FUW welcomes extension to free BVD testing in Wales

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the news that free BVD testing for cattle farmers in Wales has been extended until 31 March 2021. 

The testing, which is provided through Gwaredu BVD, supports both youngstock testing and the hunt for persistently infected animals in order to help herds eliminate the disease and achieve BVD free status.  

More than 8,300 herds in Wales are now part of the programme and financial support is available to hunt PIs until the end of 2022. 

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer, said: “The FUW, along with other industry bodies, continues to work towards those measures which will help Wales eliminate BVD.  This extension allows more time for cattle herds to engage in this free testing programme in order to ensure that they have prepared their herds for the possibility of BVD legislation next year.”

The FUW was part of an industry group that submitted a paper to Welsh Government for consideration of BVD legislation following the voluntary Gwaredu BVD programme.  A consultation is set to take place in the autumn and the FUW will consult with its membership on the proposals. 

“The Union’s Animal Health and Welfare Committee have been fully engaged in both Gwardeu BVD and in discussing how future BVD legislation might work.  We know that BVD is costly and estimates suggest that this disease can cost £4,500 per year for the average beef herd, and £15,000 for dairy herds through associated issues such as lowered milk yields,  poor fertility, diarrhoea and respiratory problems.   

“We continue to encourage our members to participate in Gwaredu BVD and we are urging members to take advantage of this additional funding in order to determine the status of their herd and to work towards eliminating the disease where any issues are found,” added Dr Wright.

Auditor General exposes long-standing FUW concerns on Rural Development Programme

A damning report on Wales’ Rural Development Programme (RDP) by Audit Wales has highlighted long-standing concerns raised repeatedly by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

The Audit Wales Ensuring Value for Money from Rural Development Grants Made Without Competition Report, published today (June 30), says key aspects of the design, operation and oversight of the Welsh Government’s Rural Development fund were not effective enough to ensure £53 million of grant awards would deliver value for money, and that the Welsh Government had adopted an approach of granting funds without competition and, in some cases, without taking any alternative steps to ensure the projects would deliver value for money.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Welsh farmers pay the highest percentage of money possible into the RDP pot through a process called pillar transfer, totalling around £40 million a year, whereas in most EU countries and regions farmers pay a tiny fraction of this figure.

“When it was announced in 2013 that Wales would have the maximum 15% pillar transfer rate - the highest in the EU - we were promised an RDP that would in return deliver transformational change for our industry.

“Having since paid in a total of around £230 million, our industry deserved far better from the RDP, and the concerns that we had raised repeatedly since 2013 over the RDP should have been acted on sooner.”

Free online Mental Health Awareness training for agricultural sector in Wales

The DPJ Foundation are offering free mental health awareness training online to anyone who works in or lives in the agricultural sector in Wales.

As part of a grant from Welsh Government announced last year, the foundation initially booked several sessions across Wales to train up those in the community with the skills in Mental Health Awareness. Due to Covid-19 these sessions had to be cancelled but The DPJ Foundation have been working to find a way of providing this training during this difficult time.  

Emma Picton-Jones founder of The DPJ Foundation said ‘As with everyone, we have had to make some changes during this period and this is just one of them. The training is so important, especially with isolation being so prevalent and farmers facing an uncertain future. We hope by providing these sessions online we can put the confidence in our community to look out for each other and know how to support one another. It is going to take a long time for our sector to recover. It is vital that we understand how to look out for the most vulnerable among us’

Presidential team of the FUW re-elected

Members of the presidential team of the Farmers’ Union of Wales have been re-elected at a special virtual meeting of the Council of the Union.

The Presidential Team is democratically elected by the Union’s farmer members from across all 12 County Branches.

In their roles as Official FUW Representatives, the Presidential Team speaks exclusively on behalf of the Farmers of Wales at local, national and international levels. 

They also frequently represent the Union at ministerial meetings, stakeholder workshops and local branch meetings.

The full team includes the President Glyn Roberts and Deputy President Ian Rickman, as well as the Vice president for the North, Mid and South of Wales regions. 

Ian Rickman is a Carmarthenshire sheep farmer, who is a past county chairman of the FUW in Carmarthenshire, and has held the position of chairman of the hill farming and marginal land committee.

North Wales Vice President Eifion Huws, a highly respected Ayrshire cattle judge and dairy farmer, who has been representing the dairy industry in the hope of acquiring better conditions and prices for farmers.

