FUW hosts virtual hustings across Wales

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is hosting a series of hustings to ensure that farmers have the opportunity to quiz the prospective Welsh Senedd candidates across Wales ahead of the Welsh Senedd elections in May. The hustings, which will take place via Zoom, will give members the opportunity to hear from the candidates about their respective parties’ policies for agriculture. 

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The upcoming Welsh Senedd Elections in May are of vital importance to the agriculture sector in Wales and the incoming Welsh Government will be facing unprecedented challenges. 

“In the next few weeks we will have the chance to seek commitments from aspiring Senedd members in the numerous virtual hustings being held. There will be no need to travel and no need to be away from the farm. 

FUW rejects key Welsh agriculture white paper proposals and calls for genuine Welsh policy

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has rejected the key proposals for the future of agricultural support in Wales set out in the Welsh Government’s agriculture white paper, and called for a genuine Welsh policy to be developed to meet Welsh objectives.

The Agriculture (Wales) White Paper sets out Welsh Government policy proposals for a legislative framework governing Welsh agriculture, as well as forestry and woodlands, over the coming decades. 

Central to the proposals would be moves to ratchet up rules and restrictions, and base farm support payments purely on the delivery of ‘public goods’ - an academic term that in most cases means environmental benefits such as clean air, water quality, and wildlife habitat.

“We of course agree that public goods should be an important part of a future rural support scheme, but delivering employment, economic, social and cultural prosperity should also be fundamental principles that underpin the design of future support mechanisms,” said FUW president Glyn Roberts. 

“We have a proud history of designing agricultural policy for Wales and have previously deviated significantly from English policies - much to our benefit - and we should continue to do so.

FUW welcomes new ‘Extra Special’ Welsh lamb product in stores for Easter

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the addition of a new, luxury Welsh Lamb product, which will be available in a leading supermarket ready for consumers to celebrate Easter.

Asda supermarkets will be stocking a new half Welsh Lamb leg joint in time for Easter celebrations from March 27 – April 5 as part of their ‘Extra Special’ range. The Extra Special Welsh Half Lamb Leg will be available in selected stores across the UK.

The new product has been created with celebrations in mind and is described as being ‘Prepared with succulent Welsh Lamb, with a full-flavoured gravy infused with roast garlic and deep Ruby Port, all finished with fragrant rosemary for a delicious Easter roast.’ An oven-ready product, it allows families and couples a convenient and delicious way to serve an Easter celebration meal.

Lamb has proven to be a popular product over the last 12 months, with more people choosing the protein over the lockdown period. The most recent data shows that the volume of lamb sold in the UK between December and February has increased by 16.4% compared with 2020 figures.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: "This is a most welcome step in the right direction. Given the uncertainty our farmers face over future trade deals, supporting local suppliers is key to ensuring we have thriving, sustainable family farms here in Wales. 

FUW welcomes creation of all-Wales Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator

The announcement by Welsh Government Minister of Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, that a dedicated all-Wales Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator role will be established, has been welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales. 

In her announcement, the Minister agreed to provide funding for the 12 month pilot role and has written to the Chief Constables of the 4 Welsh police forces and the Police and Crime Commissioners seeking their cooperation and support to appoint an all-Wales Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator.

Responding to the news, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “This is good news for our rural and farming communities who continue to suffer the effects of rural and wildlife crime. At a recent livestock worrying webinar, hosted by the FUW and Wales YFC, we heard first hand about the challenges our police forces face in order to deal with such crimes effectively and the devastating impact such crimes have on our farmers.”

Mr Rickman added that whilst police forces in Wales have made great progress over the years and the North Wales rural crime team have provided a blueprint for excellence, a Wales wide effort in tackling rural crime should not be delayed.

“Rural and wildlife crime costs the industry dearly every year - financially and emotionally. We must learn the lessons from those police forces who have already made great strides in tackling rural and wildlife crime and adopting an all Wales approach will go a long way in effectively tackling the issues police forces deal with on a force by force basis,” he said. 

FUW stresses need for clarity on funding for Wales at Roundtable meeting with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts has stressed the need for clarity on funding for Welsh agriculture at a roundtable meeting with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice MP.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Roberts said: “We currently have no clarity on what budget the Welsh Government will be able to assign to agricultural funding from 2023 onwards, which creates uncertainty about the continuity of BPS and the transition to a new Sustainable Farming Scheme. This is in addition to the £137 million cut that Wales has seen to it’s agricultural funding, which will begin to take effect next year.

