords.


We also ask what further steps, if any, it proposes to ensure tenants have increased security, tenant farms remain viable, and productive farmland is not destroyed in the pursuit of a subsidy.


And the answer to those questions was “not much”.


A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We encourage tenants in receipt of Case B notices to seek immediate advice from a relevant professional, such as the Tenant Farmers Association, and act within the statutory deadlines.”


They continued to offer even less than “not much”: “We need to plant 86 million trees by the end of this decade if we are to meet NetZero carbon emissions by 2050.


“Properly managed, this also offers a considerable opportunity to the rural economy to create green jobs and skills in harvesting timber for high-value goods.


“We want to work with Welsh farmers and landowners to achieve this.”


In short, the Welsh Government will do nothing to address any current problems and prefers planting trees to food production.


Local MS Sam Kurtz, the Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, said: “This is an alarming situation and one that deserves serious action from the Welsh Government.


 “We already know that Welsh farmers are facing unprecedented pressure from foreign investors to sell off their land for tree planting. If that wasn’t enough, it now appears their attention has shifted to landlords – and so, putting further stress and strain on our tenant farmers.


“The Welsh Government must take serious and immediate action, and not wait for the introduction of the new farming support schemes. It is they who have created the lucrative woodland creation project. Except, it’s not Wales’s farming community who are benefitting from these projects, neither are the people of Wales.


“If we see the landscape of Welsh farms cut up, sold off, and diminished in favour of mass afforestation, then so too we will see the demise of Wales’s rural communities and economies.”

Farming

Pembrokeshire County Show returns to Haverfordwest in August

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WALES’ largest agricultural show, which attracts around 100,000 visitors and competitors to the county town of Haverfordwest is back this year after a two-year Covid enforced break.

Pembrokeshire County Show will take place on August 17 and 18, the first open to the public since 2019 it promises to be a celebration of rural life in the county.

The last full-scale show, which would normally attract around 100,000 visitors and competitors, was held in August 2019 followed by a virtual event in 2020 and a scaled down version in 2021 for animals and members only.

Mansel Raymond, Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society president said, “We are very excited about the prospect of seeing our wonderful members, competitors, trade stands, sponsors and community coming together once again this August.

“Whether you’re a Pembrokeshire local or just visiting we’re sure you’ll have a fantastic day out.”

There will be some changes this year to the layout of the County Show to make it a better experience for everyone including the trade stands and visitors.

There will be several smaller rings as was the case in the 2021 members only show.

To enable a much larger public viewing area it has also been decided to remove all marquees and trade stands from the immediate main ringside.

This year there will also be a new open air ‘street food’ area. To enable a smooth transition, it is recommended that all trade and catering stands secure their pitches as soon as possible by visiting www.pembsshow.org or ringing 01437 764 331.

Sponsorship and Pembrokeshire County Show have been a successful combination for the last 45 years.

Sponsors have enjoyed promoting their businesses through the varied mediums of banners, announcements, show rings, buildings, equine and livestock classes and championships over the years.

Anyone interested in sponsorship can contact Richard Cole on 01437 764 331 or complete the form on the society’s website.

Tickets for society members and the public will go on sale in the near future. Visit www.pembsshow.org for up-to-date details of this year’s event. You can also follow Pembrokeshire County Show on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Farming

Spotlight on ammonia reduction strategies for Welsh poultry producers

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A WELSH study has refocused attention on strategies for reducing ammonia emissions in the poultry sector, with farmers urged to adopt measures including good ventilation and litter and manure management protocols to lower levels.

A three-year European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Wales trial on two broiler farms looked specifically at the role additives may have in reducing emissions by improving gut health and flock performance.

The study produced no evidence that these were effective for this purpose – similar levels of ammonia were recorded in the control and treatment houses.

But project manager Jason Gittins, technical director for livestock at ADAS, says there are a number of other measures that farmers can put in place to tackle emissions.

Ammonia is a component of urea, which is excreted in poultry faeces; when that manure is exposed to air and to moisture, the gas is released.

Agriculture is a major source of ammonia, accounting for 87% of UK emissions in 2019; of this, 14% came from poultry production.

