Agricultural Policy

Consultations Pending

i) Welsh Government - Our Ambition to Further Develop Wales’ Food and Drink Sector

Welsh Government are seeking responses to the Welsh Government and the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board’s joint proposals for a strategic plan to further advance the food and drink sector in Wales for the period 2020-2026.

For further information please follow click here.  The consultation closes on the 15th October 2019.

ii) Food Standards Agency - Home Slaughter of Livestock Guidance

The Food Standards Agency have updated the Home Slaughter of Livestock guidance for England and Wales to reflect the changes to regulations.

Under the revised Animal Welfare Regulations, the home killing of an animal and any related operations shall only be carried out by persons with the appropriate level of competence to do so without causing the animals any pain, distress or suffering; on behalf of the owner, at the owner’s property, for domestic consumption.

For further information please follow click here.  The consultation closes on the 28th October 2019.


iii) Sustainable Farming and our Land
The Welsh Government has announced the launch of a second consultation on the future of farm payments in Wales which follows on from the 2018 ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation.

See here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 30th October 2019.

iv) Animal Exhibits
Animal Exhibits (AEs) are diverse and there is no current licensing regime or requirements for routine inspections, therefore animal welfare standards are not guaranteed. In addition, the Performing Animals Act 1925 requires performing animals to be registered with Local Authorities which currently have no end date, nor does the Act define what is meant by a ‘performing animal’.

Following a 2017 consultation, the decision was made in April 2019 to include all AEs which meet a given criteria. Lesley Griffiths, Minister, also laid out a proposed Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly in July 2019 which proposes to make it an offence for a wild animal to be used in a travelling circus.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Animal Exhibits) (Wales) Regulations 2020 will introduce a requirement for AEs which meet a given criteria to be licensed by their Local Authority. The scheme will provide for checks to be made to ensure good welfare standards are maintained and that animals are exhibited in a way that encourages respectful and responsible attitudes towards all species.

The consultation outlines that (a) Keeping animals primarily for dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping and (c) Keeping or training animals for sporting purposes would be exempt from requiring a licence (as well as other categories).

Please follow click here for the consultation document. Deadline for responses is 21st November 2019.

(v) Ageing Of Sheep At Slaughter
Welsh Government, DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are seeking views on the proposal to change English and Welsh legislation for ageing sheep at slaughter for the removal of certain body parts.

Currently, Specified Risk Material (SRM) is removed from sheep over 12 months of age as declared through dentition (checking teeth) for preventing Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) in the interest of public health.

Instead, the consultation proposes an (optional) alternative method for the ageing of sheep at slaughter:  Sheep born in the previous calendar year and submitted for slaughter in the calendar year following their birth after an annual cut-off date of 30 June must be considered as aged over 12 months and therefore would require the removal of the spinal cord as SRM.  Sheep born in the previous calendar year and submitted for slaughter in the calendar year following their birth before an annual cut-off date of 30 June would be considered as aged under 12 months and would not require removal of the spinal cord as SRM.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have confirmed that this approach would not compromise existing food safety.  It is proposed that the new approach would allow farmers to adjust their flock management and minimize the splitting of lambs aged under 12 months.  It is estimated that this could result in indirect savings of up to £24 million a year for the industry.

Please follow click here for the consultation document.  Responses by 31st October 2019.

Farming Connect November Skills and Training Application Window

The next skills funding application window is now open for up to 80% subsidised training and will close on Friday 1st November 2019.  There are 3 steps to applying:
1) Register with Farming Connect before 28th October to gain access to the Business Wales website.
2) Complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) on the Business Wales website to help identify which courses are available and most suitable for improving your skills.  Completing a PDP and submitting an application form is mandatory. There will be events and workshops throughout Wales to help with the process.
3) Apply for the desired training course(s) during the application window.  The applications will be assessed at the end of the application window and applicants will be notified by email.  You must then complete the course(s) within 9 months.


Click here for more information on the courses available and PDP workshop dates.

Reminder of Cymorth TB Support & Advice

Farmers’ Union of Wales is reminding its members of the free veterinary support and advice available through the Cymorth TB programme.  The programme is managed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and delivered through two Welsh veterinary delivery partners across Wales.  Those wishing to take part will be sent a voucher by APHA.
 
To make the support easier to access, visits by trained private vets have been, or will be, automatically scheduled for applicable herds; although cattle keepers may choose to opt-out if they wish.  The vets will provide support for disease management and advice on the risks associated with TB.
 
Private vets who wish to take part in the programme must complete a training module which has been accredited by Harper Adams University and is available online.
 
In addition, cattle keepers in the Intermediate TB Area North (ITBAN) can access free Cymorth TB style advice for keeping TB out following a clear contiguous TB test.
 
Please speak to your local veterinary practice for more.

Be Mindful Of Grass Burning Regulations To Avoid Fines

FUW members are being reminded to follow the Heather and Grass Burning Code to avoid damage to the environment, hefty fines of up to £1,000 and cross compliance penalties. 
 
The burning of heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse and Vaccinium (bilberry) is only allowed between 1 October - 31 March in upland areas (land in the Severely Disadvantaged Area of the Less Favoured Area) and 1 November - 15 March elsewhere.
 
It is possible to carry out controlled burns at other times but only under a licence that may be obtained in very specific circumstances.  The Heather and Grass Burning Code asks farmers to prepare thoroughly before any burning is undertaken as well as plan and consult well in advance of the burning season. 
 
