Don’t fall foul - EU regulations still apply after 31 January

Farmers in Wales are being reminded that EU regulations which they must comply with to avoid fines and penalties will still be applicable after 31 January.

FUW Pembrokeshire County Executive Officer Rebecca Voyle, said: “Farmers might be tempted think the rules and regulations are to be thrown out of the window from 1 February, but that is not true, and believing this is the case could bring severe consequences.

“The UK will still be linked to the EU and will only just be starting the transition period which means little will change in practical terms and all rules still apply.”

Mrs Voyle said this included rules which are linked to the Basic Payment and other schemes.

An example is the requirement to notify Rural Payment Wales (RPW) of any changes to land.

“Please remember that you are still required to notify RPW of certain changes to land within 30 days of the change taking place in order to avoid penalties.  

“A ‘Manage My Land’ form needs to be submitted via your RPW Online account when you buy or sell land, or rent new land for which you have the management control of at 15 May.  

“In addition, if the boundary of a field is changed on a permanent basis, a field is amalgamated or divided on a permanent basis, or a field is being registered and mapped for the first time or the permanent feature area recorded in a field increases or decreases you will also need to submit a form,” said Rebecca Voyle.

Mrs Voyle emphasised that this was just one of thousands of rules and regulations that would not change, despite the UK leaving the EU at the end of January.

Glastir Entry and Advanced Support Scheme - don’t miss your chance to apply

Farmers are being urged not to miss the opportunity to apply for the Glastir Entry and Advanced Support Scheme. The loan facility has been set up to help farmers who will not receive their Glastir Entry or Advanced 2019 payment early in the payment window. 

The scheme will operate in the same way as the BPS Support Scheme and is an ‘opt-in’ scheme. 

Applications are now available on RPW Online and the window will close on 14 February. It is anticipated that payment will be made during the week commencing 24 February, to those eligible farm businesses who do not receive their Glastir Entry or Advanced 2019 payment early in the payment window. 

The 2019 Glastir Entry and Advanced Support Scheme will pay a loan of 50% of an individual farm business’ anticipated Glastir Entry or Advanced 2019 claim value.  The Glastir Entry and Advanced Support Scheme payment will be intercepted from a farm business’ full Glastir Entry or Advanced 2019 claim once processed. 

There are some instances where a loan payment would not be appropriate, for example, a farm business may not be eligible for a Glastir Entry and Advanced Support Scheme payment if the business has an outstanding Grant of Probate or if penalties applied to the Glastir Entry or Advanced claim will not be covered by the Glastir Entry or Advanced balance payment. 

FUW Membership and Operations Manager Caryl Roberts said: “I encourage all our members, who are part of these schemes to apply for the loan. Our county staff are on hand to help with these applications or if you have any questions about eligibility - just give your local office a call and make an appointment.”

Farming in Wales is solution to climate change says FUW

Farming in Wales has a big part to play in addressing the climate change crisis and farmers are geared up to do just that, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has said.

But addressing the key findings in the latest ‘Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK’ by the Committee on Climate change, Union President Glyn Roberts warned of the dangers of focussing on livestock production or inappropriate tree planting. 

“This report highlights some critical issues, including the need for a strong UK food production sector and the dangers of delivering UK emissions reductions at the expense of increasing our reliance on food imported from countries with far greater carbon footprints,” said Mr Roberts.

Agriculture is currently responsible for around 10% of UK emissions, with methane from livestock production making up just over half of this figure. By comparison, transport and energy make up around a half of all UK emissions.

“This means that if we stopped producing food completely in the UK, 90 percent of the problem would still be there,” said Mr Roberts.

“Agriculture alone can’t fix the global problem and it will take each and every single one of us to take a hard look at what we consume and produce in terms of food, energy, electronics, motoring, travel and make adjustments. 

“Farmers in Wales want to and are playing their part, and as acknowledged by the Committee switching away from Welsh and UK produced red meat would increase the nation’s carbon footprint because we have some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of meat reared anywhere in the world.”

Mr Roberts said that for this reason the FUW welcomed the fact that the Committee had backed its calls for a robust post-Brexit trade policy which reflects the lower carbon footprint of UK produce.

Commenting on the call to increase UK forestry cover from 13% to at least 17% by 2050 by planting around 30,000 hectares (90 – 120 million trees) of broadleaf and conifer woodland each year, Mr Roberts said: “Our members are fully supportive of appropriate tree planting where this does not undermine farm productivity and the environment, and regularly highlight the obstacles they come across when they try to plant trees.”

