Agricultural Policy

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.


Coronavirus pandemic must not undermine long-term livestock health

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has written to the Welsh Economy Minister, Ken Skates, in support of the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) call for action to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic does not lead to a future reduction in veterinary capacity.

The current pandemic does not alter the importance of ensuring that staffing levels within veterinary practices are such that 24/7 emergency care for livestock is provided in order to safeguard animal health and welfare. This may require staff to be brought back from furlough and it is essential that the furlough scheme is flexible enough to cope with this type of arrangement in the immediate and long term.

Derbyshire farmers lose out on badger cull legal challenge

Farmers in Derbyshire have lost a legal challenge against the UK Government's decision to cancel badger culling under license in that area.
Farmers in the area were just one day away from commencing badger cull operations before the government directed Natural England to withdraw the licences in September 2019.

Using data from veterinary practitioners, it was estimated that around 77% of new cases of TB in Derbyshire were due to badger infections.

The u-turn was legally challenged as ‘unlawful’, however the final judgement on 13th May dismissed the challenge, subject to appeals. The decision was considered lawful due to political reasons, despite the fact that the farmers met all of the Government’s requirements for a licence.

Farmers in Derbyshire had a reasonable expectation that the license would be granted and the ruling may have significant implications for future bovine TB control.

News in Brief

i. Dairy ‘milk your moments’ campaign launched to increase consumption
A social media, digital and television campaign has been announced which aims to highlight the need for personal moments during lockdown and the positive role fresh milk and dairy play in helping us connect during these challenging times.

AHDB and Dairy UK are working with Defra, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on the 12-week campaign, which goes live next week. It will be funded through a combination of £500,000 from the UK Governments, £300,000 from Dairy UK members and £200,000 from AHDB.

ii. First stage of Scottish Agriculture Bill passed
The Scottish Parliament has passed Stage 1 of the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill which enables Scottish Ministers to ensure that CAP schemes can extend beyond 2020.

The Bill also allows for modifications in relation to the CAP and updates the legal basis for collecting agri and food supply chain data.

iii. HCC announces lengthening in average shelf-life for PGI Welsh lamb
Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat promotion Wales (HCC) have announced a significant improvement in the shelf-life of PGI Welsh lamb; up by 16% over the past year to an average of 33 days.

The increase is attributed to training courses on best practice for livestock presentation and improving abattoirs and transportation. Extending the shelf-life of food products is a key factor for competitiveness in the retail market.

Details on Dairy Industry Support Package Expected Shortly

Earlier this month, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, confirmed that 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.

The FUW is awaiting further details on this scheme - including the application process - and will update members as soon as this information becomes available.