Funding for broadband welcomed, but it must reach rural communities

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has responded positively to news that there are plans to bring full fibre broadband to an additional three million homes and businesses in some of the UK’s most isolated rural communities, but stresses it must really reach them. 

The connection to 3.2 million UK premises, which was given the go-ahead after an Ofcom consultation, is reported to be part of a £12bn investment by Openreach to build full fibre infrastructure to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the end of this decade. 

Places set to benefit include Aberystwyth in west Wales, Millom in Cumbria, Thurso in north-east Scotland, and Ballycastle in County Antrim. Openreach is due to publish the full list of the 251 locations, referred to as Area 3, where it will build the new network. Ofcom has estimated there are 9.6 million homes and businesses situated in this final third of the UK.

Responding to the announcement, FUW Ceredigion county chairman Morys Ioan said: “The last few months have served as a stark example of how vital connectivity is. Our own Union staff, many of whom live in rural areas, have been working from home and we have continued to assist members with digital paperwork for their farm businesses. Without an internet connection this would not have been possible. 

“It is really good news that this extra funding is being directed at rural communities but we must make sure that it really does go to those premises who currently are not benefitting from full fibre broadband. Our rural towns and villages have been left behind in the race for better and faster connectivity and it is critical for the competitiveness and viability of rural businesses, and the economy, that tangible improvements are made now. The FUW has stressed on many occasions that those without a connection cannot diversify their businesses, that they cannot support their children’s education and that they cannot connect readily with Government programmes for advice and support payments as they are mandated to do.”

FUW urges vigilance following increase in dog thefts

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging farmers to be vigilant following alerts by South Wales Police that there has been an increase in dog thefts across the UK.

FUW Glamorgan County Executive Officer Rachel Saunders said: “Whilst recent statistics don’t show an increase in the South Wales policing area and these crimes are extremely rare, vigilance is the best policy. Dog theft is very distressing for both owner and pet and we urge our members and the public to not just be aware of the problem, but to take active steps to reduce the risk of their dog being stolen. Please also report all suspicious dog sales to the police on 101 or Trading Standards.”

Advice from South Wales Police urges dog owners to avoid leaving dogs in the garden or outside kennels if you are not home, to think twice before leaving your dog alone, secured outside a shop or any other location, to ensure your dog’s microchip information is up to date and to have a current photo of your dog.

For further advice on how to protect your dog from being stolen visit:

Tips to reduce the risk of dog theft

Dog theft is very distressing for both owner and pet. To try to reduce the risk of this happening follow the guidance and keep your dog safe.

Top Tips:

Avoid leaving dogs in the garden or outside kennels if you are not home
Think twice before leaving your dog alone, secured outside a shop or any other location
Make sure your dog’s microchip information is up to date
Keep a current photo of your dog

FUW welcomes vaccine trials as step forward in Bovine TB control

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the news that bovine TB vaccine trials are due to begin shortly in England and Wales. The trials form part of a longer-term strategy towards possible vaccine rollout by 2025 and will be conducted over the next 4 years on behalf of the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and Defra.

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer, said: “Bovine TB continues to be one of the most significant issues facing cattle keepers in Wales, with more than 12,000 cattle slaughtered in 2019 due to this disease.   Losing TB-free status is devastating to farming families and their businesses and the restrictions on a farm business can be emotionally and financially destructive.”  

The current Welsh bovine TB eradication programme target for TB freedom is 2041.  However, much of the current TB eradication programme is reactive and removes animals from the farm after they have contracted the disease.  Vaccination, in combination with a usable DIVA test, can act as a preventative measure and could play a vital role in disease eradication. 

“The start of vaccine trials represents many years of research and development into bovine TB vaccines and diagnostic tests.  We hope to be informed as the research continues and we will await the results of the trial with great interest. 

“Cattle vaccination continues to be one of the tools in the tool box that have, so far, been unavailable to our members and we welcome the news that work on this aspect of bovine TB control is moving forward. However, vaccination is not a silver bullet and it remains just one method of bovine TB control.  We continue to support an holistic approach to bovine TB control in Wales which is guided by science and not politics,” added Dr Wright. 

Wales’ farming Unions discuss climate change with UK's High-Level Climate Action Champion

Wales’ Farming Unions - NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales- held a successful joint virtual roundtable meeting with the UK's High-Level Climate Action Champion, Nigel Topping.

