FUW members set to benefit from new planning services partnership

If you need advice on pre-planning applications, reviewing constraints, project viability, and master-planning, then our new partnership with RML Consultants might be just the professional helping hand you need. The FUW is therefore excited to announce our new partner contract with the company who will deliver town and country planning services for members predominantly in North Wales. 

RML was established by Managing Director Ivor Richards OBE, in 1984, to provide multi-disciplined engineering, landscape and environmental consultancy.  Originally specialising in brownfield remediation, the company gained a reputation for high-quality design in sensitive landscapes and for applying the principles of ‘working with nature’.  RML has published national guidance documents based on decades of experience and technical expertise. 

2021 - FUW Farmhouse Breakfast Week returns with a difference

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is once again preparing for one of its key events - the annual Farmhouse Breakfast week, which will run from Monday 18 - Sunday 24 January 2021.

Under normal circumstances the FUW would be looking forward to sitting around kitchen tables with friends, family and neighbours up and down the country - sharing our thoughts, worries, concerns and anything else on our mind. Of course, given the on-going Covid-19 restrictions, the  usual way of running this campaign is sadly not an option.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “However, the ethos of sitting around the kitchen table to enjoy the wonderful produce our farmers produce from eggs, cheese, bacon, sausages to butters and yoghurts etc, is still very much do-able at home with our closest family.”

FUW President New Year's Message - by Glyn Roberts

As we enter a New Year in which we all hope to return to some kind of normality, the UK’s genuine departure from the European Union after a lengthy divorce suggests 2021 will be anything but normal, irrespective of what progress is made in tackling the current coronavirus pandemic. Having breathed a collective sigh of relief after the UK and EU finally reached agreement on Christmas Eve - thereby avoiding the nightmare of tariffs that would have reduce farmgate prices for some products by 30% or more - from 1 January 2021 we will nevertheless start to see the impacts of non-tariff barriers which will make 2021 difficult to say the least for many Welsh businesses.

As the one-hundred-plus members who joined our Brexit webinar on December 17 learned, the Export Health Certificates required by food manufacturers to export products to the EU will cost around £150 to £200 each, meaning the total UK bill for certificates alone is expected to be between £45 million and £60 million in 2021 if exports continue at current rates. This is equivalent to between 3% and 4% of the value of current UK meat exports. Meanwhile, the additional costs of these and other non-tariff barriers are estimated to be between 4% and 8% - equivalent to a reduction of between 19p and 40p per deadweight kilo based on last year’s SQQ lamb prices.

We also have certainty regarding the budget that will replace our EU Common Agricultural Policy budget: in December 2019, the UK Government announced a Welsh BPS budget that took no account of the 15% Pillar Transfer, leaving a funding gap of £42 million. Then in November this year, they announced a Welsh funding allocation that increases this funding gap for 2021-2022 to £137 million - equivalent to a cut of around 41%.

Welsh farmers breath collective sigh of relief after trade deal breakthrough

Welsh farmers and food producers have sighed a huge sigh of relief after it was revealed that the UK and EU are close to agreeing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) covering key Welsh products.

Speaking after news of the breakthrough broke on Wednesday evening (December 23), FUW President Glyn Roberts said: "The consequences of a no deal for farming and other industries would be catastrophic, so it was always hoped that common sense would prevail.

"However, there was always a risk that refusals to compromise on one or other side could lead to the worst case scenario."

Mr Roberts also welcomed the EU's formal listing of the UK as a 'Third Country' - a move which is essential in terms of allowing Welsh food exports to the EU.

"However, our access to the EU market, which is the destination for three quarters of Welsh food and drink exports, will still face significant barriers after 31st Decembers, with non-tariff barrier costs expected to rise by 4 to 8 percent."

Mr Roberts said the full text of an agreement would have to be scrutinised in order to assess the full impacts and benefits, and a number of concerns existed including in terms of seed potato exports.