Mid Wales Vice President Brian Bowen, who farms a mixed suckler cow and hill sheep unit near Tredegar. The farm consists of 150 acres of owned land with a further 1000 rented acres and 1200 acres of common rights on three separate commons. He runs the farm, along with his father, mother and son.

North Wales beef and sheep farmer unanimously re-elected as FUW President

North Wales beef and sheep farmer, Glyn Roberts, has been unanimously re-elected as President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales at a recent virtual meeting of the Council of the Union.

Glyn Roberts first became President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales in 2015. Since then he has helped to secure #FairFarmFunding for farmers in Wales; has focussed on the importance of agriculture in rural communities and on the Welsh language; and has promoted why #FarmingMatters on a national scale.

Speaking about his re-appointment, Glyn Roberts said: “It is an honour and privilege to serve as the President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales and I thank our members for putting their trust in me for another term.

“These are very uncertain times for our industry. Our sector is dealing with the repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak, Brexit and our future relationship with the EU is still uncertain and there are many other farming issues, such as water regulations, future farm policies and bovine TB, which will need to be addressed and resolved over the coming months and years.

“Taking this Union forward and ensuring that we advance and protect Wales’ family farms, both nationally and individually, in order to secure thriving, sustainable family farms here in Wales has always been our mission and vision - and we will continue to do everything we can to keep our farmers farming.”

Extension to EU Withdrawal Period must be agreed to safeguard economy - FUW Council says

An extension to the EU Withdrawal period must be agreed, if the UK Government and European Union fail to reach an agreement regarding close post-Withdrawal Period trading arrangements in the coming weeks.

That was the consensus reached by Council delegates of the Farmers’ Union of Wales at a special virtual meeting on Thursday 25 June. 

“Given around two thirds of identifiable Welsh exports go to European Union (EU) Member States and that Welsh agriculture is particularly dependent on such exports for its economic viability, failure to enter a close trading agreement with the EU after the current EU Withdrawal Period would be catastrophic for Wales and its farmers,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts. 

Succession planning in the spotlight at upcoming FUW virtual seminar

Succession planning is often a taboo subject in farming families. Yet it is a topic that requires attention and conversation. To help address some of the uncomfortable questions and shed light on issues that go beyond retirement planning, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has teamed up with South Wales based law firm RDP Law and is hosting a virtual seminar.

The event, which is free for FUW members, will take place on Wednesday, July 8 at 7.30 pm and is hosted via Zoom.

Leading the conversation on the night is Sioned Thomas, who heads up both the Agricultural and Private Client departments at RDP Law. She has extensive experience in estate administration and succession planning for farming clients as well as acquisition, disposal and re-financing of agricultural property. Sioned has a farming background and understands that the family relationship within a farming business is like no other. 

“Succession planning is vital for any farming family looking to protect the future of their business. A succession plan is a long-term plan about the future of the farming business, the goals and vision of the business and a plan on how to achieve them. 

Compulsory purchase and utilities work on your farm - do you know your rights?

Do you know what your rights are when it comes to compulsory purchase and utilities work on your farm? If you want to find out what can and can’t be done on your land, then sign-up to the Farmers’ Union of Wales webinar, which is being hosted in conjunction with  Davis Meade Property Consultants. 

This webinar on Zoom will be presented by Eifion Bibby and Charles Cowap of Davis Meade Property Consultants, building on their long association with the Union. It takes place on Tuesday 7 July at 7pm and will cover the basics of compulsory purchase including the legal rights of acquiring authorities and utility operators.  

Carmarthen food company job losses would be a major blow to rural economy and community

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has responded with dismay to the news that one of Wales’ biggest food companies, Castell Howell which employs around 700 staff, is having to consider job cuts because of the drop in hospitality trade caused by the covid-19 lockdown.

West Wales farmer and entrepreneur, Brian Jones, who formed Castell Howell Foods in the early 1980s, has previously been recognised for his services to agriculture with the Farmers’ Union of Wales External award for services to agriculture.

Responding to the news, FUW Carmarthenshire chairman Phil Jones said: “Brian has done so much for agriculture and his passion for Wales as a food destination has been second to none. His commitment to do what is good for Wales as well as His Celtic Pride brand has always been an example of that. 

“For the company to now face potential job losses because of covid-19 is heartbreaking to say the least. The wider consequences for the rural economy, suppliers and staff could be drastic if no alternative can be found. 

“We are hoping that this will be only a small blip in this company's future and that they can return to normality, increase their business growth as soon as possible and re-employ not just those that may have lost their jobs but many more.