In addition to wider discussions around climate change, the roundtable event provided a platform to discuss the “Race to Zero” campaign, an international campaign for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery, which was launched on World Environment Day, and will run up to COP26 . 

Don’t be complacent when it comes to farm safety, FUW warns

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is warning the agriculture industry not to be complacent when it comes to keeping safe on farms. The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show a reduction in farm fatalities, highlighting that 18 less people have lost their lives last year and 9 less than the 5-year average (30).

Whilst this is the lowest number of deaths recorded in the last 5 years, there were still 21 deaths, including 3 in Wales. Half of the workers killed were aged 55 years or older and the youngest person killed was a 4-year old child.

While the number of deaths by each cause varies each year, the 5 most common remain as:

  • Struck by moving vehicles
  • Fall from height
  • Struck by an object
  • Killed by animals
  • Contact with machinery 

Responding to the latest statistics, FUW President Glyn Roberts, said: “Whilst this is a welcome reduction in fatalities, we still haven’t reached zero and just one death is one too much. There are still too many people dying on farms across the UK, and I urge the industry not be complacent - your safety and that of your family is hugely important. 

“Whichever way you look at it, we still have serious Health and Safety challenges on our farms: Over the last twenty years, other industries such as construction and quarrying have greatly improved their safety records, while unfortunately farming has not. It is frightening that you are, despite everything, six times more likely to be killed on a farm than you would on a building site.”

FUW asks: ‘Food supply chains and production - global outlook with a local strategy’ What has Covid-19 taught us?

As part of the virtual Royal Welsh Show, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is hosting a seminar to explore the lessons the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us when it comes to food and our supply chains, what measures need to be put in place to safeguard food producers and consumers and examine if local strategies with a global outlook are the key to food security.

Joining the virtual conversation on Tuesday 21 July are Carmarthen County Council Corporate Policy & Partnership Manager, Gwyneth Ayers;  Principal Investigator of IKnowFood Professor Bob Doherty; Cardiff University Professor of Governance and Development Kevin Morgan and Food and Drink Wales Deputy Head of Food David Morris.  

FUW President Glyn Roberts, who is chairing the event, said: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Welsh food producers and the dangers of trade and rural support policies which undermine UK food security have starkly come to the fore over recent months.

“Covid-19 hit all sectors of life and was met with panic buying and empty supermarket shelves. However, it wasn’t luxury items that the general public rushed to get their hands on but the essentials like food. 

“For many years the FUW has stressed that food security is an issue that needs desperate attention and the last few months have served to illustrate such concerns. I therefore look forward to discussing these and some other very pertinent issues with our panel of experts and hope many of you will join us online for this webinar.”

‘Mental Health - How are you doing’

The Farmers’ Union of Wales made a commitment at the Royal Welsh Show in 2017 to keep the spotlight on mental health issues for as long as it remains a problem in rural communities. Approaching the fourth year of awareness raising and doing everything it takes to help break the stigma, the Union is keeping the conversation going - online. 

FUW deputy president Ian Rickman said: “Under normal circumstances we would have held a seminar at the Royal Welsh Show, but given the circumstances - the conversation is moving online. We will be hosting a virtual seminar, where we explore what has changed, how far we have come and what issues still remain. I hope many of you will be joining us on the night to discuss the issue and share your experiences.” 

Titled ‘Mental Health- how are you doing?’, the event, as part of the virtual Royal Welsh Show, is screened on Thursday 23 July at 7pm.

Joining the panel are Emma Picton-Jones, founder of the DPJ Foundation, David Williams, Wales Regional Director for the Farming Community Network, Gareth Davies,Chief Executive Office, Tir Dewi and Suzy Deeley, Corporate Partnership Manager at RABI.

Speaking about the mental health situation in rural communities ahead of the event, David Williams, Wales Regional Director, Farming Community Network said: “Conversations around mental health are challenging, and in the farming community in particular, it can be especially difficult to open up about what you may be experiencing. Many of the common signs of mental ill-health can be missed when farmers are spending significant periods of time alone working and for long hours of the day. 

FUW looks forward to busy virtual Royal Welsh Show

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is looking forward to a busy virtual Royal Welsh Show, with a host of seminars focussing on food supply chains, rural connectivity, the insurance sector, mental health and knowledge exchange opportunities.

Speaking ahead of the event, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We are delighted to be a part of the virtual show. The Royal Welsh Show has always been the pinnacle event in the farming calendar and whilst things are not happening the way they normally would this year, we applaud the Show for its progressiveness in taking the event into the virtual world.