FUW Meirionnydd AGM puts the spotlight on future of red meat industry

The Meirionnydd Branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales is putting the spotlight on the future of the red meat industry post Brexit at its annual general meeting. 

Themed ‘Red Meat – the next 20 years’, those joining the meeting can look forward to hearing from experts such as Gwyn Howells, Chief Executive of Hybu Cig Cymru; Rhys Davies, Chief Executive of Farmers’ Marts, Dolgellau; Wyn Williams, Senior Livestock buyer at Dunbia and Dewi Williams, partner at the recently established local abattoir ‘Cig Eryri’ at Cae Iago Ffestiniog. 

The AGM is held at Neuadd y Parc near Bala on Friday 31 January at 7.30 pm. 

FUW Meirionnydd county chairman Sion Ifans said: “The meeting is held at a crucial milestone  - 31 January - our last official day as members of the European Union.  

“It should be a thought-provoking event, where we will look at the challenges facing the red meat sector in the coming years. The event is open to all, and we very much hope that as many as possible will be able to join us that evening.” 

Those attending the evening can look forward to a short presentation from each of the speakers as well as a question and answer session. 

For further information, contact FUW Meirionnydd County Office by calling 01341 422298 or  emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

‘We need a partnership deal based on commitment, support and sustainability’, Union President says

“We need a partnership deal based on commitment, support and sustainability” - that was the call from Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts at the annual farmhouse breakfast event in Cardiff, which was sponsored by Llyr Hughes Griffiths AM (Tuesday, 21 January).

Addressing Government Ministers, Assembly Members, industry stakeholders and civil servants, he said: “A new Assembly election is not that far away and our nation is at a crossroads. European membership is over; long-standing trade arrangements are up for grabs and, crucially, fundamental funding is to be redefined.

“With so much at stake, it is essential that we all play a part in healing divisions and encouraging the strongest democratic participation.”  

Mr Roberts highlighted that Wales’ rich network of family farms supports and fuels local communities, pump primes the circular economy and protects and nourishes our special Welsh culture and identity. 

Farmers in Wales, he said, are committed to doing everything they can but the Welsh Government had a role to play too. 

“Farmers look after our precious landscape for local people and visitors to enjoy every day of the year. Our grass-based, rain refreshed, livestock production system is one of the world’s most sustainable.

“Our farmers harness, encourage, replenish and replace the planet’s natural resources. Our ewes, lambs and cattle are raised with the highest welfare standards. We work with nature; we produce in harmony with the planet.

“This honest way of providing wholesome food must not be spoken of in the same breath as those intensive farming empires in other parts of the world that readily pillage the environment for profit.

“We need your help to climb above the noise; your help to promote our timeless story, our way of producing and our farming champions.”

Addressing the role farmers in Wales are willing to play in producing more than just food, he said: “Our industry can continue to lead the way with the Welsh Government’s alternative energy ambitions. Between 2010 and 2017, with Government intervention, renewable energy production in Wales doubled.”

But it doesn’t end with renewable energy production, Mr Roberts stressed. “Sustainability is not just about our industry’s positive contributions to the environmental necessity of combatting climate change. 

Cattle Slaughterings Due to Bovine TB Unsustainable says FUW

The latest data relating to bovine TB in Wales has revealed an alarming and unsustainable rise in the number of cattle slaughtered due to this disease. 

According to recent data, the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales in the 12 months to October 2019 was 12,742 and this is the highest number on record. 

Indeed, whilst the most recent data reveals a 12% fall in New Herd Incidents in the 12 months to October 2019, the number of cattle slaughtered over the same period was 24% higher than the previous year.  

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Although the data from TB Dashboard shows improvement in some areas, the number of cattle slaughtered remains unsustainably high.  Just 917 cattle were culled in 1996 due to this disease and it is a sad and disturbing fact that the Welsh cattle sector has now become somewhat used to cattle slaughterings reaching the many thousands each year.”

The Union President added that losing TB-free status is devastating to farming families and their businesses.  “The loss of precious stock and the restrictions on a farm business can be incredibly destructive and it is extremely distressing for our members who have worked hard to gain TB-free status, only to lose it again in the subsequent years.

Concern expressed by FUW County officers over implications of National Trust tree planting plans for tenants

Farmers’ Union of Wales’ (FUW) staff have expressed major concerns regarding the implications for members, who are National Trust tenants, given the Trust’s plans to plant large numbers of trees on their land. 