“The consequences for the food service industry have been devastating and sadly Castell Howell have not been exempt. With this in mind we call on the Welsh Government to do all they can to assist the sector in recovering from the lockdown downturn as quickly as possible.”

FUW calls for British Wool Covid-19 Support

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has written to Economy Minister, Ken Skates, following the news that British Wool has been denied covid-19 support through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLs). 

The covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant drop in demand for wool as the global market for cross bred wool has been shut since February this year.  

The busiest selling period for GB and Welsh wool is between February and May each year and the impact of the coronavirus on wool sales has therefore been particularly acute. 

In its letter, the FUW highlighted the impact that the closure of wool markets would have on the price received by sheep farmers for their wool and highlighted that sheep producers must still pay for this year's shearing costs.  

FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “The closure of normal wool markets has left British Wool with around one third of their wool stock unsold and this has had a direct impact on sheep producer incomes.  This unsold stock not only detrimentally affects calculated wool values, which are payable for the 2019-20 balance, but also means that British Wool are unable to pay an advance for this season’s wool.”  

Despite funding being made available to other wool purchasers,  British Wool has failed to qualify for support as they have been classified as a public sector body.  

“British Wool is wholly independent, self-funding and operates within a competitive market place.  We believe that British Wool should have fully qualified for support under the CBILs scheme or some other variation of covid-19 support for businesses.  

“Given the impact upon both the sector and upon primary producers, we have made our views known and have written to the Minister to call for a rethink on this funding decision,” added Ian Rickman. 

Lords reflect key FUW concerns in second reading of agri bill

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts has welcomed the fact that key concerns raised by the FUW in correspondence with members of the House of Lords were echoed by members across the political spectrum yesterday as the Agriculture Bill received its second reading in the house. 

The bill - considered to be the most important piece of UK legislation in relation to food and farming for more than 70 years - includes a clause that would ensure imported organic food from an overseas country is produced to standards equivalent to those applicable in the UK.

However, an attempt to introduce a similar clause requiring that any agricultural or food product imported into the UK under a trade agreement be produced to animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards equivalent to those in the UK was opposed by the UK Government and defeated during the third reading of the bill in the House of Commons on the 13th May 2020.

In a letter to members of the House of Lords, FUW President Glyn Roberts said “This has hugely angered farmers and consumers alike, not least given that the UK Government has committed to such a principle in numerous statements, and that maintaining UK standards and protecting consumers, farmers and food producers from sub-standard imports has cross-party support.

Farmers call on public to help avoid long term adverse impacts for UK food security and consumer health

Farmers in Wales are calling on the public to help them avoid long term adverse impacts for UK food security  and consumer health.

The call comes as a result of the UK Government blocking a change to the Agriculture Bill which would prevent food produced to lower animal welfare and environmental standards than is required of UK producers from being imported into the UK after the Brexit Withdrawal period.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Whichever way your MP voted, it's not too late to lobby them for the change to be reintroduced before the Agriculture Bill becomes law.

“You can send them a letter from our website making it clear that UK consumers and food producers deserve better, and let your voice be heard.”

The Agriculture Bill currently progressing through Parliament has, since being drafted by the UK Government, included a clause that would ensure imported organic food from an overseas country is produced to standards equivalent to those applicable in the UK.

An attempt to introduce a similar clause requiring that any agricultural or food product imported into the UK under a trade agreement be produced to animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards equivalent to those in the UK was opposed by the UK Government and defeated during the Third Reading of the Bill on the 13th May 2020.

UK agricultural global tariff announcement a step in the right direction

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has described the UK Government’s announcement of global tariff rates for key Welsh agricultural products which are broadly aligned with those of the European Union as a welcome step in the right direction - but has warned that these should not be watered down, whatever the outcome of current trade negotiations. 

Speaking just hours after a meeting with Greg Hands, the UK Government’s Minister for Trade Policy, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The importance of aligning agricultural tariffs for products such as beef, lamb and dairy produce is something the FUW made clear in a meeting with Minister Hands on Monday [May 18].

“Since February last year, we have written repeatedly to the UK Government regarding proposed draft tariff rates which would represent a major threat to UK farmers and consumers, the UK’s food security and would be a massive own goal in terms of reducing our negotiating capital in trade talks.”

In early March this year, the FUW responded to a consultation by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, stating that: ‘Tariffs on agricultural produce protect UK farm businesses against unfair competition from products produced in conditions which would be illegal in the UK, including in terms of environmental, health and welfare standards, workers rights and working conditions.