“What we need are reassurances about this budget and if or when a multi-year settlement might be given as opposed to a one year budget.”

Responding to the question, George Eustice MP told delegates that the budget allocation was annual for now, given the disruption caused by Covid. However, he was hopeful that this autumn there would be a funding review which would provide a five year budget. He further stressed the UK Government will abide by their commitment to funding promises made and that funding will stay the same as when the UK left the EU, adding that it will be frozen at the level it was in December 2019.  

FUW hits out at extended ‘Soft-touch’ period for imports from EU

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has described the UK Government’s decision to allow imports from the EU to circumvent checks until the autumn as a blow for many UK producers, and an own goal in terms of the UK’s negotiating position over improvements that would help UK exporters.

While thorough checks have been in place for UK food exports to the EU since 1st January 2021, equivalent checks on food products imported from the EU were due to be introduced from 1st April following a transition period to allow importers to adjust to the UK’s departure from the EU Single Market. 

However, the UK Government announced yesterday (11th March) that pre-notification requirements for products of animal origin, certain animal by-products and high risk food not of animal origin would not be required until 1st October 2021. Export health certificate requirements for meat and dairy products and certain animal by-products will come into force on the same date, while a range of other requirements have been delayed until 2022.

Importance of protecting your livestock with insurance highlighted at FUW webinar

The importance of protecting livestock assets on farms with the right insurance policy was highlighted at a recent livestock worrying webinar, hosted by the Farmers’ Union of Wales and Wales YFC.

FUW Insurance Services Account Executive Gwenno Davies told delegates that a minor addition to existing sheep cover could cost as little as £3 a year and cover the financial burden of losses incurred due to a livestock attack. 

“Whilst an insurance policy for such incidents doesn’t take away the heartache of the incident or the stress of dealing with the situation, knowing that it won’t negatively impact you financially can be a relief. All farm businesses are different so a client would need to check their insurance policy specifically. But to add the extra cover for such a low cost, should be considered especially for that piece of mind,” said Gwenno Davies. 

Proposed changes to livestock worrying laws and increased used of technology gives hope to farmers

Farmers in Wales, who are frustrated with ongoing livestock attacks heard what proposed changes to the law could help police forces across England and Wales deal with such incidents more effectively and deter irresponsible dog owners from causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to the livestock industry. 

Speaking at a livestock worrying information webinar, jointly hosted by the Farmers’ Union of Wales and Wales YFC, North Wales Police Rural Crime Team Manager and Chair of the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) Livestock Offences group Rob Taylor explained The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is weak and no longer serves its purpose. 

“The Act dates from the early 1950’s when both farming and policing were practiced differently. We can all agree that both occupations have evolved since then and the act does not reflect modern practices. For example in 2021, the Act doesn’t allow the police to obtain DNA, it doesn’t allow us to prosecute people whose dogs have attacked Alpacas and Llamas, it doesn’t allow us to prosecute if the attack happened on land that’s not agricultural land, we don’t have an option of banning orders. If a dog is subject of a control or destruction order at court, the 1953 Act does not have any powers written into it for the court to refer to and use. The court also has to borrow laws from  an old Victorian civil act namely the Dogs Act 1871, and this can cause confusion for both Police and court alike,” he said. 

Water Regulations vote a betrayal of Welsh farming

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has expressed its bitter disappointment with Senedd Members who failed to support a motion to annul the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2021 after the motion was defeated by 30 votes to 27.

Responding to the news, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The decision to cut and paste outdated thirty year old EU legislation designed to tackle problems in intensively farmed areas, which has been shown to be ineffective and in many areas make matters worse, is itself a major concern for all those who understand the purpose of Welsh devolution.

"It is therefore an additional bitter blow to see a majority of Senedd members voting to support such a lazy, unimaginative and economically and environmentally damaging approach which makes a mockery of devolution and our desire to make Wales a better place.

“It  marks the Welsh Government hitting rock-bottom on so many levels - not least in terms of misleading the Senedd by breaking the repeated promise not to bring forward legislation until after the coronavirus pandemic, and making false claims about agricultural pollution getting worse in recent years when incidences have fallen.”

Support for Wales Young Farmers vital, Union President tells Welsh Labour party conference

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts has stressed the importance of the Wales YFC at the virtual Welsh Labour Party Spring Conference. Addressing a fringe meeting on Friday, February 26, with Jeremy Miles, the Union President stressed that whilst financial support for the Urdd was welcome, the Young Farmers clubs in Wales must not be left out. 

