FUW welcomes Welsh Government announcement to change on-farm slaughter measures around bovine TB

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has today welcomed the news that the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies accepts in full the recommendations presented to him by the newly established Technical Advisory Group on a suite of measures that will provide flexibility for the on-farm slaughter of cattle with bovine TB.

Farming families, already under emotional and financial pressure from TB breakdowns in cattle have been reduced to tears due to the harsh and harrowing experience of watching cattle being put down on their farmyards.

Dai Miles, FUW Deputy President said: “This is certainly welcome news that the Cabinet Secretary has listened to the concerns of the industry and most importantly taken action by accepting these recommendations in full.”

The TAG conducted its first meeting on 15 April under the guidance of Professor Glyn Hewinson, who is also chair of Sêr Cymru at the TB Centre of Excellence in Aberystwyth.

The majority of on-farm slaughter cases are due to cattle testing positive for bovine TB whilst under medicated withdrawal periods. Slaughtering also occurs on farmyards when cows are heavily pregnant or within the first week post-calving and are not permitted to be transported off farm under animal transport regulations.

Dai Miles continued: “The FUW were invited to provide written and oral evidence to the TAG for consideration, and we’re pleased that our work supported the changes announced today.

“Our recommendations were aimed at reducing the number of cattle slaughtered on-farm following bovine TB-breakdowns and to provide support in circumstances where on-farm slaughter is unavoidable.

“We welcome the pace at which this process has taken place and hope that these actions can be implemented as soon as possible to reduce the occurrence of on-farm slaughter. The effects of this process has a long-term detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of our farming families.

“However, we must not forget that the need to discuss the subject of alleviating the horrors of on-farm slaughter looks to remedy the symptom rather than address the root cause of the issue. This continues to be the abysmal track record of a long standing ineffective TB eradication programme in Wales.

“We will continue to work in partnership with the TAG and other stakeholders to address other ways in which the TB eradication programme can be improved for the benefit of all cattle farmers in Wales,” FUW Deputy President concluded.

Welsh Government announcement on BPS extension welcome news for the farming industry, says FUW

FUW President Ian Rickman, has today welcomed the news that the Welsh Government is to maintain the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to support Welsh farmers alongside the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) preparatory phase for 2025.

Responding to the statement made by Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “We welcome the statement made by the Cabinet Secretary on the future of farming in Wales and his plans to work in partnership with the farming industry.

“Since the last consultation, we have consistently called on the Welsh Government to extend the BPS at current levels for next year given the amount of change required in regards to the Sustainable Farming Scheme within the proposed time frame.

“This announcement on maintaining the BPS alongside an SFS preparatory phase next year is a major step in the right direction. It will provide both stability for farming businesses and a solid foundation for meaningful discussions.

“The development of the SFS represents the most significant change in agricultural policy in Wales for decades. It is therefore reassuring that the Cabinet Secretary maintains that the Scheme will not be introduced until it is ready.”

The statement also refers to the continuation of rural investment schemes, including consideration of extending the Habitat Wales Scheme and support for organic producers.

“It is essential that we avoid any gaps in support during the transition from the BPS to the SFS which underpins the economic sustainability of farming businesses. The continuation of such support is therefore welcomed while we work to design a Scheme that delivers for farming businesses, our rural communities and the environment.

“While we welcome the statement today which demonstrates a willingness to listen, to work with the industry and support rural Wales, we’ll wait to hear the finer details through the Cabinet Secretary’s oral statement in plenary this afternoon. 

“There has been a real frustration within the industry over recent months, and scrutiny of the finer details will be crucial as this work progresses over the coming weeks.”

“FUW members are at the heart of our organisation and we will continue to do our utmost to ensure that we achieve the best possible outcomes for our family farms and the wider industry,” concluded Ian Rickman.

