Agricultural Policy

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.

 

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.