"Nevertheless, the Welsh farming industry, like others the length and breadth of Great Britain, will be celebrating Christmas having breathed a huge sigh of relief that a deal seems close to being agreed."

FUW welcomes Welsh Government direct payment ceiling announcement

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the Welsh Government’s announcement of a direct payment ceiling that will ensure Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) payments in 2021 remain at the same level as in 2020.

Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, announced on Monday (21 December) a total direct payment ceiling of £238 million for the 2021 BPS.

Speaking after the announcement, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We very much welcome the Minister’s confirmation that she intends to provide financial security for farming families and the tens of thousands of rural businesses they support at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.”

Pembrokeshire farming family highlight role industry plays in looking after the environment and producing nutritious food

Nestled in the Pembrokeshire countryside just outside of Haverfordwest, the Miles family have made their home and livelihood on a dairy farm. Having moved to the Pembrokeshire countryside in 1997 Dai, Sharron and son Llŷr farm in partnership. 

The business was started by Dai and Sharron, who took on the tenancy of Barnsley Farm, a 143 acres farm. At the time it was a stock/arable unit which they converted into an organic dairy unit starting with 33 cows and leased milk quota. In 2001 they took on a further 90 acres of pasture land and then in 2005 the neighbouring farm within the same estate. 

In 2018 they purchased the neighbouring farm Beudy Bach, from the estate and installed a modern robotic milking system on the holding and son Llyr has joined the business after returning from Aberystwyth University where he studied agriculture. 

Llŷr said: “Mum and dad have always been farming, and I’ve had an interest in farming so went to Aberystwyth Uni to study agriculture and took a year in industry, then came home. It’s what I enjoy doing and it’s what I want to do.” 

Across the holdings, the family look after 110 hectares and 35 hectares of summer grazing for the heifers and use for silage. In the milking herd they have 130 cows and 60 followers. “We predominantly keep British Friesian cows and only occasionally buy some in, but we rear our own British Friesians. They're a great, hardy breed of cow, which we graze from February to November, they produce great milk from grass,” said Llŷr. 

FUW encourages rural communities to walk away the January blues and help raise funds for the DPJ Foundation

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is taking part in one of the biggest walking challenges yet, as it joins five nations who have teamed up to inspire rural communities to take to the countryside to help improve their mental health.

The challenge, #Run1000, is calling on people to sign up to be part of one of five teams – England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the rest of the world. The competition will take place from January 1 to January 31, 2021 and will see each team run or walk 1,000 miles, with the nation that reaches the milestone first announced as the winner. The idea is for individuals to sign up and contribute as many miles as they can during January, whether that be 1 or 100. 

A team captain will lead each nation, and a private Strava group will record the collective running / walking distance - for Wales the team captain is Emma Picton-Jones from the DPJ Foundation.

Over 40 people have died on farms - it’s time to make a change, FUW says

Over 40 people have been killed on farms in the UK this year according to fatality notifications from the HSE, including nine in Wales since January 2020. The numbers bring home the harrowing reality just how dangerous farming can be and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is calling on the industry to make a change and start taking safety on farms seriously.

FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “We need to let that statistic sink in. Over 40 people have died on farms across the UK in 2020. That’s over 40 families who have lost a loved one and who are going through trauma, stress and are no doubt experiencing anxiety as well. The figure is exceptionally higher than last year and we must make changes on our farms to drastically reduce the number of fatalities.”

The FUW, as part of the Wales Farm Safety Partnership, is committed to highlighting that there are serious Health and Safety challenges on farms and through its work with the group aims to help improve the situation and to save lives on farms.

All organisations in Wales who are signed up to the ‘On Farm Health and Safety Charter for Wales' are committed to: “Working together to make farming safer”.

3rd generation farmer asks - how badly does a bovine TB breakdown affect a farmers mental health?