“Throughout the week the Union is hosting a variety of seminars, just like we would during the show and I’m looking forward to the wide range of conversations that are going to take place online.I hope many of you will be able join us and take part.”

Seminars arranged by the FUW and joining details are:

Farmers across Wales join online succession planning event

Farmers from across Wales have come together online for a succession planning event hosted by RDP Law in conjunction with the Farmers' Union Wales.

Leading the conversation was Sioned Thomas, head of the Agricultural and Private Client departments at RDP Law. Sioned began the session by outlining the importance of bringing the family together to discuss the future of the farm. Sioned went on to outline common aspects of succession planning such as partnership agreements, wills, and lasting powers of attorney. The reality of dying intestate (without a Will) was also covered.

The interactive session soon moved to a question and answer round, with many attendees looking to ask Sioned questions about their own situations. 

FUW reaction to WG Update on Sustainable Farming Scheme

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has reacted to the Welsh Government’s response to last year’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation saying it remains firmly convinced that families, jobs, communities and food production should be at the heart of planning a new policy - alongside other priorities.

During an update to the Senedd, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said a future agricultural support scheme will be developed around the United Nations Sustainable Land Management framework - an approach the Welsh Government has acknowledged is focused on the sustainable use of resources rather than a broader range of objectives.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s publication, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The proposal to adopt the United Nations’ Sustainable Land Management (SLM) principle as the objective and framework for a future policy fails to encompass wider Welsh goals and objectives, including those defined in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015, and therefore falls short of being an holistic policy. 

“While we welcome some of the conclusions reached in the Welsh Government's response to the consultation, we remain convinced that families, jobs and communities should be at the heart of planning a new policy - alongside sustainable food production and the SLM principles.” 

FUW welcomes extension to free BVD testing in Wales

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the news that free BVD testing for cattle farmers in Wales has been extended until 31 March 2021. 

The testing, which is provided through Gwaredu BVD, supports both youngstock testing and the hunt for persistently infected animals in order to help herds eliminate the disease and achieve BVD free status.  

More than 8,300 herds in Wales are now part of the programme and financial support is available to hunt PIs until the end of 2022. 

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer, said: “The FUW, along with other industry bodies, continues to work towards those measures which will help Wales eliminate BVD.  This extension allows more time for cattle herds to engage in this free testing programme in order to ensure that they have prepared their herds for the possibility of BVD legislation next year.”

The FUW was part of an industry group that submitted a paper to Welsh Government for consideration of BVD legislation following the voluntary Gwaredu BVD programme.  A consultation is set to take place in the autumn and the FUW will consult with its membership on the proposals. 

“The Union’s Animal Health and Welfare Committee have been fully engaged in both Gwardeu BVD and in discussing how future BVD legislation might work.  We know that BVD is costly and estimates suggest that this disease can cost £4,500 per year for the average beef herd, and £15,000 for dairy herds through associated issues such as lowered milk yields,  poor fertility, diarrhoea and respiratory problems.   

“We continue to encourage our members to participate in Gwaredu BVD and we are urging members to take advantage of this additional funding in order to determine the status of their herd and to work towards eliminating the disease where any issues are found,” added Dr Wright.

Auditor General exposes long-standing FUW concerns on Rural Development Programme

A damning report on Wales’ Rural Development Programme (RDP) by Audit Wales has highlighted long-standing concerns raised repeatedly by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

The Audit Wales Ensuring Value for Money from Rural Development Grants Made Without Competition Report, published today (June 30), says key aspects of the design, operation and oversight of the Welsh Government’s Rural Development fund were not effective enough to ensure £53 million of grant awards would deliver value for money, and that the Welsh Government had adopted an approach of granting funds without competition and, in some cases, without taking any alternative steps to ensure the projects would deliver value for money.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Welsh farmers pay the highest percentage of money possible into the RDP pot through a process called pillar transfer, totalling around £40 million a year, whereas in most EU countries and regions farmers pay a tiny fraction of this figure.

“When it was announced in 2013 that Wales would have the maximum 15% pillar transfer rate - the highest in the EU - we were promised an RDP that would in return deliver transformational change for our industry.

“Having since paid in a total of around £230 million, our industry deserved far better from the RDP, and the concerns that we had raised repeatedly since 2013 over the RDP should have been acted on sooner.”

Free online Mental Health Awareness training for agricultural sector in Wales

The DPJ Foundation are offering free mental health awareness training online to anyone who works in or lives in the agricultural sector in Wales.