The concerns were expressed during a meeting of the Union’s County Executive Officers who represent members in Wales’ twelve FUW county regions, some of which include large areas of land owned by the trust.

On Thursday (January 9) the General Director of the Trust revealed plans to grow 20 million trees over the next 10 years by planting saplings or removing livestock to allow self-seeding and dozens of farm tenancies are to be altered as they come up for renewal to cut sheep and cattle numbers.

To achieve their target, the Trust is looking to spend about £90 million creating 18,000 hectares of woodland, increasing the proportion of Trust land that is forest from 10 % to 17 % by 2030.

Speaking after the meeting, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Our members are fully supportive of appropriate tree planting where this does not undermine farm productivity and the environment. Indeed they regularly complain about the obstacles they come across when they try to plant trees.

Ceredigion farmers invite you to join them for breakfast week

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Ceredigion team is once again hosting a farmhouse breakfast on:

Tuesday, January 21: Felinfach Hall, SA48 8AH

Wednesday, January 22: Caerwedros Hall, SA44 6BS

Friday, January 24: Penrhyncoch Hall, SY23 3EL

FUW Ceredigion County Chairman Morys Ioan said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Morys Ioan.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Ceredigion office on 01570 424 515. 

Brecon and Radnor farmers invite you to join them for breakfast

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Brecon and Radnor team is hosting a farmhouse breakfast on Friday 24 January at Maescar Hall, Sennybridge.

FUW Brecon and Radnor County Chairman Dwylan Davies said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind. It is also a great opportunity for members to meet our new County Executive Officer Catrin Price.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” he added.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Brecon and Radnor office on 01982 554030. 

Carmarthen farmers invite you for breakfast

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Carmarthenshire team is once again hosting farmhouse breakfasts, between 8 - 11 am, on:

Thursday, January 23 at Pontyates Welfare Hall, Llanelli, SA15 5TR 

Friday, January 24 at Llanarthne Village Hall, SA32 8JD

FUW Carmarthenshire County Chairman Philip Jones said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Philip Jones.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Carmarthen office on 01267 237974. 

Anglesey farmers open kitchen for breakfast

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.


In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Anglesey team is once again hosting a farmhouse breakfast on Saturday 18 January at the Anglesey Showground.


FUW Anglesey County Chairman Richard Williams said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

Join Montgomeryshire farmers for breakfast this January

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Montgomeryshire team is once again hosting a farmhouse breakfast on:

Monday, January 20: Cafe Maengwyn, Machynlleth

Wednesday, January 22: Dyffryn Cafe, Foel

Friday, January 24: Mark & Helen Williams, Penderw, Forden

FUW Montgomeryshire County Chairman Bryn Francis said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Bryn Francis.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Newtown office on 01686 626889. 

 

Pembrokeshire farmers invite you for breakfast

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Pembrokeshire team is once again hosting farmhouse breakfasts on:

Tuesday, January 21: Canolfan Hermon, SA36 0DT

Friday, January 24: Crundale Hall, SA62 4DF

FUW Pembrokeshire County Chairman Alun Phillips said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfasts every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Alun Phillips.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Haverfordwest office on 01437 762913. 

Caernarfonshire farmers open kitchens for breakfast week

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Caernarfonshire team is once again hosting a series of farmhouse breakfasts.

They are held on: 

Saturday, January 18: Llechnant, Tain Lon, Clynnogfawr, Gwynedd, LL54 5DE                

Monday, January 20: Cefn Cae, Rowen, Conwy, LL32 8YT                        

Wednesday, January 22: Caffi Tŷ Newydd, ℅ Hirwaun Farm,  Uwchmynydd, LL53 8BY    

Thursday, January 23: Moel y Ci, c/o Ffridd, Tregarth, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 4BB            

Friday, January 24: Dylasau Uchaf, Padog, Betws y Coed, Conwy, LL24 0NF           

Friday, January 24: Caffi Bryncir, Mart Bryncir, Bryncir,  Garndolbenmaen, Gwynedd, LL51 9LX    

To book your seat at the table, contact the farms directly or the county office in Caernarfon to arrange a time for you to attend any one of the breakfasts, which will cost £10 per person.

FUW Caernarfonshire Senior CEO Gwynedd Watkin said: “I look forward to our farmhouse breakfasts every year. We can start the day together in a positive and healthy way and at the same time raise money for our charitable causes which are the DPJ Foundation and the Fund for the 2021 Boduan National Eisteddfod Crown, which is to be donated by the FUW Caernarfonshire County. 

