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Farming

Australia trade deal risks the displacement of UK food production

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THE FUW repeated its concerns about the current Australia trade deal and its impacts on UK agriculture when giving evidence to the Welsh Senedd‘s Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee.

Speaking at the evidence session, FUW Senior Policy and Communications Officer Gareth Parry said:

“There’s a natural concern that the full liberalisation of the trading of agricultural goods does risk the displacement of Welsh and UK food production.”

Mr Parry told the committee that although the UK Government impact assessment implies an estimated loss of gross output for Wales’s beef and sheep sectors of £29 million, this needs to be considered in the context that the UK-Australia deal is likely to set a precedent for future trade deals.

“The cumulative effect that we would expect from trade deals with countries such as New Zealand and others within the CPTPP means that that £29 million then becomes much greater, in the longer term at least.”

Mr Parry further highlighted that there’s also the potential for trade deals such as this to impose further barriers on UK exports to the EU, particularly when considering the differences in production standards between the UK and Australia. 

“Although a number of UK products enter niche and specialist high-end markets, we need to be realistic and consider how important mainstream commodity markets are. Even for those producers who aim for such high-end markets, there will always be a proportion of those products or carcases that enter mainstream markets, such as our red meat export market in the EU.”

Mr Parry said that inherent to an increase in food imports as a result of this deal would also be a reduction in the UK’s food security, either through the displacement of our UK production or through an increased reliance on food produced thousands of miles away, and that the UK Government’s own figures confirmed this was likely.

Drawing attention to the timescale of potential impacts, Mr Parry stressed that:

“If we look over the last ten years, we’ve seen much lower prices for beef and sheep in Australia, and that’s been evident in how much Australia has filled their quotas in the past. Australia is currently relying heavily on the Chinese market, and there’s always the potential for that market to close overnight. So, although we may not see these potential impacts in the near future, there is of course the likelihood of those impacts being harder felt in the long term,” he said.

Mr Parry further added that:

”There’s been a big focus and a lot of effort going into signing trade deals such as this one with Australia since we left the EU, rather than improving and making the current UK-EU trade deal more efficient.

“We have seen a 25 per cent reduction in our sheep meat exports to the EU since the introduction of post-Brexit checks and bureaucracy at borders, so there are obviously improvements to be made in terms of our current trading arrangements with the EU, which we mustn’t forget is our biggest export market for UK red meat.”

Mr Parry additionally stressed that the UK and Welsh Governments need to postpone the introduction of any additional red tape that could further undermine the agricultural industry at home.

“Additional red tape in any form, whether it’s livestock transport regulations, the NVZ regulations, or anything else that would put our producers at a further disadvantage compared to our competitors in countries such as Australia, has to be avoided,” he added.

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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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