FUW seeks nominations for outstanding dairy person in Wales

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) is once again looking to recognise an individual who has made a great contribution towards the development of the dairy industry and has become an integral part of the dairy industry in Wales.

To recognise such a person the Union is seeking nominations for its FUW Outstanding Service to the Welsh Dairy Industry award. The winner will be announced, and the presentation made, at this year’s Royal Welsh Winter Fair on Monday 29 November.

Caernarfonshire farmer raises agricultural water pollution regulation concerns with local politicians

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has ensured that issues concerning changes to Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) remain at the forefront of politician’s minds.

Arfon MP, Liz Saville-Roberts and Mabon ap Gwynfor MS grasped the opportunity to visit Chwilog farm Mur Clwt Lloer - farmed by Caernarfonshire FUW Chairman, John Hughes -   to see the potential issues first hand.

John farms the 75 hectare farm which is all laid out to pasture in partnership with his father William Hughes and wife, Sian. Currently, they raise 120 replacement dairy heifers for a large dairy herd nearby.

Under current NVZ regulations in other UK and EU Nations and previous regulations covering 2.4 % of land in Wales, farmers with more than 80% of their holding designated as grassland have the ability to apply for a derogation to increase the annual livestock manure nitrate whole farm limit from 170kg N per ha to 250kg N per ha.

NZ deal shows UK Government willingness to sacrifice farming and food security

The agreement of a trade deal with New Zealand shows a willingness by the UK Government to undermine UK farming and food security in return for negligible benefits to the economy, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has said.

Responding to the announcement on Wednesday (20 October) that a UK-NZ trade deal has been agreed in principle FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The UK Government’s own figures show that the economic benefits for the UK of this deal are microscopic. That’s not surprising given the population of New Zealand is lower than that of Scotland.

“The winners in this deal will clearly be New Zealand as it allows them to up their exports of food to the UK, representing a major threat to Welsh and GB farmers as well as to our food security.”

Dairy farms have important role to play when it comes to sustainable food production, says Anglesey dairy farmer

Anglesey dairy farmer William Williams, who has been farming on a county council holding for over 30 years, says that farming families are the bedrock of local communities, essential when it comes to sustainable food production and climate change mitigation.

Looking after 200 dairy cows at Clwch Dernog Bach, Llanddeusant, which includes 400 rented and 80 acres of owned land, William has always had a love for dairy farming. “I was brought up on a dairy farm and my father used to milk 6 cows. It inspired me and I started milking as soon as I could,” said William.

Starting with just 25 milking cows, William expanded the herd with the abolition of the milk quotas, but despite an increase in the numbers on his farm, he says it’s as sustainable as it can be. “I would consider our way of dairy farming very sustainable. We’ve kept this way of farming going for over 50 years. We have more cows now on the holding but it’s worth remembering that there used to be more farms around here, about 10 of them. We all had lower stocking numbers, with herds around the size of 10-20 cows. Those farms have been amalgamated into bigger units, so we have fewer farms but the same number of cows in the area, to the same acres.”

William is clear that the change in farming has had an impact on the local community. “Nobody can make a living milking 20 cows these days. We had to adapt but that has changed the community. The schools have closed as well. There used to be 4 local schools, now we have 1 big school. The smaller farms have gone, just as the smaller schools. It’s a bit sad really and just shows that farming families keep local communities alive, as well as our culture and the Welsh language,” he says.

FUW Diversification Committee Highlights Housing Emergency

The Farmers’ Union of Wales’ (FUW) Diversification Committee has highlighted the need for the Welsh Government to take robust action to protect rural communities from the impacts of second home ownership and other factors that are depleting local housing.

Following a FUW Diversification Committee meeting held on Thursday (14 October) during which the committee discussed a Welsh Government consultation on local taxes for second homes and self-catering accommodation, newly elected committee Chair, Dewi Owen, said: “Committee delegates from across Wales expressed acute concerns regarding the impact second home ownership and similar factors are having on the affordability and availability of homes for local people, and how this is threatening our rural communities.”