“Over the last 10 years, the Caernarfonshire breakfasts alone have raised over £50,000 and we’re looking for yet another good turnout this year. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind. As they say, eat breakfast like a King.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

FUW Caernarfonshire County Chairman Dafydd Martin Williams added: “The farmhouse breakfasts are a highlight in our calendar every year. I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea.” 

For more information on how to book your seat at the breakfast table contact the Caernarfonshire office on 01286 672541.

Sheep and Goat keepers - have you submitted your annual inventory for 2020?

Sheep and goat keepers in Wales are being reminded to submit their annual inventory form by Thursday 30 January, to avoid potential penalties.

The form can be submitted by either logging onto the EID Cymru website (www.eidcymru.org), or by returning the paper form in the pre-paid envelope.

FUW Pembrokeshire County Executive Officer Rebecca Voyle said: “The annual inventory of sheep and goats is a legal requirement and it is vital that you recorded all the sheep and goats of which you are the registered keeper, by CPH location on 1 January 2020. 

“The number of sheep/goats you declare must include breeding sheep, rams, ram lambs, store and finished lambs, cull ewes/rams, goats and any other sheep.

“It is important that you do this to avoid a potential cross-compliance penalty and an increased likelihood of an inspection.”

If you require assistance, contact the EIDCymru service helpline 01970 636959 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Glamorgan farmers host breakfast events to promote quality premium local produce

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Glamorgan team is once again hosting a farmhouse breakfast on:

Tuesday, January 21: Cwm Farm Shop, Treorchy, CF42 6DL

Friday, January 24: Cowbridge Lesser Hall, CF71 7DD

A joint breakfast with the FUW Gwent team has also been arranged on Monday, January 20 at Llanbradach Community Centre, Caerphilly, CF83 3LS.

FUW Glamorgan County Chairman Richard Walker said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Richard Walker.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Glamorgan office on 01446 774838. 

Denbigh and Flint farmers invite you for breakfast week

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Denbigh and Flint team is once again hosting a farmhouse breakfast on:

Friday, January 24: Cefn Meiriadog Chapel festri, Llanelwy

Saturday, January 25: Rhosesmor Village Hall, Rhosesmor, CH7 6PQ

FUW Denbigh County Chairman Dylan Roberts said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added FUW Flint County Chairman Melvyn Vaughan.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Ruthin office on 01824 707198. 

Meirionnydd farmers open kitchens for breakfast week

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) Meirionnydd team is once again hosting a farmhouse breakfast on:

Wednesday, January 22: Llanfrothen village cafe/shop

Thursday, January 23: Tymawr, Carrog

Friday, January 24: Brynuchaf, Llanymawddwy

Saturday, January 25: Y Ganolfan at Pennal, near Machynlleth

FUW Meirionnydd County Chairman Sion Ifans said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfast every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week (Monday 20 January - Sunday 26 January) also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow in a sustainable way, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Sion Ifans.

To book your seat at the table, contact the FUW’s Meirionnydd office on 01341 422298. 

The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru seek the votes of Dwyfor Meirionnydd farmers

Members of Eryri and Meirionnydd Young Farmers Clubs, as well as NFU Cymru and the FUW, recently had the opportunity to hear from two of the General Election prospective candidates at Porthmadog Football Club.

Liz Saville Roberts and Tomos Dafydd Davies, from Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives respectively, came along to address a strong audience of farmers who were keen to hear about both parties' vision for the industry.

Members took the opportunity to put questions to the candidates which focused on rural banking, financing agri-businesses, as well as environmental issues, and law and order.

But Brexit was undoubtedly the main themes of the evening with the issues raised all revolving around the potential effects of leaving the European Union, on the livelihood of the electorate.

Sion Ifans, County Chairman of the FUW and chair of the meeting, said: “It was good to see both candidates giving their time to talk to the agricultural industry - it is encouraging that both parties see the importance of the agricultural industry from within the Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency.”

Emlyn Roberts, County Chairman of NFU Cymru added: “Both candidates have been very open in their discussions with us. Those who listened to them have a broader understanding of their proposals and I hope the discussion that has taken place will help them reach a decision on where to cast their vote.

New Year message from FUW President

Even before December 12th, 2019 had been one of the most unusual periods in British politics in recent decades, as arguments over Brexit further divided Parliament, political parties and the nation; Government ministers continued to resign in droves; three proposed Brexit dates came and went; MPs were expelled from or defected between parties; and the Westminster Government was defeated in court cases that went to the very heart of the UK’s parliamentary democracy.

