Farmers Union of Wales announce new Head of Policy

The Farmers Union of Wales is delighted to announce that Gareth Parry has been appointed as Head of Policy just a few days before his wedding.

It was a double celebration for Gareth, born and bred in Llanfarian near Aberystwyth, as he and Catrin, the FUW headquarters Office Manager, were recently married. They have already settled on the family's dairy, beef and sheep farm in Llanafan, Ceredigion.

Gareth, who graduated from Aberystwyth University with a first class honours degree in agriculture and business studies, has been working for the Union as a Policy Officer for the past five years. He recently led the Union's 20,000 word response to the Welsh Government’s most recent Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation. He is the public face of the Union supporting the President in meetings at both Westminster and the Senedd, including regularly meeting with the Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary and his team. He also meets and guides members throughout Wales and is regularly seen interviewed by the media.

Gareth has already started in his role and is proud of the work that the Union achieves: “I am extremely proud of this opportunity and grateful to everyone for their support over the last few busy months. We have a team of hard-working staff with great expertise at the FUW and it is a privilege to work with them as we represent the interests of our members.

"I'm looking forward to the agricultural shows over the summer months, the opportunity to chat with Welsh farmers, to discuss the issues of the day with other organisations and to prepare for the next exciting period for the industry. It is no mean feat to set a new agricultural support policy for Wales as it is the foundation of the countryside, the economy, culture and heritage. I'm looking forward to playing a part in this important historical moment for Wales’ rural communities."

When the Union’s work allows, Gareth has a keen interest in car rallies and has competed on many occasions with his co-driver. Navigating these off road tracks with his driving partner, Scott Faulkner, they came home with the 'British Trials and Rally Drivers Association' cup back in 2019. The new head of policy has travelled the world rallying and he also enjoys restoring cars and vehicles.

Welcoming the appointment, FUW President Ian Rickman said: "We are delighted that Gareth has been appointed FUW’s Head of Policy. He is an accomplished, professional and intellectual ambassador for agriculture. We are very fortunate to have benefited from his expertise and sharp mind during the past few months. We look forward to continuing to work with Gareth, as we step into the next part of this important journey within Welsh agriculture.

Guto Bebb, FUW Chief Executive said: "Many congratulations to Gareth on his appointment to this prominent role and to Catrin and him on their recent wedding. We are proud of the quality of our staff and are grateful to all our staff members throughout Wales for their dedication to the Union.

"Whilst we celebrate Gareth’s announcement, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Nick Fenwick, our former Head of Policy for his work for the FUW and for Welsh agriculture. Nick's contribution to the Union’s work and the industry during a long period of time is very much appreciated. Staff and members have had the privilege of working with an agricultural expert who showed great commitment and professionalism to working on behalf of Welsh farmers. We wish him and his family well for the future.”

Mona Dairy announcement highlights need for support, says FUW

Mona Dairy have announced an uncertain future for their milk suppliers after failing to secure funding from stakeholders and have advised their milk suppliers that an alternative milk processing company will be processing milk in an interim period.

The facility is powered by renewable energy and has the potential to produce 30,000 tonnes of continental cheese a year. Mona Dairy’s commitment to drive down the carbon footprint of cheese production saw them being the first in the UK to utilise electric lorries for milk collections.

FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee Chair Brian Walters said: “Undoubtedly, this loss will be hard hitting for both the local economy and the 31 producers that currently supply milk to Mona Dairy.

“Dairy farmers throughout Wales are facing an unprecedented period of uncertainty, having dealt with the difficulties of a long wet winter alongside the continuing turmoil of changes to future agricultural support and red tape.

“Compliance with the Control of Agricultural Pollution regulations and the ever tightening noose of bovine TB infections continue to bring great difficulties and extortionate costs to the sector.

“We hope that as a result of a weak spring flush and an improving dairy commodities market, other milk processors will be in a favourable position to support milk producers currently supplying Mona Dairy.

“However, for a more permanent resolution, it is hoped that a new buyer could be sought to take advantage of these innovative facilities at the site on Ynys Môn. Given the sustainability credentials and economic opportunity that Mona Dairy has to offer, we call on the Welsh Government for support in facilitating a positive outcome for the business.

“FUW members affected by this news are welcome to contact their county offices for guidance and support during this challenging time,” Mr Walters concluded.

FUW welcomes Welsh Government announcement to change on-farm slaughter measures around bovine TB

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has today welcomed the news that the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies accepts in full the recommendations presented to him by the newly established Technical Advisory Group on a suite of measures that will provide flexibility for the on-farm slaughter of cattle with bovine TB.

Farming families, already under emotional and financial pressure from TB breakdowns in cattle have been reduced to tears due to the harsh and harrowing experience of watching cattle being put down on their farmyards.

