The disastrous impacts of a no-deal Brexit was just one of the issues raised during a meeting between the Farmers’ Union of Wales and agriculture Secretary Michael Gove and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns.
During the meeting, FUW President Glyn Roberts told messrs Gove and Cairns that no responsible UK Government or Parliament would allow the UK to leave the EU without a deal.
“We have been relentless in highlighting the grave economic impacts for agriculture, rural communities and other industries of a hard Brexit, and our concerns regarding the rhetoric of both of the prime ministerial candidates was made clear to both Secretaries of State.
“The latest analysis by Hybu Cig Cymru suggesting 92.5% of our lamb export trade could disappear if we go over the Brexit cliff on 31st October highlight our concerns.”
Mr Roberts also highlighted the FUW’s concerns that the tariff rates that the UK Government intended to put in place for food imports were a fraction of the rates UK exporters would have to pay to send produce into the EU.
Read more: FUW discusses major farming concerns with Secretaries of State
Dog attacks on livestock in the countryside remain a major concern for farmers across Wales and to help the industry raise awareness of the problems arising from irresponsible dog ownership, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is handing out free gate-post warning signs at the Royal Welsh Show.
The signs are part of the FUW’s campaign “Your Dog, Your Responsibility,” which aims, not only to highlight the devastation caused by dog attacks on livestock, but also the serious diseases that can be spread from dogs to cattle when owners do not clean up after their dog.
“The impact of a dog attack on a farming family can be devastating. Alongside causing horrific injuries, one dog attack can cost thousands of pounds in lost stock, veterinary bills and reduced growth rates.
“In today’s market place with ever tighter margins, these additional costs have serious financial implications for the future solvency of the farm business.
Read more: Have you got your FUW dog attack warning signs?
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the Welsh Government’s decision to delay the introduction of radical changes to agricultural and rural support, describing the decision as the right move in light of huge uncertainty and instability around Brexit.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce the change later today as he reveals the Welsh Government’s legislative programme for the coming year.
It had originally been intended that significant changes to current policies be phased in from 2021.
Reacting to the announcement, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We have argued since the 2016 Brexit referendum that new policies should be carefully crafted in light of clear knowledge of the likely trading environment our farmers will face after Brexit.
“Given that major reforms are being debated in the EU, we have also said we need to be informed by those changes which will affect our main competitors and markets on the continent.”
Mr Roberts said that these messages had been a main theme in the FUW’s response to last year’s Welsh Government Brexit and our Land consultation, which proposed the rapid introduction of radical reforms.
“The decision to delay matters is therefore extremely welcome and the only rational thing to do in the circumstances.
Read more: FUW welcomes farm policy reform delay
Life on farm has never been easy. Farmers accept and choose the long hours, hard work and have a strong desire to keep animals healthy and well.
Complying with the highest animal health and welfare standards is at the top of their agenda and if their animals aren’t in good health they won’t leave a stone unturned to see them fit and well again soon. After all, healthy animals make for a healthy business. But what happens to our farmers when they are not well?
What is the emotional toll on them if their animals are sick or a whole herd comes down with bovine TB? Whilst a vet will be called to see to a sick cow, many farmers will not let their own feelings filter past the farmgate.
And the number of farmers who are suffering from the stress and heart ache is likely to be frighteningly high, given that, according to Defra’s latest bovine TB statistics (12 months up to the end of March 2019), the total number of animals slaughtered was 11662; herds under movement restrictions were 1002; total cattle tests carried out were 2,107,970 and there have been 730 new incidents.
To address the problem and discuss how bovine TB is affecting farmers mentally, the FUW is hosting a special seminar at the Royal Welsh Show - entitled ‘What impacts do TB breakdowns have on mental health?’, the Union looks forward to welcoming Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, Gareth Davies from farming charity Tir Dewi, Emma Picton-Jones from rural charity the DPJ Foundation, Charles Smith from farming charity Farm Community Network and Linda Jones from the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute to the discussion panel.
The seminar starts at 11am on Monday (July 22) and is chaired by FUW Senior Policy Officer Dr Hazel Wright.
Looking forward to the seminar, Dr Wright said: “ The FUW has recently called on the Welsh Government to establish a Wales Bovine TB Economics Task and Finish Group to provide robust, Welsh specific information on the financial impact of a TB breakdown and the subsequent mental health impacts on farmers.
“In this seminar we will discuss the relationship between mental health issues and economic pressures on farmers following a TB outbreak to ensure that farmers are receiving enough support.”
Worried about the families who have to deal with continuing bovine TB breakdowns, Ceredigion MP Ben Lake said: "While the debate about the efficacy of the Government's Bovine TB eradication policy and testing regime continues, little thought is given about the families who find themselves caught in the middle of it all, having to deal with the terrible consequences of a reactor or breakdown.
Read more: Bovine TB and its impact on human mental health - FUW looks for answers
A new campaign to cut country crime across Glamorgan has been launched to put an end to opportunist thieves stealing valuable agricultural equipment and tools.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales Glamorgan county team have already been in talks with South Wales Police Commissioner Alun Michael over the increasing number of thefts and vandalism in the region.
Working with South Wales Police, FUW County Executive Officer Rachel Saunders and members of the union’s county executive are putting in place new measures to identify and prevent rural crime.
“There are increasing numbers of incidents where valuable machinery has been taken, and it has proven to be impossible to retrieve it,” said Rachel. “Now, by building closer links between our members and the police, we aim to turn this round and make would-be thieves think again about targeting South Wales.”
First step in the campaign is to build links across the region’s farming community, making landowners - whether they are members or not - aware that there is support out there.
“The problem we have identified is that many farmers just don’t report random crime, for one reason or another. Our message is that everyone in the countryside needs to report even the most trivial offence to the police, and get a crime number,” said Rachel.
Read more: Rural crime -farmers and landowners launch a new Cymru Country Crime Stoppers programme
Brecon and Radnorshire farmers will have the chance to question four prospective Brecon MP candidates - Labour’s Tomos Davies, Conservative Chris Davies, Welsh Liberals’ leader Jane Dodds and UKIP’s Liz Phillips - at the Greyhound Hotel, Builth, LD2 3AR on Monday 15 July at 7pm, just before the by-election.
FUW Brecon and Radnor County Executive Officer Aled Jones said: “It is essential for farmers and landowners to have the opportunity to question and query party candidates as well as hearing their views on the future of rural Wales.
“I urge our members and everyone who has an interest in the countryside to attend this event, so that they can make a fully informed decision when they take to the polls.”
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate Lady Lily The Pink and The Brexit Party’s Des Parkinson have also been invited.