As part of a grant from Welsh Government announced last year, the foundation initially booked several sessions across Wales to train up those in the community with the skills in Mental Health Awareness. Due to Covid-19 these sessions had to be cancelled but The DPJ Foundation have been working to find a way of providing this training during this difficult time.  

Emma Picton-Jones founder of The DPJ Foundation said ‘As with everyone, we have had to make some changes during this period and this is just one of them. The training is so important, especially with isolation being so prevalent and farmers facing an uncertain future. We hope by providing these sessions online we can put the confidence in our community to look out for each other and know how to support one another. It is going to take a long time for our sector to recover. It is vital that we understand how to look out for the most vulnerable among us’

Presidential team of the FUW re-elected

Members of the presidential team of the Farmers’ Union of Wales have been re-elected at a special virtual meeting of the Council of the Union.

The Presidential Team is democratically elected by the Union’s farmer members from across all 12 County Branches.

In their roles as Official FUW Representatives, the Presidential Team speaks exclusively on behalf of the Farmers of Wales at local, national and international levels. 

They also frequently represent the Union at ministerial meetings, stakeholder workshops and local branch meetings.

The full team includes the President Glyn Roberts and Deputy President Ian Rickman, as well as the Vice president for the North, Mid and South of Wales regions. 

Ian Rickman is a Carmarthenshire sheep farmer, who is a past county chairman of the FUW in Carmarthenshire, and has held the position of chairman of the hill farming and marginal land committee.

North Wales Vice President Eifion Huws, a highly respected Ayrshire cattle judge and dairy farmer, who has been representing the dairy industry in the hope of acquiring better conditions and prices for farmers.

Mid Wales Vice President Brian Bowen, who farms a mixed suckler cow and hill sheep unit near Tredegar. The farm consists of 150 acres of owned land with a further 1000 rented acres and 1200 acres of common rights on three separate commons. He runs the farm, along with his father, mother and son.

North Wales beef and sheep farmer unanimously re-elected as FUW President

North Wales beef and sheep farmer, Glyn Roberts, has been unanimously re-elected as President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales at a recent virtual meeting of the Council of the Union.

Glyn Roberts first became President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales in 2015. Since then he has helped to secure #FairFarmFunding for farmers in Wales; has focussed on the importance of agriculture in rural communities and on the Welsh language; and has promoted why #FarmingMatters on a national scale.

Speaking about his re-appointment, Glyn Roberts said: “It is an honour and privilege to serve as the President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales and I thank our members for putting their trust in me for another term.

“These are very uncertain times for our industry. Our sector is dealing with the repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak, Brexit and our future relationship with the EU is still uncertain and there are many other farming issues, such as water regulations, future farm policies and bovine TB, which will need to be addressed and resolved over the coming months and years.

“Taking this Union forward and ensuring that we advance and protect Wales’ family farms, both nationally and individually, in order to secure thriving, sustainable family farms here in Wales has always been our mission and vision - and we will continue to do everything we can to keep our farmers farming.”

Extension to EU Withdrawal Period must be agreed to safeguard economy - FUW Council says

An extension to the EU Withdrawal period must be agreed, if the UK Government and European Union fail to reach an agreement regarding close post-Withdrawal Period trading arrangements in the coming weeks.

That was the consensus reached by Council delegates of the Farmers’ Union of Wales at a special virtual meeting on Thursday 25 June. 

“Given around two thirds of identifiable Welsh exports go to European Union (EU) Member States and that Welsh agriculture is particularly dependent on such exports for its economic viability, failure to enter a close trading agreement with the EU after the current EU Withdrawal Period would be catastrophic for Wales and its farmers,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts. 

Succession planning in the spotlight at upcoming FUW virtual seminar

Succession planning is often a taboo subject in farming families. Yet it is a topic that requires attention and conversation. To help address some of the uncomfortable questions and shed light on issues that go beyond retirement planning, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has teamed up with South Wales based law firm RDP Law and is hosting a virtual seminar.

The event, which is free for FUW members, will take place on Wednesday, July 8 at 7.30 pm and is hosted via Zoom.

Leading the conversation on the night is Sioned Thomas, who heads up both the Agricultural and Private Client departments at RDP Law. She has extensive experience in estate administration and succession planning for farming clients as well as acquisition, disposal and re-financing of agricultural property. Sioned has a farming background and understands that the family relationship within a farming business is like no other. 