Dai Miles, FUW Deputy President said: “This is certainly welcome news that the Cabinet Secretary has listened to the concerns of the industry and most importantly taken action by accepting these recommendations in full.”

The TAG conducted its first meeting on 15 April under the guidance of Professor Glyn Hewinson, who is also chair of Sêr Cymru at the TB Centre of Excellence in Aberystwyth.

The majority of on-farm slaughter cases are due to cattle testing positive for bovine TB whilst under medicated withdrawal periods. Slaughtering also occurs on farmyards when cows are heavily pregnant or within the first week post-calving and are not permitted to be transported off farm under animal transport regulations.

Dai Miles continued: “The FUW were invited to provide written and oral evidence to the TAG for consideration, and we’re pleased that our work supported the changes announced today.

“Our recommendations were aimed at reducing the number of cattle slaughtered on-farm following bovine TB-breakdowns and to provide support in circumstances where on-farm slaughter is unavoidable.

“We welcome the pace at which this process has taken place and hope that these actions can be implemented as soon as possible to reduce the occurrence of on-farm slaughter. The effects of this process has a long-term detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of our farming families.

“However, we must not forget that the need to discuss the subject of alleviating the horrors of on-farm slaughter looks to remedy the symptom rather than address the root cause of the issue. This continues to be the abysmal track record of a long standing ineffective TB eradication programme in Wales.

“We will continue to work in partnership with the TAG and other stakeholders to address other ways in which the TB eradication programme can be improved for the benefit of all cattle farmers in Wales,” FUW Deputy President concluded.

Welsh Government announcement on BPS extension welcome news for the farming industry, says FUW

FUW President Ian Rickman, has today welcomed the news that the Welsh Government is to maintain the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to support Welsh farmers alongside the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) preparatory phase for 2025.

Responding to the statement made by Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “We welcome the statement made by the Cabinet Secretary on the future of farming in Wales and his plans to work in partnership with the farming industry.

“Since the last consultation, we have consistently called on the Welsh Government to extend the BPS at current levels for next year given the amount of change required in regards to the Sustainable Farming Scheme within the proposed time frame.

“This announcement on maintaining the BPS alongside an SFS preparatory phase next year is a major step in the right direction. It will provide both stability for farming businesses and a solid foundation for meaningful discussions.

“The development of the SFS represents the most significant change in agricultural policy in Wales for decades. It is therefore reassuring that the Cabinet Secretary maintains that the Scheme will not be introduced until it is ready.”

The statement also refers to the continuation of rural investment schemes, including consideration of extending the Habitat Wales Scheme and support for organic producers.

“It is essential that we avoid any gaps in support during the transition from the BPS to the SFS which underpins the economic sustainability of farming businesses. The continuation of such support is therefore welcomed while we work to design a Scheme that delivers for farming businesses, our rural communities and the environment.

“While we welcome the statement today which demonstrates a willingness to listen, to work with the industry and support rural Wales, we’ll wait to hear the finer details through the Cabinet Secretary’s oral statement in plenary this afternoon. 

“There has been a real frustration within the industry over recent months, and scrutiny of the finer details will be crucial as this work progresses over the coming weeks.”

“FUW members are at the heart of our organisation and we will continue to do our utmost to ensure that we achieve the best possible outcomes for our family farms and the wider industry,” concluded Ian Rickman.

Sustainable Farming Scheme Ministerial Roundtable welcomed, but must deliver meaningful change, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed an announcement from the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs outlining his plans to create a Ministerial Roundtable which will consider the evidence and lead on the development of a revised Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

In response to the statement, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “One of our key asks following the consultation was to establish a small focused SFS design stakeholder group tasked with considering details of different elements of the scheme, along with payment rates and overall budgetary requirements.

“We therefore welcome today's announcement which outlines plans to establish such a group, providing us with a formal platform to scrutinise and rework the scheme so that it properly delivers for Welsh farmers and our rural communities.

“However, I reiterate this message again; the scheme needs far more than touching up around the edges. It needs a radical rethink and this group must now deliver meaningful change within the timeframe presented to us.”

The Cabinet Secretary’s statement also highlights how one of the first tasks of the Ministerial Roundtable will be to look at any further and alternative proposals to achieve additional carbon sequestration within the SFS.

“This development is also welcomed given the urgent need to evaluate the science around net zero and carbon sequestration to help develop the SFS. This element needs to take into account all actions farmers can undertake to make progress towards net zero in a sustainable way.

“The engagement we’ve had as a Union with the Cabinet Secretary and his officials to date has been positive and this statement reflects those discussions. The FUW is ready to burn the midnight oil to ensure we get to the right place before the end of the year, in order that this scheme is workable both economically and environmentally.” concluded Mr Rickman.

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