Those planning a controlled burn need to contact the local Fire and Rescue Service, consult and co-operate with neighbours, especially woodland owners, to establish or confirm a burning programme for the year and those on common land are advised to consult fellow Commoners and the local Commoners’ Association if applicable.
 
Carefully planned and controlled burning is beneficial for agriculture, wildlife conservation and the wider environment if it is carried out in the correct manner.  However, using burning as a management tool with a poor understanding can be equally damaging to the environment.
 
For further information and guidance on the Heather and Grass Burning Code, see here.

Sustainable Farming and our Land FAQs

The Farmers’ Union of Wales county events on the Sustainable Farming and Our Land consultation have raised some key questions.  The FUW has provided a Q and A on some of the most common questions from members below: 
 

Q1) What if a farmer completes every action outlined in their Sustainable Farming Plan but the predicted outcomes don’t occur?
A1) According to the Welsh Government, a contract would ensure farmers are rewarded for the actions expected to deliver the anticipated outcomes, regardless of whether the predicted outcomes occur.
Based on experience with current and previous schemes, one concern the FUW has is that properly understanding, coping and complying with conditions relating to a range of complex actions can be problematic and lead to penalties if penalty regimes are disproportionate or common sense ignored.
 
Q2) Will those who have already carried out such Actions, for example under Glastir or other schemes, still be rewarded?
A2) Welsh Government state that farmers will get paid for existing features, however these were created - but they would not be paid retrospectively for establishing any features.
 
Q3) Regulatory frameworks take years to develop.  What will happen in the meantime?
A3) Following the FUW’s lobbying in 2018, the Welsh Government has moved significantly from its position of stating that it wishes to see a new scheme introduced by 2025. 
However, it is moving on in terms of the development of new legislation and regulations - for example in relation to extreme restrictions on farms across Wales aimed at tackling Water pollution, which are due to come in in 2020. 
The FUW continues to fight for proportionate regulations which reflect the need to target problems - for example by helping farmers in areas where are pollution problems, rather than implementing draconian rules across the whole of Wales.

Q4) How will they afford enough advisors for each and every farmer?
The ability of the Welsh Government to train and pay sufficient advisors to ensure tens of thousands of farmers are given the opportunity to negotiate appropriate and fair contracts, and that the process is not rushed, is a great concern - especially given ongoing pressure on the Welsh Government’s budget and the possibility that a future agricultural allocation might not be ringfenced for farmers, as is currently the case under EU rules.
Experience with thirty years or more of environmental contracts has shown that the more contracts Governments wish farmers to sign up to in a set period, the more likely the process is to be rushed and the higher the chances of farmers not understanding what they have agreed to, or signing something that turns out to be inappropriate for their businesses.
However, when it comes to monitoring agreements and outcomes, there is mention of self monitoring and the use of technology to help with efficient recording and reducing the need for farm inspections once the scheme is introduced.
 
Q5) Under collaboration, would farmers be paid for, say, double fencing for preventing BVD?
A5) Possibly, but the issue of ‘additionality’ becomes a problem for payments if Actions, such as double fencing, become a legal minimum requirement under regulation such as the proposed BVD regulation. 
 
Q6) What are Scotland, England and Ireland planning to do?
A6) England are aiming to base payments on Public Goods, similar to Wales.  Scottish farmers will receive direct payments in the short term, while the Scottish Government plans to make improvements such as simplifying the delivery of pillar 1 payments, streamlining application process, and encouraging and supporting new entrants. In the longer term there are plans in Scotland to promote innovation and improve the environmental performance of Scottish agriculture. While there is some talk of ‘Public Goods’ in Scotland, the Scottish Government has said that they regard food production as such a ‘Good’.
Farmers in the Republic of Ireland will continue to receive direct payments under the CAP as they will remain within the EU, whereas Northern Ireland has no clear plans in place as of yet.
 
Q7) Will farmers know how much they will be paid for implementing Actions on farm at the start of the scheme?
A7) Yes, it will be outlined within the agreed plan - but at this time there is no indication of how much a farmer might be paid for, for instance, carbon storage. There is further confusion regarding the values Defra might offer for carbon or other public goods, and whether they might differ to those in Wales
 
Q8) Is there an obligation by the UK Government to pay for this scheme?
A8) Where a contract is signed with Welsh Government they will be obliged to pay what has been agreed in the contract. While the current UK Government has committed to allocate the same level of funding to Wales as is currently the case, it is not possible for a Government to commit a future Government to making such payments.
The Welsh Government argues that because the scheme aims to work towards the UK target of net zero emissions by 2050, therefore the scheme presents a good case to both Welsh and UK Governments to fund Welsh agriculture for this purpose.

Q9) Would the baseline regulations of the scheme apply to those who own land and let it grow wild?
A9) Yes they would, regardless of whether they receive payment through the scheme

Q10) What do they mean by shortening supply chains and market alignment?
A10) There isn’t a great deal of detail within the consultation as it is still in the planning process. However, things such as Benchmarking for better market alignment and looking at Wales’ Food and Drink sector and Welsh ‘brand values’ (a current catchphrase in political and civil service circles which means the value a consumer attaches to a particular brand) to improve local supply chains are mentioned.

 
FUW advises all members to register for the BPS Loan Support Scheme and to attend the remaining FUW meetings to learn more about the consultation.
 
See here for a list of pending consultations.

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/