It has long been recognised in farming circles that a bovine TB breakdown has multiple consequences, such as loss of stock, problems with cash flow, costs of housing and feeding additional stock, loss of business control and uncertainty over the future. All of these inevitably impact on the emotional well-being of farming families. 

However, the true impact is likely to have been underestimated. Rebecca John, a third generation farmer from Pembrokeshire, is therefore asking a pertinent question - how does a TB breakdown on a farm affect our mental health? 

Familiar with the ups and downs of agriculture and livestock farming in Pembrokeshire, Rebecca is no stranger to seeing vets come and go for TB testing on the family holding Rinaston, near Haverfordwest, where they farm beef, sheep and dairy.

“We all understand to a degree that farmers who are trying to run their business under a bovine TB breakdown are at breaking point. Given that mental health is inextricably linked to farm business sustainability and solvency, we must fully understand the ground-level grass roots consequences of this disease. 

FUW reacts to Agriculture (Wales) White Paper

The FUW has reacted to the release of the Welsh Government’s Agriculture (Wales) White Paper saying the paper does little to reduce concerns regarding the impacts for families and communities of proposed sweeping changes to agricultural support.

Responding to the publication of the white paper on Wednesday (December 16), FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We all agree with the objectives of protecting and enhancing the economic, environmental and sustainability of our rural communities, which are alluded to in this white paper. 

“However, we have grave concerns about whether the nuts and bolts of the proposals will actually do this, and feel there is a great risk that the aspirations outlined in the paper will actually be undermined, particularly from the point of view of family farms and rural economics.”

UK-EU deal must be struck to avoid catastrophic impacts

The FUW says failure by the UK and EU to reach a trade deal in the coming days would be catastrophic for industries and entire communities in Wales and across the UK and must be avoided at all costs.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Even if there is a trade deal with the EU, industries are facing major challenges from non-tariff barriers at borders, with additional costs for agricultural exports estimated to be up to 10% not to mention major disruptions and practical obstacles to the flow of goods.

“These already worrying impacts will increase many fold if we fail to reach a trade agreement, in particular as a result of the tariffs that will be charged on our exports. The viability and very survival of businesses and the supply chains and jobs they support depends on a deal being struck, and talk of an ‘Australia-style deal’ is just a euphemism for a damaging no-deal.”

FUW launches online lobbying tool following cuts to rural funding

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging farmers and members of the public to use an online tool to lobby Welsh politicians over cuts to Wales’ agriculture and rural development budget announced by the UK Chancellor on 25th November.

The tool allows people to email their elected Members of Parliament and Members of the Welsh Senedd calling on them to fight for the restoration of Wales’ agriculture and rural development budget to pre-EU Exit levels in real terms - in line with promises made to Welsh and UK constituents by numerous politicians and UK Government ministers.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The UK Government has cut funding for Welsh agriculture and rural development by at least 27% and up to 41% if Pillar transfer funds are included, and the implications for the economic, environmental and cultural sustainability of our communities are severe.

“We’ve therefore set up a lobbying tool so farmers and members of the public can write to their elected representatives urging them to lobby the UK Government to ensure funding for Welsh agriculture and rural development is restored to pre-EU Exit levels.” 

FUW puts spotlight on Brexit requirements for farmers in special webinar

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is hosting a special webinar to shed light on what technical and practical changes are required for farming businesses in Wales from 1 January 2021 onwards.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, 17 December at 7pm via Zoom.

Helping to explain these changes, and translate them into practicalities, are representatives from British Meat Processors Association, Food Standards Agency, Hybu Cig Cymru and Welsh Government. The webinar is  chaired by FUW President Glyn Roberts, with closing remarks from FUW Head of Policy Nick Fenwick. 

FUW Policy Officer Teleri Fielden said: “There are significant changes occurring to the trading arrangements with UK agriculture's biggest export customer-the EU as well as new ways of working for all sections of the food supply chain in the UK. 