Against this often bewildering background, growing concerns about the impact of climate change led to the rapid rise of the Extinction Rebellion movement and commitments to slash UK greenhouse gas emissions, while for Welsh farmers it has increasingly felt that the media has deliberately adopted an anti-red meat agenda by failing to discriminate between the environmental footprint of different forms of food production around the globe.

Closer to home, with rock-bottom beef prices already shattering confidence, the Welsh Government’s plans to introduce costly regulations in the form of an effective all-Wales Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) merely added to fears, while the conciliatory tone of a consultation on future Welsh farm support suggested that at least some of the dangers of the proposals put forward in 2018 had been recognised - but not the core worry that Wales deserves a dynamic, carefully crafted scheme aimed at tackling modern challenges, rather than one based on the decades-old concept of payments for environmental public goods.

With the December 12th election results having delivered a seventy-eight seat majority to the Conservatives, including many in traditional Labour-voting constituencies, 2020 will be a very different year to what it might otherwise have been.

Firstly, and most importantly, this majority has meant Parliament has now ratified the EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, meaning the UK will almost certainly leave the European Union on the 31st January 2020, triggering an eleven-month period of UK-EU negotiations during which a long term trade deal with the EU will hopefully be agreed and ratified.

As such, February 1st 2020 marks the start of the ‘real’ Brexit negotiations, and for most people it is likely to feel like very little has changed.

Many have speculated that the extension of the Withdrawal Period to beyond December 2020 is likely, given the complexity of what must be negotiated and the infrastructure, such as new border controls, that must be put in place before the end of the period.

While keeping the promise to ‘get Brexit done’ rapidly will be a political focus for Boris Johnson, the FUW maintains its long-held view that we must get Brexit done safely, over a realistic timescale that ensures a UK- EU trade deal which delivers full and unfettered access for our Welsh produce to EU markets.

With the UK Government now representing many former Labour constituencies where jobs in manufacturing and other areas are particularly reliant on access to EU markets, and a majority that significantly dilutes the power within the Conservative party of those who support harder forms of Brexit, this raises some hopes that an UK-EU trade deal which is more favourable for Welsh farmers might be secured.

However, the obstacles to achieving this are significant, given the apparent clash between the stated objectives of the Conservative Party in relation to increased sovereignty and freedom to trade with non-EU countries, and the EU’s desire to protect its internal markets and standards.

Of course, with February 1st 2020 also marking the date on which formal trade negotiations can start with countries such as the USA - a country with an economy which is seven times more powerful than that of the UK - the risk that we might sign up to disadvantageous deals which introduce unfair competition from farmers in countries where health, hygiene, welfare and environmental standards fall well short of those required of us, remains a real spectre.

Far from being unfounded, there is plenty of evidence that such disadvantageous trade deals could not only be struck, but that UK farmers could simultaneously be hit with further restrictions and regulations: Successive agriculture ministers have spoken about raising UK standards and restricting animal movements after Brexit, while leaked notes from informal UK-US trade discussions held earlier this year refer to lowering food standards and reducing food labelling to allow imports of US food, as well as the exclusion of conditions relating to climate change from any future trade agreement.

With environmental issues, and in particular greenhouse gas emissions, a clear priority for all UK political parties, and a US administration which denies the very existence of man-made climate change and allows production standards UK farmers would regard as unethical, the political desire to show a trade deal can be reached with the US must not be allowed to compromise our farming and food industry.

Critical to trade negotiations over the coming year will be the tariffs and Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs)  which apply on imported goods - taxes and limits which can be adjusted in order to secure better deals with other countries. But with the Import Tariff (Reduction) Bill 2017-19 setting draft tariff and TRQ rates at bargain basement levels for agricultural imports, and suggestions by the Prime Minister that checks on imports from Northern Ireland may not even be applied, it is imperative that the new UK Government review these rates and align them with those of the EU. And if there is any suggestion that UK producers and standards are to be compromised through a trade deal, whether with the US or elsewhere, our industry must be prepared to stand up and make its objections known.

Whichever political party they represent, MPs from rural constituencies in particular must recognise the dangers for their constituents of trade deals which disadvantage farming, while we must hope that, in the interest of a well-functioning democracy, those parties which have been so damaged by the election quickly regroup to take up the essential role of becoming effective in opposition, and scrutinising Government.

While the Brexit issue clearly inflicted damage on Labour and the Liberal Democrats at the 2019 election, this was far from being the only factor, and many Labour politicians have been open in expressing their fear that the party has lost touch with traditional working communities through its adoption of a far-left cosmopolitan agenda.

