Agricultural Policy

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

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

Eligible dairy farmers - who have lost more than 25% of their income in April and subsequently May - will be entitled to up to £10,000, to cover 70% of their lost income.

Large numbers of Welsh dairy farmers have been hit hard by the seismic changes to dairy supply chains that have occurred as a result of the current pandemic, with many facing devastating financial losses. With farmers unable to access many of the Government’s support schemes due to the eligibility criteria, the Welsh Government package is a welcome lifeline, even though losses on many farms would far exceed the support that has been announced - with some suffering losses that amount to many tens of thousands more than what is being offered.

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

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

During the third reading of the Agriculture Bill, a clause which would prevent future trade deals from allowing food into the UK not produced to the standards required of farmers and processors in the UK was defeated by 328 to 277 votes, having failed to receive the support of the UK Government.

Reviewed UK agricultural global tariffs are a step in the right direction

Earlier this month, the UK Government released the reviewed global tariff rates for trading agricultural products between Most Favoured Nations (MFN) which will come into force after the end of the Brexit transition period.

The reviewed global tariff rates for key Welsh agricultural products, such as lamb and beef, are closely aligned with those applied within the European Union but the FUW has warned that these should not be watered down, whatever the outcome of current trade negotiations.

The importance of aligning agricultural tariffs for key agricultural products is something the FUW made clear in a meeting with Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands, earlier this week.

FUW urges UK Government to issue clarification on different lockdown rules

Earlier this month, the Farmers’ Union of Wales called on the UK Prime Minister to issue urgent clarification that the recent changes to English lockdown rules do not apply to Wales.

The PM’s address to the entire UK Nation on 10th May was described by the FUW as both ‘confusing’ and 'ambiguous'. In particular, the FUW was concerned at the Prime Minister’s comment that ‘you can drive to other destinations’ as this could lead people to wrongly assume they could visit Wales; thereby increasing the risk of introducing the coronavirus to Welsh communities as well as being fined by the police for doing so.

From March 27th to May 11th, police forces across Wales had issued a total of 799 fines for alleged covid-19 restriction breaches and English residents have been flocking over the border to visit Welsh beaches since the announcement.

FUW welcomes TB testing derogation for youngstock

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

Under the derogation, movement restrictions will not be placed on Officially TB Free (OTF) herds if cattle under 180 days are left untested because the vet has judged that testing cannot be conducted in line with current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

The FUW is pleased that the Welsh Government has listened to our concerns surrounding TB testing of youngstock during the pandemic. Many union members are in the covid-19 vulnerable category due to their age and it is important that the rules around TB testing do not risk the health of our key workers producing food during this pandemic.

It is extremely difficult to maintain social distancing rules when testing young calves for TB, therefore this derogation will come as a huge relief to those farmers facing the conflict of adhering to TB rules while also trying to adhere to social distancing rules and protect themselves and their family from illness.

The temporary exemption will be kept under regular review while the social distancing measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak are in force and applies retrospectively from the 23rd of March 2020 until further notice.

 

COVID-19 - Important Information for our members and customers

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Important links relating to the Coronavirus:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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