Speaking after the event, he said: “Whilst we welcome and appreciate the funding made available for the Urdd as part of the Welsh Government ‘recover and rebuild’ strategy, our young farmers clubs across Wales must not be left out. Indeed they deserve to be recognised for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic in keeping spirits high among their members through all the virtual events and meetings they have held.”

The FUW has previously voiced its disappointment at funding cuts made by councils in Wales to Young Farmer Clubs and Mr Roberts was clear that the Wales YFC must not be left behind as the country rebuilds itself after Covid.

Water regulations will kill off Welsh family dairy farms and boost industrial scale dairy production says FUW dairy committee

The Farmers’ Union of Wales’ Milk and Dairy Produce committee says tenants, young farmers, new entrants and small and medium family farms will go out of business in huge numbers as a result of new water regulations, while industrial scale dairy farming will be boosted. The conclusion came during a virtual meeting of the union’s Milk and Dairy Produce Committee on Wednesday 24 February.

The Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2021 - which are copied from decades old EU Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations - were placed before the Senedd on 27 January. Shadow environment and rural affairs minister Llyr Gruffydd has tabled a Senedd debate proposing that the regulations be annulled, to be held on March 3.

Speaking after the meeting, FUW Milk and Dairy Produce committee Chairman Dai Miles said: “These regulations will have massive financial and production impacts for dairy farms of all size and type, but the overwhelming view of the committee was that it will be tenants and the small and medium family dairy farms that will be most likely to go out of production as a result of these regulations. 

FUW Livestock, Wool and Marts and Hill Farming Committee’s highlight animal welfare in transport consultation concerns

At a recent virtual joint meeting of the Farmers’ Union of Wales’ Livestock, Wool and Marts, and Hill Farming and Marginal Land Committees, delegates discussed a Welsh Government and Defra consultation on ending live animal exports for slaughter and introducing restrictions on transporting animals. The consultation paper has already been considered by the Union’s twelve County Executive Committees.

Delegates were of the view that Welsh farmers should not be discriminated against by a ban on exports when those in other countries and around the world are free to move animals in ways which fall well below the high standards we have in the UK.

FUW Livestock, Wool and Marts Committee chairman Morgan Jones-Parry said: “The live export issue has been a hot topic for many years, and where animals from any country are transported in ways which do not meet UK and EU rules (which are the highest in the world), causing suffering, this is clearly unacceptable.

Do you know what to do when it comes to livestock worrying on your land - FUW hosts information webinar

The Farmers’ Union of Wales, jointly with Wales YFC and FUW Insurance Services , are hosting a livestock worrying webinar to address the on-going livestock worrying incidents across Wales. 

The webinar, which is open to all FUW, Wales YFC members and FUWIS customers, will take place on Thursday 25 February at 7pm via Zoom.

The webinar will hear from Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, North Wales Police Rural Crime Team Manager and Chair of the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) Livestock Offences group Rob Taylor and PC Dave Allen, North Wales Police Rural Crime Team and secretary of the NPCC Livestock Offences Group, FUWIS Account Executive Gwenno Davies, Ceredigion livestock farmer Wyn Evans and Wales YFC Rural Affairs Chairman Clare James will be chairing the Q&A session.

Montgomeryshire farmers discuss Brexit impact on meat exporters with local MP

Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Montgomeryshire, as well as the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) have met with local MP Craig Williams to discuss the impact Brexit is having on meat exports and highlighted the need to address non-tariff barriers that are causing major problems for exporters.

Mr Williams, a member of the International Trade Committee, heard that many if not most exporters kept consignments at minimum levels or decided not to export at all in the first weeks of January, but that there were nevertheless a range of significant problems for most if not all food sectors, despite volumes being much lower than average.  

Outlining the problems exporters currently face, Chief Executive Officer at BMPA Nick Allen said: “For our exports there are delays, hick-ups and it’s not flowing in the amounts we want. There are too many moving parts to the process and things change on a daily basis.”

The MP further heard that in terms of animal products the UK is only sending 30 - 40% of what would normally be exported and it’s not adding much value, especially as many are sending smaller loads or not sending at all. 

Welsh farming organisations unite in joint letter to Minister outlining future policy concerns

The Welsh farming unions and Wales YFC have written to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs to express concerns around the future direction of Welsh agricultural policy, following the publication of the Agriculture (Wales) White Paper.