As the central Labour Party take stock, and deliberate as to whether or not this is the case, it is also important for Welsh Labour and Assembly Members from all parties to do the same: After twenty years of devolution, Cardiff Bay seems more remote than ever for the working families in our farming and rural communities, while radical policies such as plans to open up rural access for canoeists and mountain-bikers seem aimed far more at pleasing the cosmopolitan urban elite than meeting the needs of hard-working families.

Such frank statements make uncomfortable reading, but I make no apology for telling it as it is; and with 2020 likely to be critical to the future of our industry we will continue over the coming year to ensure our family farms are placed at the heart of all future policies.

This would not be possible without the commitment of FUW staff and officials across Wales, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work in 2019, and wish all Members, staff and colleagues all the very best for 2020.

FUW looks forward to Farmhouse breakfast week 2020

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and it is a great opportunity to talk and share your thoughts before starting the day.

In order to promote the health benefits and have a good catch up before the day starts, Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) teams across the country are once again hosting a variety of farmhouse breakfasts (Monday 20 - Sunday 26 January 2020) and the FUW is also once again taking the farmhouse breakfast to Cardiff on Tuesday 21 January.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We all get really excited about our farmhouse breakfasts every year. We can start the day together with family, friends and neighbours, in a positive way and at the same time raise money for our charitable cause, the DPJ Foundation.

“All of us are looking forward to yet another good turnout in January. It’s fair to say that a healthy start is not just good for a healthy heart but also for a healthy mind.”

The FUW’s Farmhouse breakfast week also provides an opportunity to promote the quality premium local produce that farmers grow for us every day of the year, and throughout breakfast week the FUW will shine a spotlight on the importance of our rural economy.

“I hope many of you will be able to join us for breakfast. We want you to be a part of what we do, and share your thoughts and worries about the state of the industry, tell us your stories and help us to understand how we can help each other, and what better way to do that than around a table where we share great food and have a cup of tea,” added Glyn Roberts.

Details for breakfast events near you can be obtained from the local FUW office.

Ceredigion farmers turn out in force to quiz election candidates

Farmers from Ceredigion turned out in force to quiz general election candidates at a hustings organised by the local Farmers’ Union of Wales branch and Ceredigion YFC.

The event, which was held on Wednesday 4 December at Lampeter Rugby Club and chaired by YFC Young Farmer of the Year Endaf Griffiths, heard from Ben Lake - Plaid Cymru, Mark Williams - Liberal Democrats, Dinah Mullholland - Labour, Amanda Jenner - Conservatives, Chris Simpson - Green Party and Gethin James - Brexit Party.

Speaking after the event, FUW Ceredigion County Chairman Morys Ioan said: “ I would like to thank everyone who attended the hustings and used the opportunity to find out what each of candidates have to offer in terms of agriculture and their thoughts on wider farming matters. 

“We had a very interesting and lively discussion on a number of agricultural topics, mainly Brexit, TB and what the future of agriculture could bring for young farmers. I hope our members now feel better placed to make an informed decision when they take to the polls in just a few days time.”

Montgomeryshire farmers get chance to ask Election hopefuls about #FarmingMatters

Farmers from Montgomeryshire are invited to join an election hustings, organised by the local Farmers’ Union of Wales branch, to quiz General Election hopefuls about #FarmingMatters.

The hustings, which will take place on Monday 9 December at Welshpool Livestock Market, starting at 12.30 pm, will give members the opportunity to hear from the candidates about their respective parties’ policies for agriculture. 

Confirmed speakers are Craig Williams  - Conservatives, Kait Duerden - Labour, Gwyn Wigley Evans  - Gwlad Gwlad and Kishan Devani - Liberal Democrats.

FUW Montgomeryshire County Chairman Bryn Francis said: “In a period of political uncertainty, where our future trading relationship with the European Union remains unclear, this is an important opportunity for every farmer to quiz their prospective member of parliament on how they view the way forward. 

“With much of the debate centred on national and international issues, this event is also an opportunity for our farming members to engage with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community. 

“I would encourage members of the farming community to take up this opportunity to pose questions to those that seek to represent them in the next parliament at Westminster.”

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire farmers quiz election hopefuls at hustings

Farmers from Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire came together to quiz general election hopefuls in an agricultural husting event, which was held at Carmarthen Athletic Rugby Club, on Monday 2 December. 