Trade relations breakdown must be avoided at all costs in NI protocol talks, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has urged the UK Government to work within the Northern Ireland (NI) protocol and to carefully consider the benefits of the concessions put forward by the European Union - or risk severe adverse impacts for UK businesses from a breakdown in trade relations between the UK and EU.

Following a meeting of the FUW’s Presidential Policy Team on Wednesday evening (13 October), FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “During the meeting, members discussed the problems caused by the protocol, the EU’s proposals to allay these within the terms of what the UK agreed and signed up to, and the threat for Welsh agriculture and UK businesses of a breakdown in trade relations between the UK and EU.

“It was concluded that the most pragmatic way forward was for the UK to consider the significant improvements put forward by the EU in a positive light, and that Welsh and UK businesses already facing major disruption due to issues such as worker shortages should not be placed at greater risk through the UK seeking to tear up an international agreement on which the ink is barely dry.”

Welsh farming leaders join forces on climate change goals

Farming leaders in Wales have united to speak with one clear voice on the industry’s ambition to deliver climate goals alongside the production of climate-friendly food.

Representatives from NFU Cymru, Farmers’ Union of Wales, Hybu Cig Cymru, AHDB and Wales YFC met for a meeting in which all five organisations agreed to work together to ensure Welsh food and farming can make a positive contribution to combatting climate change while safeguarding global food security.

The statement reads: 

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world.  Through climate-friendly food production, the trees, hedges, grassland and soils that store carbon on Welsh farms together with on-farm energy generation, agriculture in Wales plays a key role in tackling climate change and is uniquely placed to be the solution. 

Great Orme Shepherd advocates traditional farming methods for sustainable food production and conservation

The Great Orme - a limestone mountain that rises 207 meters above sea level and is recognised as a Country park, Special area of conservation, a site of special scientific interest and part of the heritage coast. With views right across the Irish Sea and Anglesey in the short distance, it is no wonder that it’s rugged landscape attracts over 600,000 visitors a year.

But the Great Orme is more than just a tourist attraction. It is home to National Trust tenant Shepherd Dan Jones and 650 sheep. Dan has been the custodian of Parc Farm for the past 5 years and looks after not just the 145 acres included with the farm, but helps to manage a total of 900 acres, which have grazing rights for 416 ewes plus followers. 

Dan was born on a small family farm on Anglesey, and farming was always his passion. “My parents wanted me to do something different but I really wanted to farm. I went to Llysfasi college and then to Aberystwyth University to study agriculture. I always wanted to be my own boss and loved working with animals, so this was a really natural progression.” 

The National Trust bought Parc farm in 2015, and it was an important purchase as there were plans to convert the 150 acres farm into a golf course and with that the sheep would have had to go. The sheep are essential residents on the Great Orme, ensuring grazing rights are maintained and the landscape and biodiversity flourish.  

FUW raises school meal procurement concerns with Anglesey County Council

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has raised concerns about the procurement policies for school meals at primary schools on Anglesey with the local council. Union officials were concerned that the menu offered to children did not incorporate enough local and Welsh produce. 

FUW Anglesey County Executive Alaw Jones said: “We were encouraged by the meeting we had with the County Council and welcome the fact that they hope to work with local farmers to explore opportunities to supply meat and dairy produce for school meals on the island.” 

The council, which has recently signed a multi million pound contract to supply 9,500 school meals every day with catering giant Chartwells said that though they were limited in their influence over food suppliers, they would be happy to help the FUW raise awareness of high quality Welsh food producers within the catering company.

‘Help for mental health must remain high on agenda’ - says FUW ahead of World Mental Health Day

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging decision makers and Governments to ensure that mental health services remain high on the agenda, ahead of World Mental Health Day (Sunday, 10 October). 

The 2021 World Mental Health Day campaign ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’, run by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), aims to focus on the issues that perpetuate mental health inequality locally and globally. 

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “I would say we are lucky in Wales and in our rural communities that we have the support of many mental health charities such as the DPJ Foundation, that our farmers and rural communities can call on for help. However, many people with a mental illness still do not receive the treatment that they are entitled to and deserve and together with their families and carers continue to experience stigma and discrimination.”