‘Be kind to yourself’ - FUW President urges farmers as many feel under pressure

Farmers’ Union of Wales President, Glyn Roberts, is urging farmers to be kind to themselves, as many are feeling the stress caused by the on-going Coronavirus pandemic. 

The call coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 18 - Sunday 24 May 2020), which focuses on kindness this year.

Speaking from his farm in North-Wales, he said: “These are very difficult times for us all and I know that many will be putting on a brave face, despite being worried, stressed and anxious for a variety of reasons. I urge you to be kind to yourself - if you feel like the world is crashing down on you, talk about it if you can and try not to put yourself under too much pressure. Along with the body, the mind is the best bit of kit a farmer can have. But it is also the hardest to maintain. We must listen to our body as well. It will tell you when you need to slow down and look after yourself.

“The single most effective thing you can do to help yourself to keep the mind healthy, is to talk. Talk about your struggles and about what you are feeling. Telling someone what you are going through is one of the biggest steps you can take – you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Equally, if you notice a family member or friend struggling - speak to them. Give them a call, have a virtual coffee catch-up. 

“One thing that we have seen all over the world, is that kindness is prevailing - especially in uncertain times. And amid the fear, there is still our community, support and hope. Better days are to come - a storm is usually followed by a rainbow. Be kind to yourself and others and remember - it’s ok not to be ok.”

Parliament must pursue amendments to agri bill to protect food security and safety

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says MPs and Lords must continue to work to introduce changes to the UK Agriculture Bill which protect the UK’s food security and maintain standards for consumers, after a critical amendment was blocked by the UK Government.

During the third reading of the Agriculture Bill - the first of its kind to take place under Westminster’s coronavirus 'hybrid' proceedings and electronic voting process - a clause which would prevent future trade deals from allowing food into the UK not produced to the standards required of farmers and processors in the UK was defeated by 328 to 277 votes, having failed to receive the support of the UK Government. 

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The FUW has highlighted the need for such an amendment in oral and written evidence to UK Parliament and Welsh Assembly committees. We believe it was a grave error on the part of the Government to oppose the amendment given that it had the support of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee and was supported passionately by MPs from across the political spectrum.”

Mr Roberts said FUW members and the public were appalled that an attempt to protect UK farmers and consumers from food produced to lower health, welfare and environmental standards had effectively been blocked by the Government, at a time when the importance of protecting the food security and health of the Nation was at the top of the agenda.

“With the Agriculture Bill now due to be considered by the House of Lords it is essential that they do all they can to correct this position before the Bill returns to the House of Commons, and I truly hope that the Government will support rather than obstruct this.”

FUW welcomes funding to support Welsh dairy farmers through COVID-19

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed new funding measures to support Welsh dairy farmers through COVID-19, following an announcement by Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths.

The dairy sector has felt the immediate impact of the global pandemic with the closure of the food service and hospitality sectors.

To support the sector during these challenging times, the minister has confirmed eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income in April and subsequently May will be entitled to up to £10,000, to cover 70% of their lost income.

This it is hoped will help ensure they can continue to operate without impacting animal welfare and the environment.

Prime Minister must issue urgent clarification that English lockdown changes do not apply in Wales

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has called for Boris Johnson to issue urgent clarification that English lockdown changes do not apply in Wales, describing the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Sunday May 10th as confusing and ambiguous and having failed utterly to distinguish between Welsh and English changes to restrictions.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday (May 10) FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “There appeared to be no attempt to make it clear that the changes being announced only applied in England. 

“Worse than that, the impression was given that the changes applied throughout the UK when this is simply not the case.”

Mr Roberts said he was particularly concerned that the Prime Minister’s comment that ‘you can drive to other destinations’ would lead people to wrongly assume they could visit Wales, thereby increasing the risk of introducing the coronavirus to Welsh communities as well as being fined by the police for doing so.

“In March the Welsh Government had to bring in emergency legislation to close footpaths and other public spaces as thousands flocked to Welsh beauty spots, causing a huge risk to themselves and others,” said Mr Roberts.

“While people are generally now exercising locally within the restrictions laid down by the Welsh Government, every day our offices are dealing with members who are in the vulnerable category and are concerned that the large numbers of people coming through their farmyards and fields are placing them at risk.”

Mr Roberts said that members were also extremely concerned at the number of individuals arriving in rural areas and illegally using second homes.