The well-attended event, which was hosted in partnership with NFU Cymru and Carmarthenshire YFC, heard from Simon Hart (Conservative), Marc Tierney (Labour), Alistair Cameron, Welsh Liberal Democrats and Dr Rhys Thomas Plaid Cymru, as the candidates outlined their party policies before the floor was opened to questions from the audience. 

FUW Carmarthen chairman Philip Jones said: “I would like to thank the candidates who joined us on the night for their contributions and the thought-provoking conversations.  

“It was by no means a single subject discussion and our farming members engaged with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community.  

“I hope our members now have a clearer idea of what the parties are offering and feel that they can make an informed decision when they take to the polls in a few days time.” 

Young farmers hear of robotic benefits on Pembrokeshire dairy farm

Nestled just outside of the small Pembrokeshire village of Puncheston, near Haverfordwest, is Fagwrfran East farm, home to the Williams family, and 150 dairy cows. 

Here Michael Williams farms with his parents Gareth and Annette, producing milk for cheese on a First Milk contract. When the family bought the farm in 1981, it was derelict and hadn't been farmed for a few years. It had been mainly a beef and sheep farm but as Gareth and Annette had both come from dairy farms, and dairy was their passion, it was converted to a dairy farm.  

Gareth and Annette started milking with a few cows in a second hand 8 abreast parlour. They progressively built the dairy herd up and whilst Michael studied for his A levels they installed a 10/20 swing over herringbone style parlour. 

Michael returned home to the farm in 2006 after completing a Master degree in Exploration Geology at Cardiff University and after a few years became a partner with his parents in the business. 

The farm continued to grow with investment in buildings, silage pits, slurry storage and lately the Robotic Dairy. Since January 2017 the herd has been milked by DeLaval VMS robots with a third robot installed in the summer of 2018.

Taking a group of young farmers for a tour of the farm, as part of the FUW Academi organised by the Union’s Pembrokeshire branch, Michael explains some of the benefits of doing things differently.

“Milk output has changed dramatically from the conventional system to the robotic system. It’s fair to say the cost of production is higher but the rewards in both animal health and milk quality are worth it. 

“We can produce consistent volumes of high constituent milk which suits our milk contract with First Milk who turn our milk into cheese. The robots allow us to have better control over feeding, and cows who have the potential to produce a lot of milk get the opportunity without the limitations of twice a day milking. 

“Our foot health has improved and our mastitis rates have dropped, and hence we have seen a dramatic reduction in treatments. However, with lower cell counts and a far more hygienic environment from milking to accommodation, we have to be even more vigilant against particular mastitis bugs,” said Michael.

Showing the group the new robots and demonstrating how they work, Michael adds: “There are so many different reports and settings, which provide us with all the information we could possibly need. For example, I can tell if a cow has mastitis 1 day before she actually shows clinical signs. I also know exactly how much milk a cow produces, how often she wants to walk through to be milked or if she is not walking through as often as she did before. There is no place for a poorly cow to hide, the system will pick it up straight away.” 

The cows learn how to use the system, which usually takes them about 15 attempts or 3 days and then they know what to do, he says. 

“Once they have learned how to go through the gate, they get milked automatically if they are ready for milking and if they try to go through too often, they get redirected to the exit. 

“This type of system works well for us. Essentially, we never finish milking, the system runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The cows do it themselves and are feeling better for it.”

But even though the milking happens automatically, Michael still has to make sure that everything runs smoothly. For that to happen he says, maintenance is key.

“Just because the cows get milked automatically, doesn’t mean there is no work for me. The system and robots need maintaining and looking after. Maintenance is key to make sure the robots work well. You wouldn’t get on a plane that hasn’t been serviced would you, so this is no different.

“We have also learned that sand bedding doesn’t work with robots because the grains get into all the little spaces and cause problems. So we use sawdust instead, which is renewable and doesn’t break the machines,” he explains. 

The milking cows are fed a TMR (total mixed ration) of grass silage, maize and some blend depending on analysis of the forages to balance the diet. They are also fed a concentrate in the robot depending on the stage of lactation and yield. 

Dry cows are fed a more mature late cut silage which is baled, this is then mixed with straw and the dry cows are housed separately to the main milking herd. Youngstock will all be reared on the farm with beef animals sold as store cattle.   

“The silage for the dairy cows is made using a multicut technique whereby the silage is cut around the 12th May and every 30-32days thereafter through the summer. Around 40acres of maize is grown on the farm and this acreage will probably increase going forward,” Michael explains. 