Ecologist turned farmer highlights industries crucial role in sustainable food production and habitat conservation

Four miles south of Machynlleth, nestled in the Dyfi valley and on the edges of the Cambrian mountains is Cefn Coch Farm, home to Dr Joseph Hope. The farm lies at about 200 to 250 meters above sea level and the land rises to the south and you can walk to the summit of Pumlumon without seeing a road or a house. 

The farm has 40 acres of species-rich pasture and woodland, and Joe is currently buying another 50 acres at Ynyslas. A new entrant, he keeps a small growing herd of Highland cattle, currently just 12 head in total. 4 saddleback x wild boar pigs are also busy clearing bracken and brambles in order to rehabilitate it for grazing.

Joe moved to Cefn Coch just over 6 years ago, leaving behind a life in Edinburgh, and a career at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh where he worked as a lichenologist. He initially let out the fields to a neighbour for grazing sheep and cattle and it was only 3 years ago that he bought his first cattle – 3 cows and calves. It was a big shift but got him hooked into pursuing a farming life.

“I guess I just wanted to get my hands dirty! Working at the Botanic Gardens was a real privilege but very cerebral. I wanted to do rather than just observe. I inherited money from the sale of my grandmother’s farm in Australia and didn’t just want to pile it into stocks and shares. I have a long interest in conservation and the countryside and came here to look after what seemed to me to be a very special patch of land. In time I decided that the best way to do that was by continuing to farm sensitively,” explained Joe. 

FUW discusses tree planting and carbon trading with Minister for Climate Change

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) had positive talks with Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, with tree planting and the purchase of Welsh land for the purpose of carbon offsetting by businesses from outside of Wales taking centre stage.

The FUW has received reports from members on almost a weekly basis of whole farms or parcels of land being bought up by individuals and businesses from outside of Wales for the purpose of tree planting in order to invest in the growing carbon market or offset their own emissions rather than seeking to reduce their carbon footprint in the first instance.

“Our longstanding concerns regarding this issue were discussed in a recent meeting of the Union’s Council. Members felt strongly that the Welsh Government and Senedd should take urgent action to tackle this issue through some form of control mechanism,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

Farmers highlight industry concerns with Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales

Farmers from Ceredigion, Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire have highlighted concerns of the industry, including the future of agricultural policy in Wales and bovine TB, when they met with Cefin Campbell Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales.

Hosting the meeting was Farmers’ Union of Wales member Meirion Rees, who farms in partnership with his parents, Val and Meurig Rees at Penrallt Meredith, Crosswell, Eglwyswrw.

The family farming business was started by Meirion’s parents, Val and Meurig, over 40 years ago.  Originally a dairy farm the family stopped milking around 20 years ago and kept suckler cows and sheep.  

Meirion went to University in Cardiff to study civil engineering and spent 10 years working on different engineering projects in all parts of the country. However, he always kept an interest in the farm and helped out when he could. Eight years ago he moved back to the farm full time.

New team at the helm for Montgomeryshire FUW

The Montgomeryshire branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales has elected three new county officials at its recent county executive meeting. 

Iwan Pughe JonesTaking over the reign as county chairman from Bryn Francis, is Iwan Pughe Jones. The county wishes to thank Bryn Francis for his dedication to the Union and the farming industry over the past 3 years. 

Additionally the county wishes to thank the outgoing County President, Mr Gareth Vaughan for his service. The newly elected Montgomeryshire county president is Mrs Lynda Brown and Mr Wyn Williams has been elected as county vice chairman.

Proposed lift on USA lamb ban welcome news for industry

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed news that the long standing ban on importing Welsh lamb into the United States is to be lifted soon. The announcement was made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday 22 September. 

The FUW has long discussed the prospect of lifting the unjustified ban with the USDA in various meetings over the past decade. Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales have highlighted that the potential market for PGI Welsh Lamb in the USA is estimated to be worth as much as £20 million a year within five years of the export restrictions being removed.

Speaking from his Carmarthenshire sheep farm, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman, said: “Now more than ever we need to explore other export markets while also protecting our long established markets in Europe. The US market is one we are keen to develop much stronger relationships with and the news that this ban could soon be lifted is most welcome news for our sheep industry.”