“Succession planning is vital for any farming family looking to protect the future of their business. A succession plan is a long-term plan about the future of the farming business, the goals and vision of the business and a plan on how to achieve them. 

Compulsory purchase and utilities work on your farm - do you know your rights?

Do you know what your rights are when it comes to compulsory purchase and utilities work on your farm? If you want to find out what can and can’t be done on your land, then sign-up to the Farmers’ Union of Wales webinar, which is being hosted in conjunction with  Davis Meade Property Consultants. 

This webinar on Zoom will be presented by Eifion Bibby and Charles Cowap of Davis Meade Property Consultants, building on their long association with the Union. It takes place on Tuesday 7 July at 7pm and will cover the basics of compulsory purchase including the legal rights of acquiring authorities and utility operators.  

Carmarthen food company job losses would be a major blow to rural economy and community

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has responded with dismay to the news that one of Wales’ biggest food companies, Castell Howell which employs around 700 staff, is having to consider job cuts because of the drop in hospitality trade caused by the covid-19 lockdown.

West Wales farmer and entrepreneur, Brian Jones, who formed Castell Howell Foods in the early 1980s, has previously been recognised for his services to agriculture with the Farmers’ Union of Wales External award for services to agriculture.

Responding to the news, FUW Carmarthenshire chairman Phil Jones said: “Brian has done so much for agriculture and his passion for Wales as a food destination has been second to none. His commitment to do what is good for Wales as well as His Celtic Pride brand has always been an example of that. 

“For the company to now face potential job losses because of covid-19 is heartbreaking to say the least. The wider consequences for the rural economy, suppliers and staff could be drastic if no alternative can be found. 

“We are hoping that this will be only a small blip in this company's future and that they can return to normality, increase their business growth as soon as possible and re-employ not just those that may have lost their jobs but many more.

“The consequences for the food service industry have been devastating and sadly Castell Howell have not been exempt. With this in mind we call on the Welsh Government to do all they can to assist the sector in recovering from the lockdown downturn as quickly as possible.”

FUW calls for British Wool Covid-19 Support

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has written to Economy Minister, Ken Skates, following the news that British Wool has been denied covid-19 support through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLs). 

The covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant drop in demand for wool as the global market for cross bred wool has been shut since February this year.  

The busiest selling period for GB and Welsh wool is between February and May each year and the impact of the coronavirus on wool sales has therefore been particularly acute. 

In its letter, the FUW highlighted the impact that the closure of wool markets would have on the price received by sheep farmers for their wool and highlighted that sheep producers must still pay for this year's shearing costs.  

FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “The closure of normal wool markets has left British Wool with around one third of their wool stock unsold and this has had a direct impact on sheep producer incomes.  This unsold stock not only detrimentally affects calculated wool values, which are payable for the 2019-20 balance, but also means that British Wool are unable to pay an advance for this season’s wool.”  

Despite funding being made available to other wool purchasers,  British Wool has failed to qualify for support as they have been classified as a public sector body.  

“British Wool is wholly independent, self-funding and operates within a competitive market place.  We believe that British Wool should have fully qualified for support under the CBILs scheme or some other variation of covid-19 support for businesses.  

“Given the impact upon both the sector and upon primary producers, we have made our views known and have written to the Minister to call for a rethink on this funding decision,” added Ian Rickman. 

Lords reflect key FUW concerns in second reading of agri bill

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts has welcomed the fact that key concerns raised by the FUW in correspondence with members of the House of Lords were echoed by members across the political spectrum yesterday as the Agriculture Bill received its second reading in the house. 

The bill - considered to be the most important piece of UK legislation in relation to food and farming for more than 70 years - includes a clause that would ensure imported organic food from an overseas country is produced to standards equivalent to those applicable in the UK.

However, an attempt to introduce a similar clause requiring that any agricultural or food product imported into the UK under a trade agreement be produced to animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards equivalent to those in the UK was opposed by the UK Government and defeated during the third reading of the bill in the House of Commons on the 13th May 2020.

In a letter to members of the House of Lords, FUW President Glyn Roberts said “This has hugely angered farmers and consumers alike, not least given that the UK Government has committed to such a principle in numerous statements, and that maintaining UK standards and protecting consumers, farmers and food producers from sub-standard imports has cross-party support.

Farmers call on public to help avoid long term adverse impacts for UK food security and consumer health

Farmers in Wales are calling on the public to help them avoid long term adverse impacts for UK food security  and consumer health.