“This means farmers need to be aware of the impacts of these changes for their businesses. Things such as the non-tariff barriers we hear so much won’t just impact ports after December - they will affect every stage of food production, so it is important for farmers to understand potential implications for their businesses. 

“We will be joined by a team of experts who will help shed light on some of these complex issues and we look forward to welcoming you to the event.”

To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/brexit-what-do-welsh-farmers-need-to-know-from-1-january-2021-onwards-tickets-131842270781 

Agriculture and Rural Development Cuts - FUW Number Crunch

Leaders of the Brexit campaign promised that leaving the EU would not lead to reduced funding for  farming and rural areas 

The 2019 Conservative Manifesto stated “...we will guarantee the current annual [Common  Agricultural Policy (CAP)] budget to farmers in every year of the next Parliament” 

The EU CAP budget for Wales for the period 2014-2020, confirmed on 8th November 2013 by the then Secretary  of State for Environment Owen Paterson was “…a pillar 1 (direct payment) allocation of around €2,245  million, and pillar 2 allocation of around €355 million”  (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-cap-allocations-announced )

This is a total of €2.6 billion over the seven year (2014-2020) CAP budgetary period – an average of  £331 million a year based on the £0.89/€ exchange rate fixed by the UK Government On 25th November 2020 the UK Government announced that Wales’ 2021-2022 financial year  allocation for agriculture and rural development would be £242 million - £89 million less than the  average annual EU CAP allocation for the period 2014-2020 

The £242 million figure for the 2021-2022 financial year is £95 million less than the £337 million  received in the 2019 funding ‘baseline’ defined by the UK Government to calculate Wales’ allocation The UK Government maintains that the total budget available to Wales in 2021-2022 should be judged  to be the sum of the £242 million announced on 25th November 2020 and the £95 million in unspent  EU funding from the 2014-2020 funding period 

FUW helps members prepare for lambing season

The Anglesey branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales is helping members prepare for the next lambing season with a special webinar.  The webinar is open to all members and takes place via Zoom on Tuesday 8 December at 7pm. 

Joining the virtual event is Veterinary Surgeon Alwyn Llewelyn Jones BVMS, DipACVP, FRCPath, MRCVS who is going to share hints, tips and best practices on preparing the flock for the lambing season.  Mr Jones is now a veterinary pathologist on the Scottish Borders working for the Scottish Rural University College (SRUC) but has spent many years working as a vet at a local practice so will be a familiar face to many. 

Also joining the event will be Dyfrig Hughes on behalf of For Farmers to answer any nutrient related questions members might have.

FUW Anglesey County Executive Officer Alaw Jones said: “ We are looking forward to welcoming members from across Wales to this special webinar, which aims to answer any questions farmers might have in how to best prepare for the next lambing season. I look forward to virtually seeing many of you on the night.”

To book your place at the webinar, members need to contact the Anglesey County Office on 01248 750 250 or via email on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Farming Community warned of targeted fraud attacks

Dyfed-Powys Police is advising the farming community to be extremely wary of any suspicious calls, texts or emails as a scam specifically targeting the agricultural sector has been identified.

During December farmers start to receive payments through the SFP (Single Farm Payment). Information about the payments is publically available, meaning criminals are able to directly target victims making their approaches appear more convincing.

The scam communications will typically claim that fraud has been detected on the farmer’s bank account and that urgent action is required to safeguard funds.

The victim is then persuaded to divulge personal or financial information, or even to transfer money directly into a so-called ‘safe account’.

With some grants worth thousands of pounds, in past years fraudsters have stolen significant amounts of money from their victims. 

UK Government’s decision to slash Wales’ agricultural budget branded a ‘Brexit betrayal’

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has branded the UK Government’s decision to slash Wales’ agricultural budget as a ‘Brexit betrayal’, after chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed in Wednesday’s (November 25) spending review that the budget would be cut by at least £95 million for the coming financial year.