“Ammonia gas is a harmful gas to both poultry and poultry workers and excessive nitrogen deposition resulting from ammonia emissions also damages the environment,’’ warns Mr Gittins.

Here, he gives his advice on how poultry farmers can reduce those emissions.

Ventilation

Poorly ventilated sheds will result in wet litter, which allows more ammonia to be released into the air. The use of effective ventilation to optimise the in-house environment, and preventing condensation can increase litter dry matter content and so reduce ammonia emissions.

Indirect heating systems heat the shed without the additional carbon dioxide and water vapour produced by direct gas heating systems, Mr Gittins explains.

“As a result, litter condition is often drier, which makes conditions less favourable for the production of ammonia,’’ he points out.

Ammonia scrubbing systems

These systems typically pass exhaust air from the house through a liquid to capture the ammonia; the air released to the atmosphere then has a lower ammonia content. Mr Gittins says reports have indicated that reductions in ammonia emissions of around 80% are possible using scrubbing systems, but the capital and operating costs are high.

Correct diet formulation

Diets should be formulated based on amino acid requirements, rather than crude protein, Mr Gittins advises.

“Diet formulation should change throughout the flock cycle to ensure that the nutrient supply is closely matched to the birds’ ammonia acid and other nutrient requirements.’’

Improvements in feed utilisation and feed conversion ratio (FCR) provide both environmental and financial benefits.

Correct removal and storage of soiled bedding

Manures should be contained in covered stores on impermeable surfaces. If field heaps are used, the surface area should be as small as possible: ‘A’ shaped, as this will reduce emissions, says Mr Gittins.

“A key issue is that wet poultry manure and litter can lead to higher emissions of ammonia and so the priority is to keep them as dry as possible, both during housing and afterwards.

“This can also increase its value per tonne as a fertiliser and reduce haulage costs and odour risks.’’

Manure applications should follow normal good practice, he adds.

“This should include avoiding spreading during frost, snow and heavy rain and taking account of soil conditions at the time.

“For liquid organic manures, precision spreading methods are preferable to splash-plate systems.’’

In free-range egg production, the move to multi-tier systems, rather than single-tier, is consistent with reducing ammonia, because of belt clean-out and frequent manure removal.

Preventing puddling around drinkers

Keeping litter dry is key to reducing ammonia levels. Drinkers should be managed to prevent spillages – any leaks need to be identified and quickly resolved.

“Nipple drinker systems should be adopted, as these allow better management of water intake and reduce water wastage,’’ Mr Gittins recommends.

High bird health

Keeping the health status of birds high will help to maintain litter in a drier condition.

“Birds challenged with disease and in poor health often produce wetter manure, which can result in higher ammonia emissions,’’ says Mr Gittins.

EIP Wales, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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Farming

Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society Board of Trustees ‘delighted to win Volunteering Award’

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PEMBROKESHIRE Agricultural Society’s Board of Trustees were delighted to receive an award from PAVS (Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services) recently for their determination to hold the county show last year.

PAVS formally presented the Trustee Award from the 2021 Pembrokeshire Volunteering Awards to the category winners, Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society, at the Society’s recent AGM.

The award judges were astounded by the determination of Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society’s Board of Trustees to put on last year’s two-day county show in incredibly challenging circumstances in order to give members of the rural community the chance to come together and showcase their animals.

The judges also noted how the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society had ensured that support for farmers and their families was available through the presence of various charities who work to provide services for the rural community.

Lee Hind, Pembrokeshire Community Hub Manager, presented the award which was supported by South Hook LNG. He said, “Congratulations to Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society on winning this well-deserved award. As well as your determination to put on the two-day show last year the judges were particularly impressed by your innovative partnership with Connecting Realities which saw the event filmed and live streamed into care homes via YouTube, allowing access to those who were unable to leave their homes.”

Mike Davies, Chairman of Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society’s Board of Trustees said, “We are delighted that our efforts have been recognised by the judges who felt we were worthy winners of the Trustee Award. We have had to rely on the goodwill of our volunteers during the past two years and they have worked hard so the county showground can come back stronger in the future.”

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