FUW calls on Welsh Government to follow Defra in introducing dairy hardship fund

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has called for the Welsh Government to introduce support for dairy farmers hit by severe farmgate price drops after Defra announced a fund enabling English dairy farmers to access up to £10,000 to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

FUW milk and dairy produce committee Chairman Dai Miles said: “Large numbers of Welsh dairy farmers have been hit hard by the seismic changes to dairy supply chains that have occurred as a result of the current pandemic, with many facing devastating financial losses.

Farmers’ Union of Wales highlights food supply concerns to select committee

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has highlighted the current impact of the coronavirus pandemic for Welsh food producers and the dangers of trade and rural support policies which undermine UK food security in evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee.

 

Responding to the EFRA Select Committee inquiry on Covid-19 and food supply, the FUW said that UK food supply chains have been severely disrupted by the current pandemic and the measures put in place to prevent its transmission, causing a seismic shift in how UK and EU supply chains function and drastic falls in farmgate prices across agricultural sectors.

 

Coronavirus must not undermine long-term livestock health, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has written to the Welsh Economy Minister, Ken Skates, in support of the British Veterinary Association’s call for action to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic does not lead to a future reduction in veterinary capacity. 

 

FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Mr Ian Lloyd, said: “The current pandemic does not alter the importance of ensuring that staffing levels within veterinary practices are such that 24/7 emergency care for livestock is provided in order to safeguard animal health and welfare. This may require staff to be brought back from furlough and it is essential that the furlough scheme is flexible enough to cope with this type of arrangement.”  

 

FUW welcomes TB testing derogation for youngstock

The decision by Welsh Government to exempt cattle under 180 days of age from routine or targeted surveillance bovine TB testing in unrestricted herds has been welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales as a pragmatic approach to the current pandemic.

 

Time is running out for SAF applications - FUW reminds farmers

Farmers across Wales are being reminded not to delay filling out their SAF applications, by the Farmers’ Union of Wales. The call comes after Rural Payments Wales (RPW) has reported a reduction in forms submitted compared to this time last year.

FUW Pembrokeshire County Executive Officer Rebecca Voyle said: “RPW has seen a reduction of around 20% in the number of SAF applications submitted when compared to this time last year. We therefore encourage and remind members that it would be beneficial if SAF forms were submitted early, where possible. This will help the Customer Contact Centre manage the workload and prevent them from being inundated with telephone and RPW Online enquiries close to the SAF deadline.”

Those who are unable to submit a fully completed SAF or any SAF Supporting Documents before the 15 June deadline should inform RPW via RPW Online or the Customer Contact Centre.

Applications under the Force Majeure / Exceptional Circumstances provision must be made within 15 working days of the final date the individual business knew they would be unable to submit their SAF and/or Supporting Documents by the deadline.

FUW urges dog walkers to keep dogs on a Lead when taking lockdown exercise

Recent reports of dog attacks on livestock during the Covid-19 pandemic have prompted the Farmers’ Union of Wales to urge dog walkers to keep dogs on a lead when exercising in the countryside.

FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee Chairman, Ian Lloyd, said: “We are reminding those taking respite in the countryside to also remember our farmers who are key workers producing our food at this very difficult time.  

“Many family farms in Wales have been hit hard by the closure of restaurants, cafes and other service outlets during the current pandemic. Avoidable losses, such as those that happen when a dog chases or attacks livestock, are unnecessary, bad for both dog and livestock welfare and add to the current financial stress being experienced by farming businesses at this time.”

The FUW has repeatedly called for legislative changes that will provide police forces with more powers to obtain evidence for prosecution, seize dogs, ban offenders from keeping dogs and have dangerous dogs destroyed.  

The Union continues to stress the importance of toughening the legislation relating to dog attacks on livestock in order to help reduce the severe welfare and financial consequences that occur when sheep are stressed, injured, mutilated or killed by dogs.

“There is growing frustration and anger amongst our membership that very little can be done to protect the livestock sector from dog attacks.  Prior to the pandemic, the number of reported dog attacks on livestock had shown some signs of improving and, whilst many dog attacks happen by unaccompanied dogs that have strayed from the home environment, our messages about keeping dogs on a lead near livestock have become even more relevant during this pandemic as people seek to get outdoors,” said Mr Lloyd.

Domestic food procurement process must be improved, FUW urges

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has written to Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe, outlining the urgent need to safeguard domestic food security and primary producers by ensuring that the procurement process is properly aligned with the Well Being of Future Generations Act.  

In his letter, FUW President Glyn Roberts stressed that it is essential that the food procurement process does not place price above all other factors and functions in a way which protects domestic food security, preserves the food supply chain and ensures the longer term viability of our food producers and their businesses. 