Following a 2019 Conservative Manifesto promise, the Wales’ agricultural and rural development budget was expected to have been £337 million, but the 2021-2022 budget will now be £242 million - a cut of around 28% - while the full loss when projected RDP spend and the 15% pillar transfer is taken into account is £137m.

The announcement came two days after the three devolved governments (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) wrote jointly to Defra Secretary George Eustice urging him to provide assurances that the budget for agriculture would be maintained, and almost a fortnight after FUW President Glyn Roberts wrote to Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart asking the same.

“The 2019 Conservative Manifesto stated ‘...we will guarantee the current annual budget to farmers in every year of the next Parliament’, thereby securing the votes of many farmers in Welsh constituencies,” said Mr Roberts.

FUW response to devolved nations' call for clarity on future rural funding

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has responded to the devolved nations’ call for clarity on future rural funding, urging Defra Secretary George Eustice to ensure that previous funding commitments made by the UK Government are honoured.

The response follows the announcement that, ahead of the UK Spending Review, the devolved administrations have written again collectively to the UK Government calling for assurances that all lost EU funding will be fully replaced to provide certainty for the rural economy.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: "We wrote to Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart more than a week ago, copying in Defra Secretary George Eustice and the Chancellor, highlighting concerns that funding for agriculture in Wales could be cut severely in the forthcoming spending review, in direct contradiction to what was promised in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto.

Supporting local businesses now more important than ever, FUW says

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging shoppers to keep their Christmas shopping local to show support for rural and local businesses, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how vital local shops are.

FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “As we speed towards Christmas, I would urge you to think about your rural businesses and see if you can buy local, either for the upcoming Christmas dinner or even gifts for family and friends. 

“This year we have seen how important the local shops and businesses are. Many of us relied on them to help out with delivering food and other essentials during the lockdowns and now is the time to repay that favour by supporting them.”

Food industry writes to PM urging essential action

The FUW and other key organisations representing Welsh food and drink producers and manufacturers have written an open letter to the Prime Minister highlighting key issues that must be addressed immediately to avoid detrimental impacts to the industry following the end of the EU Withdrawal period.

“The European Union is the largest market for Welsh food and drink businesses to export their goods to, and includes exports of red meat and dairy products worth an estimated £320 million to Wales,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

“What happens in the run up to 1st January 2021 is critical to the economic viability of many food, drink and farming businesses and the supply chains and jobs they support,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts. 

The nine organisations which signed the letter comprised the British Meat Processors Association, CLA Cymru, Farmers’ Union of Wales, Food and Drink Federation Cymru, Livestock Auctioneers Association, National Beef Association, NFU Cymru, National Sheep Association Cymru and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society.

FUW dismayed by WG decision to axe hydropower support

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has reacted with dismay that support for Welsh Hydropower has been axed and is urging the Welsh Government to look for a long term solution to keep the production of hydropower on farms a viable option. 

The FUW has consistently recognised the threat represented by climate change and the need to take action and farmers in Wales have been instrumental in helping achieve a more than five-fold increase in renewable energy production in the past 15 years.

FUW Policy Officer Charlotte Priddy said: “We are dismayed to hear that the Welsh Government has changed their grant scheme to only supporting community owned hydropower projects with their rates bills, a scheme that has previously provided £1m of support to the sector over the last four years. 

FUW discusses perfect storm for mental health with Minister

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has highlighted an array of issues facing the farming community, which if left unaddressed could be the perfect storm for farmers' mental health. In a virtual meeting with Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan, Union officials discussed how the combination of Brexit uncertainty, Covid-19 and proposed new farming policies are putting immense pressure on farmers and their mental health.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We had a very good meeting with Eluned Morgan and we raised many pertinent issues which play on our farmers’ mind. As we all know the problems on farms are plentiful and some can be addressed by talking about them, others however require the Welsh Government to re-evaluate their current and future agricultural policies.” 