The call comes as a result of the UK Government blocking a change to the Agriculture Bill which would prevent food produced to lower animal welfare and environmental standards than is required of UK producers from being imported into the UK after the Brexit Withdrawal period.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Whichever way your MP voted, it's not too late to lobby them for the change to be reintroduced before the Agriculture Bill becomes law.

“You can send them a letter from our website making it clear that UK consumers and food producers deserve better, and let your voice be heard.”

The Agriculture Bill currently progressing through Parliament has, since being drafted by the UK Government, included a clause that would ensure imported organic food from an overseas country is produced to standards equivalent to those applicable in the UK.

An attempt to introduce a similar clause requiring that any agricultural or food product imported into the UK under a trade agreement be produced to animal health and welfare, plant health and environmental protection standards equivalent to those in the UK was opposed by the UK Government and defeated during the Third Reading of the Bill on the 13th May 2020.

UK agricultural global tariff announcement a step in the right direction

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has described the UK Government’s announcement of global tariff rates for key Welsh agricultural products which are broadly aligned with those of the European Union as a welcome step in the right direction - but has warned that these should not be watered down, whatever the outcome of current trade negotiations. 

Speaking just hours after a meeting with Greg Hands, the UK Government’s Minister for Trade Policy, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The importance of aligning agricultural tariffs for products such as beef, lamb and dairy produce is something the FUW made clear in a meeting with Minister Hands on Monday [May 18].

“Since February last year, we have written repeatedly to the UK Government regarding proposed draft tariff rates which would represent a major threat to UK farmers and consumers, the UK’s food security and would be a massive own goal in terms of reducing our negotiating capital in trade talks.”

In early March this year, the FUW responded to a consultation by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, stating that: ‘Tariffs on agricultural produce protect UK farm businesses against unfair competition from products produced in conditions which would be illegal in the UK, including in terms of environmental, health and welfare standards, workers rights and working conditions.

‘Be kind to yourself’ - FUW President urges farmers as many feel under pressure

Farmers’ Union of Wales President, Glyn Roberts, is urging farmers to be kind to themselves, as many are feeling the stress caused by the on-going Coronavirus pandemic. 

The call coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 18 - Sunday 24 May 2020), which focuses on kindness this year.

Speaking from his farm in North-Wales, he said: “These are very difficult times for us all and I know that many will be putting on a brave face, despite being worried, stressed and anxious for a variety of reasons. I urge you to be kind to yourself - if you feel like the world is crashing down on you, talk about it if you can and try not to put yourself under too much pressure. Along with the body, the mind is the best bit of kit a farmer can have. But it is also the hardest to maintain. We must listen to our body as well. It will tell you when you need to slow down and look after yourself.

“The single most effective thing you can do to help yourself to keep the mind healthy, is to talk. Talk about your struggles and about what you are feeling. Telling someone what you are going through is one of the biggest steps you can take – you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Equally, if you notice a family member or friend struggling - speak to them. Give them a call, have a virtual coffee catch-up. 

“One thing that we have seen all over the world, is that kindness is prevailing - especially in uncertain times. And amid the fear, there is still our community, support and hope. Better days are to come - a storm is usually followed by a rainbow. Be kind to yourself and others and remember - it’s ok not to be ok.”

Parliament must pursue amendments to agri bill to protect food security and safety

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says MPs and Lords must continue to work to introduce changes to the UK Agriculture Bill which protect the UK’s food security and maintain standards for consumers, after a critical amendment was blocked by the UK Government.

During the third reading of the Agriculture Bill - the first of its kind to take place under Westminster’s coronavirus 'hybrid' proceedings and electronic voting process - a clause which would prevent future trade deals from allowing food into the UK not produced to the standards required of farmers and processors in the UK was defeated by 328 to 277 votes, having failed to receive the support of the UK Government. 

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The FUW has highlighted the need for such an amendment in oral and written evidence to UK Parliament and Welsh Assembly committees. We believe it was a grave error on the part of the Government to oppose the amendment given that it had the support of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee and was supported passionately by MPs from across the political spectrum.”

Mr Roberts said FUW members and the public were appalled that an attempt to protect UK farmers and consumers from food produced to lower health, welfare and environmental standards had effectively been blocked by the Government, at a time when the importance of protecting the food security and health of the Nation was at the top of the agenda.

“With the Agriculture Bill now due to be considered by the House of Lords it is essential that they do all they can to correct this position before the Bill returns to the House of Commons, and I truly hope that the Government will support rather than obstruct this.”