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Farming

Bale danger warning for Welsh farmers issued by agricultural expert

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AN AGRICULTURAL expert is urging farmers across the country to safeguard lives – and livelihoods – when working with hay and straw bales.

“With barn activity increasing during the winter months, following safety guidelines is paramount,” said Freddie Hamilton-Russell, of rural insurance broker Lycetts.

According to the Health and Safety Executive1, 20 per cent of all agricultural deaths in 2021/22 were due to people being struck by an object, with hay bales being a leading cause.

“In addition to the risks of fatal accidents, failure to observe the stipulated stack and distance limits for haystacks could invalidate insurance cover,” Hamilton-Russell said.

“If stack limits are contravened, such as being too close together, too high or undervalued, farmers face significant shortfalls in the event of loss, such as accidental fire or arson.

“It is imperative that farmers find out if there is a haystack limit defined by value rather than volume. If, for example, a stack with £60,000 worth of hay catches fire, there is a strong chance it exceeds the limit. Often there are distance limits written into policies too, which is usually 20 metres, but this can vary.

“The best way to comply with the terms of a policy is to split stacks and keep them in different locations but checking the policy wording should be the first port of call.

“The stakes are too high and are certainly not worth the gamble.”

Hamilton-Russell also highlighted the critical role of risk management in mitigating the chances of fire.

An abundance of combustible materials, threat of arson, risk of electrical faults in buildings and overheating in machinery are just some of the fire risks farmers face daily.

Hamilton-Russell added: “It can be expensive to replace produce needed to feed livestock through the winter so ensure appropriate insurance is in place for this eventuality.

“We’ve encountered incidents of straw being stored in sheds that have been set alight and both the straw and shed have been underinsured.

To mitigate the risk of spontaneous fires he recommends simple measures, such as ensuring there are no naked bulbs or misplaced glass or mirrors near to haystacks, the installation of sufficient and accessible on-site fire extinguishers and having water bowsers nearby.

“Another risk to consider is that of children gaining entry to a barn and playing among the bales. They could suffer serious – or even fatal – injuries should bales fall.

“Keeping buildings locked and securing and maintaining perimeters can prevent unauthorised entry by children or arsonists.

“Risk management is an often overlooked aspect of farming but taking the necessary precautions can help prevent accidents and financial losses.”

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Farming

Simon Hart calls for a Sustainable Farming Scheme that delivers

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FURTHER delays to the introduction of new farming subsidies in Wales have met with a cautious welcome.

Following widespread protests from farmers, Welsh Labour Rural Affairs Secretary, Huw Irranca-Davies, has announced the Sustainable Farming Scheme will now be put on hold until 2026.

The decision has been welcomed by former Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP. The candidate for Caerfyrddin says the Welsh government must now work closely with farmers – and not against them.

He said: “We are told this decision shows the Plaid Cymru / Welsh Labour Cooperation administration is listening to farmers concerns. In my opinion, they should have been listening to them from the get-go and these proposals should never have been included by Plaid Cymru as part of their co-operation agreement.

“Whilst I appreciate this pause gives the Welsh government more time to get this vital scheme right, it also prolongs uncertainty in an industry that is at the very heart of our economy.

“We now need to see real progress, with the Plaid Cymru / Welsh Labour cooperators working at pace, alongside people who know the industry, to deliver a scheme that brings real benefits to our farmers.”

After a series of delays, the Sustainable Farming System was meant to come into operation in April 2025.

Rules that meant 10% of land needed to be covered by woodland and 10% earmarked for wildlife habitat caused widespread protests and led to claims that 5,000 jobs could be lost from the industry.

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Farming

PAS launches search for farm employees deserving Long Service Awards

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FARM and estate workers from Pembrokeshire, who have been employed on the land for 25 years or more, can be nominated for the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society’s Farm Employee Long Service Award 2024.

The President and Trustees of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society wish to offer inscribed Awards to both male and female workers who have not received a Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society Farm Employee Long Service Award previously.

There were two recipients for the inscribed Awards at last year’s County Show: Darran Davies from Scleddau, Fishguard and Richard Davies from Treffgarn Owen, Haverfordwest.

The 2024 Long Service Awards presentation will take place on Wednesday, 14 August at 4pm, in the President’s Pavilion at the Pembrokeshire County Show and the Award recipient and guest will receive complimentary entry tickets to the show.

Adam Thorne, President of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society said, “It gives us great pleasure as a Society to reward those who have been employed for such a significant amount of time by one employer in the county. We recognise what an achievement this is and it deserves an award. We are very much looking forward to receiving applications for this year’s Long Service Award. The decision of the committee will be final.”

Conditions of the Award being given are:

1. The recipient must, on the first day of the Annual Show, have been in service for 25 years on the same farm continuously, or continuously in the service of the same employer within Pembrokeshire.   

2. The employer must be a member of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society for the present year.

For those eligible to apply please complete the online application form and return it by 31 July 2024. If you are unable to complete the form online please contact the Show office on: 01437 764331. To apply online please click here: Long Service Award | Pembrokeshire County Show | Pembs Agricultural Society (pembsshow.org)

Pembrokeshire County Show, the largest county agricultural show in Wales, will take place on 14 and 15 August 2024. Earlybird e-tickets and Society membership details are available on the website: www.pembsshow.org

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Farming

Rural expert urges communities to help bolster farmers’ mental wellbeing

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A RURAL insurance expert is calling on Welsh residents to step up their support for local farmers, amid growing concerns over their mental health.

Freddie Hamilton-Russell of rural insurance broker Lycetts has issued his appeal during Mental Health Awareness Week, when the spotlight turns to the pressures faced by different sectors of the community.

For farmers, the combination of economic instability, market volatility, red tape, a changing subsidy regime and climate change not only threatens their livelihoods but also risks impacting their mental wellbeing.

“Farming is not just a business, it’s a way of life that demands resilience in the face of the myriad of evolving challenges,” said Hamilton-Russell.

“But even the most mentally resilient can struggle under the weight of financial and economic uncertainty. It’s important that residents support the local agricultural sector to help keep their rural communities alive.”

Hamilton-Russell highlighted several ways in which people can make a difference.

“Minor changes in shopping habits can make a big difference,” he said. “From buying local farm produce to help ensure farmers have a steady income to patronising local restaurants that champion local fare.”

In recent years, many farmers have been thrust into diversified enterprises in a bid to survive – from farm shops, cafes and glamping sites to B&Bs, wedding venues and petting farms.

“Residents can help support these new ventures, not only by visiting them, but also by promoting them to friends, family, colleagues and on their social media channels,” Hamilton-Russell added.

“In addition, our Welsh farmers also need access to mental health resources that address the unique pressures of the farming sector and wider agricultural communities.

“Organisations such as RABI (The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) provide an invaluable service to UK farmers, helping them become more resilient and better able to cope with future challenges.

“By fostering awareness and advocating for such dedicated services, we can help safeguard the mental health of our farming community.

“Every individual can contribute to this cause. Whether it’s choosing to buy local, spreading the word about rural enterprises or supporting mental health initiatives, your actions can make a profound difference.”

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