Agricultural Policy

News in brief October 2021

i) Ireland agrees new trade deal with China

The Republic of Ireland has agreed a new trade deal with China which will allow for the export of sheepmeat and breeding pigs.

China accounts for 38 percent of global sheepmeat imports (365,000 tonnes), although a large amount of this will be from countries which are net exporters of red meat such as New Zealand and Australia.

ii) Carbon neutral potatoes from Wales to be sold in Co-Op

The UK’s first carbon neutral potatoes grown by Puffin Produce in Pembrokeshire will be sold across 200 Co-Op stores.

What are known as Root Zero potatoes are sourced from local farmers and are carbon neutral and grown sustainability. The carbon footprint calculations also include the footprint from the entire supply chain.

Puffin Produce has set a target to reduce the carbon intensity of Root Zero potatoes by 51% by 2030 and its operational emissions by 46% by 2030.

iii) German Agriculture Minister calls for more consistent standards in future trade deals

German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner has urged the European Commission that calling for a Green Deal for EU agriculture while not maintaining the same ambition in free trade agreements with third countries will place domestic farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

This is one of the many concerns the FUW and others have raised in regards to the free trade agreements between the UK and Australia and New Zealand.

Water Resources ‘NVZ’ Regulations still apply despite review

The FUW is reminding its members that the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) regulations still apply despite the ongoing Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Senedd Committee inquiry.

The FUW responded to the Committee inquiry with written evidence in September which can be viewed here.

The Welsh Government has also published an Excel Farm Workbook which can be used (although not compulsory) to help with completing the calculations.

As a reminder, the regulations that came into effect on 1st April 2021 are below:

RABI Big Farming Survey reveals alarming statistics

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has published the results from its Big Farming Survey, the largest ever research project in England and Wales relating to the wellbeing of farming people.

The survey ran from January to March 2021 with the goals to:

  • Understand the wellbeing of a farming generation
  • Understand the health of our farmers and their businesses
  • Gain insights into external impacts and pressures
  • Shape future support and services

While more than 50% of the 15,000 plus survey respondents remain optimistic about the future of their farming businesses, the results found that:

  1. 36% of the farming community are probably or possibly depressed
  2. Over one-half of women (58%) experience mild, moderate or severe anxiety
  3. An average of six factors cause stress across the farming community. The most commonly reported sources of stress are; regulation, compliance and inspection, Covid-19, bad/unpredictable weather, loss of subsidies/future trade deals
  4. Over half (52%) of the farming community experience pain and discomfort, one in four have mobility problems and 21% have problems in undertaking usual tasks due to health issues
  5. 59% of respondents believe their business is viable over the next five years.

These alarming results, which demonstrate the importance of providing support for mental health, will be used by the RABI and other farming mental health charities to help shape future services.

Red Tractor publishes first UK Trust in Food Index

Red Tractor has produced a report on the UK’s first Trust in Food Index which analyses whether British consumers trust the food that they eat.

The report is based on 3,500 responses from adults across the UK and examines the degree to which the public understands the relationship between UK food and food standards.

It has revealed that British customers ‘overwhelmingly’ believe that UK food is safe, traceable and of good quality, with 84 percent of consumers trusting UK produced food. From a global context, 73 and 70 percent of consumers trust food from Ireland and New Zealand respectively, yet only 25 percent trust food from the US and 11 percent from China.

It was also revealed that English consumers generally trust food across the UK equally whereas Welsh and Scottish consumers trust their own food more than from other nations.

The final report can be found here:

New ELISA test available for diagnosing sheep scab

Moredun Research Institute, along with the Stoc+ project and the Wales Veterinary Science Centre (WVSC) has developed a new sheep scab ELISA test which is now available via the WVSC.

Stoc+ is a project led by Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) aimed towards working with farmers and vets to promote proactive flock and herd health management. Of the sheep farms taking part in the project, 24 have identified sheep scab as one of their animal health priorities.

Sheep scab is prevalent in around a quarter of Welsh sheep flocks and costs the industry around £12 million every year.

The FUW worked with the Sheep Scab Industry Group to submit an industry-led sheep scab report to Welsh Government in 2018 which recognised the need for coordinated treatment across contiguous premises and outlined a sheep scab control programme which would increase the likelihood of neighbouring farms working together to eradicate scab through a more holistic and workable approach.

Despite a free pilot scheme for the testing of skin scrape samples, the industry is yet to receive the promised £5.1 million for an eradication programme from more than three years ago.