In a show of unity, NFU Cymru, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) and Wales YFC have called upon the Minister, Lesley Griffiths MS, to pause and reconsider what a future policy should deliver for the people of Wales. The three organisations have raised concerns that little has changed over three consultation processes and there remains a lack of ambition for the future of farming in Wales. 

The letter states ‘the direction of travel proposed does not appear to reflect the uniqueness of Welsh farming, built around family farms delivering for our economy, our landscape, language and culture.  Instead, and most worryingly, it looks as though we are implementing a policy based on a very narrow definition of public goods, policy thinking very similar to what we have seen emanate from elsewhere, rather than a policy ‘Made in Wales’.’ 

FUW puts in the miles for charity

During the month of January staff from the Farmers’ Union of Wales and FUW Insurance Services Ltd. joined teams from five nations to inspire rural communities to take to the countryside to help improve their mental health. 

The challenge, #Run1000, called on people to join either – England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales and the rest of the world, to see which team could run or walk 1,000 miles first. The winner of the challenge to reach the 1000 milestone was Wales and the FUW Ltd. group team contributed a total of 1,156 miles to the overall 64,785 miles recorded across all teams around the world.

FUW appoints Group Managing Director

The FUW is pleased to announce a new role – FUW (Farmers’ Union of Wales) Group Managing Director, who will oversee the Union’s work on behalf of the agricultural industry and its successful insurance services, FUWIS (Farmers’ Union of Wales Insurance Services).

Following an appointment process, jointly administered by FUW and FUIWS, Guto Bebb was appointed to the post. Guto Bebb has been the Managing Director of FUWIS since April 2020.

Mr Bebb, who lives in Caernarfon, is the ex-MP for Aberconwy, former Under Secretary of State for Wales, and former Procurement Minister with the Ministry of Defence.  As a result, he is very familiar with the world of public policy.  

Before commencing his political career, Mr Bebb was a business consultant and company director.  His commercial experience stood him in good stead as a member of the Public Accounts Committee at Westminster, and in managing the multi-million procurement budget of the Defence Ministry.

Beware of scams and cold callers, FUW warns members

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging members to be aware of scams and cold callers, as recent incidents have seen an increase. 

FUW Carmarthen County Executive Officer David Waters said: “We have received a few reports from members recently that they have been targeted by cold callers and scammers, frequently regarding new utility contracts.

“These phone calls and emails, which often end up with the person agreeing to a new contract, are legally binding in many cases and very difficult to get out of. I urge members to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Mr Waters added that farms are being targeted because often individuals are isolated and are viewed as being vulnerable and therefore more likely to fall foul of fraud. A large proportion of fraud crimes involve criminal gangs targeting specific groups, including the agricultural community.

Never make any rushed decisions and don’t feel pressured into making a decision on the spot.  If, for example, a telephone caller is genuine they will allow you time to think about things and for you to be able to call them back later or review their offer in writing.

“The people who carry out these scams are convincing, it is what they do for a day job.  But there is assistance out there from Trading Standards and the police. Please remember that it is important to report scams, no matter how small, so that they can be fully investigated and to ensure that support is given to the individuals concerned,” he added.

FUW’s virtual breakfast week a success

The virtual farmhouse breakfast week (18-24 January), organised by the Farmers’ Union of Wales has been a roaring success. The campaign didn’t just raise the profile of local food, its  producers and retailers but vital funds for the DPJ Foundation.

Under normal circumstances the FUW would have held breakfast events across Wales in village halls, cafes, marts and farmhouse kitchens, however the on-going Covid-19 lockdown meant a change of plan. 

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “I would like to thank each and every single one of you who has helped make this virtual campaign a roaring success. We have seen hundreds of you enjoy breakfast, sourced locally, at home with your families and our retailers and farmers were instrumental in their involvement and provided excellent food from Wales.”

Draconian water quality legislation makes a mockery of devolution says FUW

The Farmers' Union of Wales says Welsh Government water quality legislation announced today (January 27) makes a mockery of devolution by failing to address Welsh concerns and needs.

The legislation will mean the phasing across Wales of what are effectively EU rules currently in place in intensively farmed areas -  designate the whole of Wales as an EU Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ), an area more than forty times bigger than the current Welsh NVZ area, and eleven times bigger than what was recommended by NRW.

