“Don’t become a statistic - please seek help” FUW urges farmers

Agriculture carries the highest rate of suicide above any other occupation and that’s why ahead of World Suicide Prevention day (Tuesday 10 September), the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging those going through a tough time to seek help. 

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Poor mental health is an issue that affects the farming community greatly and it is well known that loneliness and social isolation can lead to mental health problems.

“The FUW understands that failing to deal with poor mental wellbeing could have serious consequences and lead to the farm running inefficiently, a serious injury, relationship breakdowns, poor physical health and even worse, it could lead to suicide.” 

Mr Roberts added that everyone can make a contribution in preventing suicide and believes that it is by joining together, those suffering can be better supported. 

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Cash boost for Scotland is political game playing - FUW says

The announcement that Scottish farmers will benefit from £160 million as a top up payment from the UK Government, as well as a £51.4m boost in convergence funding, has been slammed as political game playing by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

FUW President Glyn Roberts responded saying: “There can be absolutely no doubt that direct support, which underpins safe, top-quality food production, must be maintained to avoid causing irreparable damage to Wales and of course the UK as a whole. 

“As such, we welcomed the decision to set up a review of allocations based on environmental, agricultural and socio-economic factors, and the top up of £5.2 million for Wales means that as such our budget will be maintained until 2022. 

“However, the FUW has long argued that funding needs to be allocated fairly and giving Scotland an extra £160 million, could cause market distortion on an unprecedented scale and is extremely unfair on Welsh farmers.”

The Union President further pointed out that in 2017 Scottish farm businesses received an average Pillar 1 payment of £23,971, which was more than 30% higher than the UK average of £18,306, and 65% higher than the Welsh average of £14,568.(figures based on data downloaded from http://cap-payments.defra.gov.uk).

“As such, this reallocation of funding is likely to exacerbate differences between farm businesses in different nations which must compete in the same marketplace. Funding allocations like this must not be a precedent for future,” said Glyn Roberts.

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Usk Show to put focus on #farmingmatters

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is looking forward to a busy, #farmingmatters focused Usk show, on Saturday 14 September, which is being held at the 100 acre Usk Showground near the village of Gwernesney just outside Usk.

The event, which has been held on the second Saturday in September since 1844, celebrates the very best of Monmouthshire farming and rural life.

FUW Gwent County Executive Officer Glyn Davies said: “We are really looking forward to Usk show - it is a time to show the quality of produce, a time to meet and catch up with old friends and a time to demonstrate the value of agriculture to a wider audience.

“I have no doubt that we will see many people with little or no background in agriculture who are increasingly interested in food, food production, quality produce and buying locally here at the show. 

“We extend a warm welcome to them and our members to join us for a cup of tea and plenty of #farmingmatters chats. 

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Withdrawing Article 50 must be an option in Brexit calamity

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has renewed calls for Article 50 to be revoked to allow the UK to ‘take back control’ and deliver a smooth Brexit that does not threaten millions of livelihoods.

Following meetings with MPs and Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns in London (Tuesday, 3 September), FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We had very constructive discussions about the contingency planning required to support farmers and farming communities in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU next month. 

“But we also stressed that other options, must be considered if we are to safeguard the future of our family farms and the rural economy in Wales.

“Those who are enthusiastic about Brexit should also be realistic about the dangers of getting it wrong, and the need for an orderly withdrawal over a realistic timescale.

“The damage being done by the current strategy to businesses, our economy, our international reputation and our political parties is clear for everyone to see.”

Mr Roberts said that revoking Article 50 - a policy first agreed at an emergency meeting of the Union’s presidential team and committee chairs in mid January - must be considered as it is the only option which would take back control over the process and return us to a situation where a smooth and orderly Brexit was possible.

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FUW hosts consultation events on Welsh Government Sustainable Farming Scheme plans

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) is holding meetings for members and other interested parties across Wales to discuss the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation.

The consultation, launched by Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths in July, outlines proposals for future farm and rural support which have been revised in light of the comments received in response to the 2018 Brexit and our Land consultation.

It proposes that future support should be designed around the principle of sustainability in a way which brings together the ‘wide-ranging and significant economic, environmental and social contribution or farmers’, through a single Sustainable Farming Scheme based on the principles of providing a meaningful and stable income stream; rewarding outcomes in a fair way; paying for both new and existing sustainable practices; and flexibility allowing it apply to every type of farm.

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts said: “We welcome the fact that the consultation document acknowledges many of the concerns raised by respondents to last years Brexit and our Land consultation, and focuses on farmers and food producers.

“Concerns highlighted by the FUW last year about the dangers of setting a fixed timetable and ploughing ahead with proposals at a time of complete uncertainty over Brexit and its impacts, and undertaking detailed modelling and economic assessments of proposals before coming to any decision, also appear to have been taken on board.”

Mr Roberts said that this acknowledgement and the consultative tone of the document would help to discuss the proposals with the industry and urges farmers to join the FUW at it’s consultation meetings.

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Be mindful of grass burning regs to avoid fines - FUW reminds farmers

Farmers are being reminded to follow the Heather and Grass Burning Code to avoid damage to the environment, hefty fines and cross compliance penalties. 

The burning of heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse and Vaccinium (bilberry) is only allowed between 1 October - 31 March in upland areas (land in the Severely Disadvantaged Area of the Less Favoured Area) and 1 November - 15 March elsewhere.

It is possible to carry out controlled burns at other times but only under a licence that may be obtained in very specific circumstances.

FUW Vice President Ian Rickman said: “It is really important that farmers remember that if they don’t comply with the Burning Regulations, they are breaking the law and may face a fine up to £1,000. They could also be looking at penalties under cross compliance rules.” 

The Heather and Grass Burning Code asks farmers to prepare thoroughly before any burning is undertaken as well as plan and consult well in advance of the burning season. 

Those planning a controlled burn need to contact the local Fire and Rescue Service, consult and co-operate with neighbours, especially woodland owners, to establish or confirm a burning programme for the year and those on common land are advised to consult fellow Commoners and the local Commoners’ Association if there is one. 

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