Sustainable Farming Scheme Ministerial Roundtable welcomed, but must deliver meaningful change, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed an announcement from the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs outlining his plans to create a Ministerial Roundtable which will consider the evidence and lead on the development of a revised Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

In response to the statement, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “One of our key asks following the consultation was to establish a small focused SFS design stakeholder group tasked with considering details of different elements of the scheme, along with payment rates and overall budgetary requirements.

“We therefore welcome today's announcement which outlines plans to establish such a group, providing us with a formal platform to scrutinise and rework the scheme so that it properly delivers for Welsh farmers and our rural communities.

“However, I reiterate this message again; the scheme needs far more than touching up around the edges. It needs a radical rethink and this group must now deliver meaningful change within the timeframe presented to us.”

The Cabinet Secretary’s statement also highlights how one of the first tasks of the Ministerial Roundtable will be to look at any further and alternative proposals to achieve additional carbon sequestration within the SFS.

“This development is also welcomed given the urgent need to evaluate the science around net zero and carbon sequestration to help develop the SFS. This element needs to take into account all actions farmers can undertake to make progress towards net zero in a sustainable way.

“The engagement we’ve had as a Union with the Cabinet Secretary and his officials to date has been positive and this statement reflects those discussions. The FUW is ready to burn the midnight oil to ensure we get to the right place before the end of the year, in order that this scheme is workable both economically and environmentally.” concluded Mr Rickman.

FUW welcomes long awaited grant support for slurry storage infrastructure

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the announcement made today (29 April) by Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, that two funding schemes to support on-farm investment will shortly be opening with an allocated budget of £20 million.

FUW President Ian Rickman commented: “Despite concerns we’ve raised previously in terms of this promised funding as a proportion of the estimated overall costs to the industry of over £360 million, this long awaited support will be welcomed by many in light of the recent wet weather.”

The announcement follows a recent Extreme Weather Summit during which the FUW President made a call for urgent capital grant funding in light of the challenges farmers are facing whilst attempting to increase their slurry storage capacities.

The maximum grant value offered through both the Nutrient Management Investment Scheme and the Small Grants - Yard Coverings Scheme will increase to 50% for certain project costs. The Cabinet Secretary encourages applicants to consider preparing their planning applications and associated documents as soon as possible.

“We also called for derogations and flexibility around certain scheme requirements. It is therefore encouraging that Rural Payments Wales will consider potential derogations on a case by case basis for those who are finding difficulties in meeting certain contract requirements as a result of the prolonged wet weather.

“This statement shows an example of co-working where our concerns result in prompt action from the Welsh Government. We sincerely hope that this positive engagement continues in the context of other fundamental policy developments,” added FUW President, Ian Rickman.

The Fair Dealing Obligations (Milk) Regulations 2024 set to come into force

Defra have announced that The Fair Dealing Obligations (Milk) Regulations 2024 have been laid, with commencement of the regulations due on the 9th of July 2024 for any new milk purchasing contract. Concurrently a period of transition to compliance for existing contracts is to be completed by the 9th of July 2025.

These regulations are a product of evolution from the voluntary dairy code of best practice on contractual relationships in the dairy sector that was introduced in 2012.

FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee Acting Chair Brian Walters said: “The voluntary dairy code was established to stamp out unfair contractual arrangements between milk producers and purchasers which could in turn help stabilise the UK dairy industry.

“Despite many processors supporting the values of the voluntary dairy code, the lack of legislation meant that some processors continued with unfair and underhanded contractual expectations leaving dairy farmers extremely vulnerable to market changes.”

In June 2020 the ‘contractual practice in the UK dairy sector’ consultation was published of which responses provided direction for the newly made Fair Dealing Obligations (Milk) Regulations 2024.

“We discussed various drafts of the regulations as a committee and the Union presented those views to Welsh Government and Defra representatives.

“Most importantly, we managed to ensure that the regulations will apply to all milk purchasing contracts across the UK which avoids any risk of creating a two-tiered market.

“Processors will now be required to review their contracts over the next twelve months in order to become compliant with these regulations, and I am hopeful that as a result of these changes there will be a fairer foundation for selling milk across Great Britain,” he added.


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