FUW president Glyn Roberts said: "The blank sheet of devolution and Brexit allows Welsh Government to design a bespoke system which would target problem areas without being disproportionate and costing the farming industry hundreds of millions - including in areas where there are no problems.

Montgomeryshire FUW to raise concerns over Brexit impact on exports with MP

Members of Montgomeryshire FUW are to meet virtually with MP Craig Williams to raise concerns about the threat that non-tariff barriers represent to a major slaughterhouse in the constituency and the industry as a whole.

Meat processing plant Randall Parker Foods, near Llanidloes, which processes a million lambs a year - half of which are exported to the European Union - last week warned that it may lose a third of its 150 workers if the extra cost and paperwork of selling meat into the EU under the new post-Brexit trading arrangements cannot be overcome.

General License to control wild birds lawful but final hurdle not yet cleared, FUW warns

The FUW breathed a sigh of relief after Natural Resources Wales successfully defended General Licences to control certain wild birds in the High Court after campaigning body Wild Justice brought a legal challenge. The ruling means that the challenged General Licences can continue to be used to control certain wild bird species. The General Licences are available for the purpose of preventing serious damage or disease to crops or livestock, protecting public health and conserving certain species of wild birds. 

FUW anger as lack of maintenance work results in flooding again

Farmers’ Union of Wales members in the northern area of Meirionnydd have expressed deep anger and frustration following the flooding of several hundred acres of land at Llanfrothen near Porthmadog over recent days.  The flooding occurred as a result of the Afon Croesor overflowing once again to the nearby Internal Drainage District causing tremendous damage to the best agricultural land in the area. 

The problem has been brought to the attention of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on several occasions, and site meetings were held with NRW staff following flooding in July 2020. This included a meeting on site with Liz Saville Roberts MP. 

FUW Meirionnydd County Executive Officer Huw Jones said: “The Afon Croesor has the status of ‘main river’ and is the responsibility of NRW. During our meetings in August 2020, the NRW officers were shown trees and overhanging branches which impede the flow of the river, and where maintenance work is urgently required.  We also discussed the clear need to dredge parts of the river. Flood banks in urgent need of repairs were also shown, with a request that a detailed inspection is carried out as soon as possible, with a view to making repairs as soon as possible. We gave a clear warning that doing nothing was not an option. 

Big Farmland Bird Count 2021 - Help us showcase how bio-diverse Wales is, FUW encourages

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is encouraging farmers in Wales to get behind the Big Farmland Bird Count 2021, by spending 30 minutes recording the farmland birds they see on their land. The annual UK wide count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled for the 5 – 14 February 2021.

To help farmers understand what’s involved, the Union is hosting a joint webinar with the GWCT on Monday, 1 February, at 7pm via Zoom. The webinar is free and open to all and will hear from FUW President Glyn Roberts, FUW member John Yeomans  and Matthew Goodall and Lee Oliver from the GWCT, who will be discussing the birds that we might see and suggest some ideas on what can happen on farms to encourage more bird activity. 

Sheep and Goat keepers - have you submitted your annual inventory for 2021?

Sheep and goat keepers in Wales are being reminded to submit their annual inventory form by Monday 1 February, to avoid potential penalties. The form can be submitted by either logging onto the EID Cymru website (www.eidcymru.org), or by returning the paper form in the post.

FUW Pembrokeshire County Executive Officer Rebecca Voyle said: “The annual inventory of sheep and goats is a legal requirement and it is vital that farmers record all the sheep and goats that they are the registered keeper of, by CPH location, on 1 January 2021. 

“The number of sheep/goats  declared must include breeding sheep, rams, ram lambs, store and finished lambs, cull ewes/rams, goats and any other sheep. It is important that farmers do this to avoid a potential cross-compliance penalty and an increased likelihood of an inspection.”

If you require any assistance, contact the EIDCymru service helpline 01970 636959, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or your local FUW county office.

Report livestock worrying incidents to police, FUW urges farmers

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging members to report all incidents of livestock attacks to the police to ensure that the right actions can be taken.

FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “Avoidable losses, such as those that occur when a dog chases or attacks livestock, remain a significant source of frustration for the livestock sector in Wales. 

“Industry initiatives, such as the FUW campaign “Your dog, Your responsibility” which widened the message to respecting the countryside, picking up after your dog, keeping dogs on a lead near livestock and making sure dogs don’t escape from home, have had some impact but sadly we keep hearing about more incidents recently.”