FUW welcomes BPS and Glastir contract extensions

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, that subject to sufficient funding being provided by the UK Government, farmers will continue to receive the Basic Payment Scheme until 2023 and that there will be a two year extension to the Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic scheme contracts.

The Glastir contract extension represents a budget commitment of £66.79m over two years for Welsh farmers. All existing eligible contract holders will be offered an extension via their RPW on-line accounts.

Responding to the announcement, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “This is very welcome news for the farming industry. With so much uncertainty around at the moment, this offers some stability for the next two years. A reassurance the industry very much needs, particularly as trade deals with large global agri-exporters are made by the Uk Government. 

Farming Matters take centre stage at Usk Show

The Farmers’ Union of Wales and FUW Insurance Services Ltd. welcomed members, customers, friends of the Union and politicians at Usk Show on Saturday 11 September, where farming matters discussions took centre stage. 

The event, which was one of a few to go ahead in person this year, was a busy and successful day, which celebrated the very best of Monmouthshire farming and rural life. Joining the FUW Ltd. group on the day were the DPJ Foundation, Wales Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator Rob Taylor, and police officers from the Gwent Police force. The county office also arranged a raffle and childrens competition.

FUW Glamorgan and Gwent County Executive Officer Sharon Pritchard said: “We enjoyed welcoming friends, family, members, FUW Insurance Services customers and many politicians to our marquee on the day. We were pleased to be able to support this event, meet people in person and discuss the most critical farming matters with local politicians.”

FUW launches domestic violence awareness raising campaign in our rural communities

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), in cooperation with the DPJ Foundation and police forces across Wales, is putting the spotlight on an increase in domestic violence in all of our communities since the Covid 19 restrictions came into place last year.

There are many consequences of domestic abuse, including the development of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, and the FUW made a commitment to keep the spotlight on mental health issues for as long as it remains a problem in our rural communities and the last 12 months have been tough for many.

For many people home is not a place of safety and Covid-19 restrictions have increased the isolation suffered by many which is often exacerbated in our rural communities. It has also been more difficult for victims of domestic abuse to seek help at a time when incidence of domestic abuse has increased, which is even more acute in some of our isolated rural communities.

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales from March 2020 to 2021 there had been a 7% growth in police recorded domestic abuse crime but support services have seen a bigger rise, with many victims not seeking justice through the criminal justice system. Victim support have seen a 12% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases referred and many charities such as the DPJ foundation have seen an increase in calls regarding domestic abuse over this time. 

Ceredigion farmers raise bovine TB and tree planting concerns with local Member of the Senedd

Farmers from Ceredigion have raised their concerns around bovine TB and current tree planting targets with local Member of the Senedd, Elin Jones. Hosting the meeting was Farmers’ Union of Wales Ceredigion County Chairman Morys Ioan, who farms with his wife Helen, at Fferm Drefach, Cross Inn, Llandysul. 

The farm has been in the family for over 150 years and Morys is the 5th generation to farm Drefach. Morys and Helen own 24 acres and rent a further 244 acres. They keep 200 sheep and also rear 450 beef calves from dairy herds as stores and finishing cattle. 

Morys has recently come home to run the family farm and a lot of improvements have been made to the land including the planting of 4,000 hedging plants through the Glastir Small Grants scheme. Work has also begun on an approved calf rearing unit on which the farm business will be focusing on for the next 5 years. Working with local dairy farms, Morys is currently working on a way to accommodate the bovine TB situation as part of the business.  

Carmarthen farmers raise climate change issues with Deputy Minister

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Carmarthenshire and Union officials recently discussed critical climate change issues facing the agricultural industry with Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS.

Union officials acknowledged that given the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the role played by soils and plants in sequestering carbon is attracting significant attention, with a particular focus by the Welsh Government on planting trees.

FUW Carmarthen County Chairman Phil Jones said: “The FUW supports the overall aims of the Welsh Government with regards to environmental issues but we are concerned that a number of recent policy proposals to increase tree planting targets from 2000 hectares per year to 5000 ha/pa could see agricultural funding being diverted towards forestry and woodland with a lack of clarity on the consequences for Wales’ family farms and rural communities.”