“The current Covid-19 pandemic has placed significant pressure on the  farming industry, with a varied impact on food supply chains. Whilst panic buying and other factors have led to significant shortages of certain foodstuffs, sales of produce through cafes and other outlets have plummeted.  This has led to major price cuts for many of our red meat and dairy producers.

“The pandemic has brought the importance of maintaining UK food security into sharp focus and it is essential that those businesses producing our most essential commodity are both supported and recognised in the short and longer term,” wrote Mr Roberts.

This, he stresses, is especially pertinent given that the Welsh agricultural sector was already under pressure from other industry uncertainties, not least those associated with Brexit and the current Welsh Government appetite for increasing agricultural regulation above and beyond that experienced by our global competitors.  

“Whilst the FUW appreciates that increasing and promoting domestic food procurement is not a silver bullet to current industry problems, we believe that it is essential that the UK Government recognise our key workers and lead by example when procuring foodstuffs in order to protect the longer-term viability and sustainability of those family farms and businesses which are vital in ensuring that the UK has a secure food supply,” he added. 

Draconian WG water quality proposals would push dairy farms ‘over the edge’, FUW dairy committee warns

Dairy farmers in Wales have spoken of their deep concern that water quality regulations published in draft form by Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths would push dairy farms ‘over the edge’.

Discussing the draft legislation at an emergency meeting of the Farmers’ Union of Wales Milk and Dairy produce committee, delegates were clear that a large proportion of the industry, which is already suffering severe impacts due to the knock-on impact of Coronavirus, would not survive if these regulations were to be introduced.

“Large numbers of Welsh dairy farmers have seen massive falls in the price they receive for their milk as well as delays to payments due to the closure of the service sector and other impacts caused by coronavirus,” said FUW Milk and Dairy produce committee chairman Dai Miles. 

This has led to some farmers having to throw thousands of litres of milk away and large numbers losing vast sums of money on a daily basis, said Mr Miles.

Support for Covid-19 ravaged dairy sector a welcome step - but more must be done

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has cautiously welcomed measures introduced to aid the dairy industry, which has been impacted severely by the closure of the food services sector and the realignment of the supply chain and market prices.

The temporary easing of competition laws, which apply across the whole of the UK, is hoped to enable greater collaboration so the dairy sector, including dairy farmers and processors, can work closer to solve the issues it is facing.

The temporary suspension of competition laws for the dairy sector was one of the options the FUW discussed with the Rural Affairs Minister as part of the Agricultural Resilience Group.

Responding to the announcement, FUW Milk and Dairy Committee chairman Dai Miles said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction. It will allow for a more accurate picture of the volumes of milk out there, which processors wanted. It will allow them to collaborate. 

“However its effect on farmers could be negative and other support measures must be put in place urgently. Of course, we need a more accurate knowledge of surplus milk but with that comes the danger of it having a negative effect on the spot prices - which a lot of dairy farmers are dependent on. 

“So as welcome as this announcement is, when accompanied by good will on the part of companies, there is a risk it will play into the hands of those companies least affected . Unless this knowledge is used to implement a compensated volume reduction scheme, it could cause more harm than good.”

COVID-19 - Important Information for our members and customers

 

In view of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve taken the decision to help protect members, customers and colleagues by closing all FUW offices.

All staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, meaning our team will be continuing with exactly the same service but over the phone/email/skype or other means of remote communication instead. 

Members and customers should continue to contact us as they would, as all our team can be contacted via the usual phone numbers. 

We will be making sure that our service levels are maintained. SAF/IACS appointments will carry on as normal but will be conducted over the phone. 

Contact details for your local office can be found here: https://www.fuw.org.uk/en/contact-us 

 

Important links relating to the Coronavirus:


The TB Hub have prepared a list of FAQs regarding how TB procedures will be affected by the virus: https://tbhub.co.uk/statutory-tb-testing-of-cattle-in-gb-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Red Tractor Updated Covid-19 position here: https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/contentfiles/Farmers-7085.pdf?_=637206600290507095

Livestock Auctioneers Association LAA - 25/03/2020: https://www.laa.co.uk/news/3989/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-to-members-and-farmers/

Business Wales (including details of coronavirus support for businesses): https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) available through participating lenders: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) guidance on Coronavirus: https://www.naac.co.uk/coronavirus-guidance-issued-to-contractors/

National Milk Recording services 24/03/2020: https://www.nmr.co.uk/about-us/coronavirus

Senedd Research Blog: https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support/