Mr Roberts said that the imminent danger of substandard imports arising due to new trade deals, new subsidy schemes which fail to specifically address economic prosperity for rural communities, the lack of preparation for a no-deal scenario at Welsh ports and in other areas, the rapid impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global supply chains and also the increased use of public access which has caused a broad range of problems for our members, all add to the perfect storm that is brewing. 

FUW gives cautious welcome to Welsh Government statement on Simplifying Agricultural Support

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has given a cautious welcome to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs’ announcement of the outcome of a consultation on simplifying agricultural support in Wales.

The Sustainable Farming and our Land: Simplifying Agricultural Support consultation, which ended on the 23 October 2020, proposed eleven changes to the Basic Payment Scheme and a number of major changes to the principles underpinning the Rural Development Programme.

Responding to the announcement, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “We welcome the fact that the Welsh Government has accepted many of the concerns we raised, including in terms of impacts for cross border farmers and young farmers.” 

In line with the FUW’s views, the Welsh Government has now agreed to provide a derogation for cross-border farmers with less than 5 hectares of Welsh Land so they can rely on the land they had available in another administration in 2020.

EU and UK must pull out all the stops to avoid economic recklessness of ‘no-deal’ says FUW

With little over six weeks to go before the end of the EU withdrawal period and many areas of agreement reached between the EU and UK in trade negotiations - but the subjects of fisheries and state aid rules still major obstacles to progress as the negotiations reach their final stages - the FUW has urged both the UK and EU to avoid the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit at all costs.

The call comes a day after Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice acknowledged on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that the sheep sector would face particular challenges in no-deal scenarios due to tariffs on lamb exports to the EU of around 40%, but tried to play the impact down for agricultural sectors.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said “The reality is that failure to reach a trade deal would have a catastrophic impact for our key agricultural sectors that would hit home very quickly, with the sheep industry likely to feel the impact most acutely. It would also cause untold disruption to food and other supply chains and complete anarchy at our ports.”

Mr Roberts said that such a failure would also have devastating impacts for EU businesses, and that it was therefore in both the EU and UK’s interest to ‘pull out all the stops’ to reach a deal.

Royal Assent for Agriculture Bill clears way for dangerous impacts on rural communities says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales says the newly passed Agriculture Act could open the door to devastating impacts on farming and rural communities if the UK Government does not place food security and the wellbeing of farming families and rural communities at the centre of policy development.

The Act, which received Royal Assent yesterday (November 11), outlines how future support for English farmers will be delivered as the UK leaves the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, while also setting out legislation relating to a broad range of agricultural and rural issues of relevance to Wales and the UK - including granting temporary powers to Welsh Ministers until a Welsh Agriculture Bill is brought forward.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We have welcomed the inclusion in the Act of a requirement for a report to be presented to parliament focusing on the impacts future trade deals could have on agriculture. 

“However, this is certainly not the red line preventing substandard food imports that farmers, environmentalists, animal rights campaigners and millions of members of the general public lobbied for.”

Mr Roberts said that the focus of the Act on ‘public payments for public goods’ was a major concern for FUW cross-border members with land in England.

Take advantage of free sheep scab testing, FUW urges members

News that examination of skin scrape samples from sheep showing suspect clinical signs of sheep scab is being offered free of charge in Wales, by the APHA and funded by the Welsh Government, between 2  November 2020 and  31 March 2021, has been cautiously welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

The scheme will aid accurate diagnosis, which is a prerequisite for appropriate treatment and successful control of sheep scab, which is a priority of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework.

Furthermore, the scheme will also encourage sheep farmers to work with their veterinary surgeon to protect their flocks from sheep scab.  As well as accurate diagnosis for controlling the disease if it occurs, good flock biosecurity is essential to keep it out. 

FUW deputy president Ian Rickman said: “It is extremely disappointing that the industry endorsed programme for the eradication of sheep scab, which was set to receive £5.1million from the Rural Development Programme last year, has been put on ice.