FUW encourages children to submit farming Christmas card design in aid of charity

Primary school pupils from all over Wales are being invited to enter a Christmas card design themed around farming for the FUW’s Christmas card competition.

The FUW is asking children aged from four to 11 to design a Christmas farming scene for its Christmas cards, which will be sold to raise money for the Union’s charity The DPJ Foundation.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The competition will be split into Welsh language and English language categories. Children can use any media in their entries, such as crayons, coloured pencils, felt tipped pens or paint which must be completed on an A4 sheet of paper and emailed to us in jpeg format.

Reach out to loved ones, FUW encourages rural communities ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding rural communities to stand side by side with those suffering from poor health and reach out to loved ones, ahead of World Suicide Prevention day (Friday 10 September). 

World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally.

The International Association for Suicide Preventation has highlighted that one in every 100 deaths worldwide is the result of suicide and The World Health Organisation estimates that one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. The latest available statistics from the Samaritans (2019) highlight that in England and Wales there were 5,691 suicides, an increase of 321 on the previous year. The suicide rate for females under the age of 25 has increased by 93.8% since 2012, its highest level yet.

FUW looks forward to Usk show

The Farmers’ Union of Wales and FUW Insurance Services Ltd. are looking forward to welcoming members and customers to the Usk Show on Saturday 11 September. 

The event, which is one of a few to go ahead in person this year, will be held at Usk Showground, Gwernesney, Usk and promises to be a busy and successful day to celebrate the very best of Monmouthshire farming and rural life.

FUW Glamorgan and Gwent County Executive Officer Sharon Pritchard said: “We are very excited to welcome friends, family, members, FUW Insurance Services customers and everyone who wants to find out more about the Union to our marquee on the day. We are pleased to be able to support this event, meet people in person and are hopeful that events such as this signal a return to normal.”

Farmers urged to remain vigilant as credit card scams circulate in Pembrokeshire

Farmers and the wider public in Pembrokeshire are being urged to remain vigilant as credit card scams have been circulating in the county. The warning comes as the Farmers’ Union of Wales county office has received numerous phone calls from members raising the alarm.

According to Citizens Advice, scammers have been exploiting the pressures that the Covid-19 pandemic is putting people under and have noticed a significant increase in the number of scams relating to financial services in the last 12 months. These can include fake “Get Rich Quick” investment schemes or someone pretending to be from the individual's bank, asking them to transfer money or personal details.

FUW Pembrokeshire County Chairman Mike Kurtz said: “Our county office has received numerous phone calls about members having potentially fallen foul of a credit card scam in recent months. People of all ages and backgrounds get scammed and it’s important to be on your guard.”

Concerns stack up for Welsh agri sectors with UK-New Zealand free trade deal on the horizon

Concerns for the Welsh agricultural sector are stacking up as details of a free trade deal with New Zealand are on the horizon. The deadline for the trade deal has been mooted to be the end of August, according to the UK Government. 

The UK and New Zealand free trade deal is said to have been worth over £2.3 billion in 2020, with the figure likely to increase as a result of a wide-ranging trade deal.

FUW Vice President Dai Miles said: “The biggest problem with these trade deals is the volatility it will add to UK markets for all sectors. Currently with the demand from China, meat and dairy products from New Zealand and Australia are going there. If that demand in China drops, the UK will be exposed to potentially very cheap imports with no way of controlling their volume or price. 

Additional UK animal movement rules ‘utter hypocrisy’ given UK-Australia trade deal proposal, FUW says

The announcement that a raft of additional restrictions on animal movements will be introduced in England and Wales and confirmation that live animal exports will be banned has been described as ‘utter hypocrisy’ by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

The UK and Welsh Government announced on Wednesday 18 August that animal movement rules - which are already amongst the strictest in the world - would be tightened up significantly, despite standards in other countries not coming close to those already required in the UK. The announcement also confirmed that the new proposals would come in alongside a ban on live animal exports.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The decision to tighten the Welsh and English rules while opening the door to more foreign food produced to far lower welfare standards is utter hypocrisy.