5 years ago the family looked at their slurry storage and utilization, deciding they needed to be able to time their applications better with the aim of reducing bought in nutrients. 

“Due to our high rainfall, we decided a slurry tower gave us the best solution. All of the yards are covered avoiding any clean rainwater entering the storage. The yards and robot unit all feed into a small reception pit (approx. 150,000 gallons). 

“During the summer this is emptied after each cut of silage and during the winter the reception pit contents are pumped to the tower (600,000 gallons) to store until more favourable weather conditions permit us to apply it to the fields in the spring,” Michael says. 

The system has allowed the family to greatly reduce the amount of bought-in fertilizer with no P&K fertilizer used at all and only targeted Nitrogen applications. Regular soil sampling also allows them to monitor the soil indices and adjust application rates. 

Aware of the proposed slurry regulations which may come into force in  2020, Michael has concerns: “Currently our storage and application rates would meet proposed changes to manure use but we are always looking to improve our situation and covers for the slurry tower and reception pit are being looked at. 

“Any changes to legislation that includes a dated closed period for spreading manures could be problematic, even for us with adequate storage. It is better to be able to apply whilst weather and crop/ground conditions are favorable rather than following a calendar date.”

 

 

The changes implemented over the years, from better slurry management to automated milking mean that the family have a more flexible schedule on the farm. 

“There is no tie at both ends of the day with milking and this is especially seen in the afternoon when jobs would be wound up early to go and fetch cows and milk. I find more time to help with our children before and after school and my father has more time to dedicate to rearing calves. 

“This has also seen improved health and reduced treatments within the calf shed. There are often days when we are busy with silage or simply having a family day off-farm and we know that the robotic unit continues to tick over and cows remain happy and content,” he said.

Brexit fears and farmings pivotal role in keeping economy going highlighted by Tredegar farming family

The implications of a ‘hard Brexit’ and fear of losing free access to the EU’s Single Market, as well as the pivotal role farming families play in keeping the Welsh economy going, were highlighted by the Langford family from Tredegar in a meeting with local AM and former Welsh Agricultural Minister, Alun Davies.

Wayne, his wife Tracy and daughter Emily, farm at Penrhyn Farm, Nantybwch, Tredegar, which is situated 1,100 feet above sea level at the head of the Sirhowy valley.

The typical family farm extends to 140 acres, half-owned, half tenanted, plus hill rights on the Llangynidr Common and is home to 300 Talybont type Welsh Mountain ewes plus followers, which are kept together with 20 Galloway cross Angus Suckler cows.

Wayne regards the Brexit negotiations pivotal to the future of Welsh Hill farms and was keen to highlight the vital role farmers play in preserving the rural economy.

Speaking on farm, he said: “Farming matters in so many ways that are seldom realised. Not only do farms produce food but they are also the cornerstone of our rural economies. Family farms, in particular, are at the heart of our rural economy, caring for our landscape, and of course our culture.

“They make innumerable other contributions to the well-being of Wales and the UK. Central to such benefits is the production of food and the improvement in domestic food security. 

“All those businesses who supply essential services, materials, and machinery to farmers, through to the farmers themselves and their products, to the processors who turn them into food, and the consumers themselves, have a critical part to play in our rural economy. And that is at stake if we get Brexit wrong.”

Wayne is particularly concerned about a bad Brexit outcome and highlighted that as an industry, Welsh agriculture is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of losing access to the affluent mainland European markets which are on our doorstep.

“The implications of a ‘hard Brexit’ and losing free access to the EU’s Single Market would be particularly acute for Wales. As a family, we are very concerned about it all and urge the next UK Government to do all it can to ensure that those fears don’t become a reality. 

“Of course these concerns don’t fall into the remit of the Welsh Government but I would urge every politician, whether in Cardiff or Westminster, to work in genuine partnership with the agricultural industry and develop a framework of common principles which underpin further policy development. It really is crucial to ensure the economic and environmental sustainability of family farms, for the sake of all our futures.”

During his visit, the former Minister, who was born close to Penrhyn Farm, emphasised that he realised the vital role that farming plays in preserving the uplands of Wales. 

“I would like to thank Alun Davies for joining us on the farm visit and listening to our member’s concerns. I feel encouraged that he pledged to support innovative ways of maintaining stock on common land in order to preserve the ecological balance, and environmental stability of the commons,” said FUW Gwent CEO Glyn Davies.

Contact

Farmers' Union of Wales
Llys Amaeth
Plas Gogerddan
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion
SY23 3BT

01970 820820
post@fuw.org.uk

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