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Farming

Industry welcomes transitional plan

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Meurig Raymond: 'At least two years for smooth Brexit'

PROPOSALS for a period of transition, and protections for the Republic of Ireland and EU citizens living in the UK currently are welcome, but clarity on EU labour and farming subsidies is still needed commented Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, responding to the PM’s speech on Brexit in Florence last week.

Dr Bryans continued: “We welcome Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals today to protect the common travel area of the Republic of Ireland and to protect the rights of EU citizens working in the UK. It is of upmost importance that the dairy sector can trade with confidence and certainty.

The EU is our biggest export market, and so it is vital we can continue to trade tariff-free and maintain a close and positive relationship whilst negotiations continue and beyond.

“We welcome a transition period as this would provide stability. However, we also believe it is important that both the UK and EU take steps to address ongoing concerns over access to skilled and unskilled EU labour and subsidies for UK farmers once this period ends. These represent key areas of concern for the UK dairy industry.

“Dairy UK will continue to represent the interests of the UK dairy sector to government throughout the negotiations to ensure our members can trade successfully, and consumers can continue to enjoy British dairy products.”

NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Farmers and growers are becoming increasingly alarmed at the prospect of a ‘no deal’ departure from the EU. The resulting disruption to trade, access to labour and business stability would pose a fundamental threat to the viability of many of their businesses.

“The implementation period that the Prime Minister spoke of will be crucial if we are to reach a Brexit settlement that backs British farming, although we await further details on exactly how such a transition will work.

“We believe at least two years is needed to ensure a smooth Brexit, while also agreeing a future relationship between the EU and UK which recognises their mutual importance in terms of trade.

“With over 70% of our exports of food and non-alcoholic drinks being sent to EU markets, the NFU has been making the strongest case for a comprehensive free trade agreement between the EU and UK.

“We were pleased to hear the Prime Minister say there is no intention to impose tariffs where none currently exist, which the NFU takes as a strong commitment to securing a free trade deal with the EU.

“Any agreement should maintain as far as practicable the free flow of agri-food products between the EU and UK, and following today’s speech this remains a realistic prospect, although much now depends on proper progress being made in the negotiations.

“We were also very interested to hear the Prime Minister’s commitment to maintaining free movement of people involving a registration system for new arrivals. However, the industry desperately needs more detail on how the immigration system will work both during and after the transition – vague pledges and offers are not enough if potential workers are to be reassured that they can legally take up the jobs on offer.

“The Prime Minister’s speech today reflects many of the Brexit policies the NFU has proposed since the EU referendum. Despite the lack of detail, we hope that today’s speech will move negotiations forward so that there is stability for agriculture, businesses, the economy and society at large after Brexit.

“Brexit means hard choices – politicians on all sides must now start being more honest about the trade-offs involved and the difficult questions that need answering if we are to make it a success.”

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Farming

Glyphosate license renewed for five years

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Glyphosate renewal: NFU welcomes EU approval

18 countries have backed the renewal of glyphosate for five years, with nine voting against and one abstaining.

At least 16 votes were required to renew glyphosate’s license.

A complete ban would have meant a competitive disadvantage for European farmers compared to other countries for example South America who are still allowed to use it.

The EU’s Health and Food Safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis tweeted: “Today’s vote shows that when we all want to, we are able to share and accept our collective responsibility in decision making.”

The European Commission, which tabled the extension, said in a statement: “The proposal voted today enjoys the broadest possible support by the Member States while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment in line with EU legislation. The Commission will not adopt the decision before the current authorization expires on 15 December…”

The controversial weed killer has been under the spotlight in the EU since June 2016, when its previous 15-year license expired and an 18-month extension was granted.

The licence extension has been the source of much controversy with EU states divided on whether the chemical is safe for use after the WHO’s cancer agency concluded it probably causes cancer.

Welcoming the decision Guy Smith, NFU Vice President, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the farmers across the country who have lobbied their MEPs and invited them out on to farm to see first-hand the benefits glyphosate brings, and those who have made the case for glyphosate’s reauthorisation on social media. I am convinced their efforts have helped us reach this positive outcome.

“It is good news that farmers and growers will be able to continue using glyphosate for another five years. However, the fact remains that there is absolutely no regulatory reason why it should not have been re-authorised for 15 years, as was originally proposed.

“Today’s decision will be welcomed by farmers who have watched with growing concern as what should have been a straightforward decision has become increasingly political.”

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: “The scaremongering and indecision over this product had left farmers and growers fearing they were staring over a cliff edge, so this will be greeted with enormous relief.”

Miss McIntyre, member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said: “It should never have taken this long to renew the licence and it should have been renewed for a full 15 years but the last minute reprieve and the licence for five years is welcome.

“For a zero Improvement in public health and safety, we would have been worsening food security, soil quality, biodiversity and climate change.”

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, commented: “This is a toxic decision. The Commission are ignoring huge opposition from civil society; the almost one and a half million EU citizens who have signed a petition against glyphosate and the European Parliament who recently voted for a five-year phase out.”

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Farming

NFU Cymru wants a Welsh Xmas

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World class produce: Welsh farmers produce the best

MORE than half (58%) of Welsh consumers did not know if any of the items of their Christmas dinner last year were produced in Wales, according to a new survey commissioned by NFU Cymru.

The findings of the survey, conducted by YouGov, show that only 18% of Welsh consumers had Welsh turkey for Christmas dinner in 2016, while only 29% ate Welsh potatoes.

The survey did, however, show that shoppers recognise the hallmarks of Welsh produce. The findings show that consumers associate Welsh produce with quality (78%), high production standards (66%), high environmental standards (59%) and good value for money (53%).

In a bid to encourage more shoppers to buy more Welsh during the festive period this year, NFU Cymru has launched a new ‘Proud to Produce Your Christmas’ campaign at this year’s Royal Welsh Winter Fair, highlighting the role that Welsh farmers and growers play in producing the ingredients of a traditional Christmas dinner. The initiative aims to underline that it is possible to source the staple items of a traditional Christmas meal here in Wales, while also encouraging the public to support the Welsh food and farming sector by buying Welsh produce for their Christmas dinner this year.

The campaign features a video of a delicious Welsh Christmas feast and shows some of the producers across Wales who are responsible for producing the ingredients. The video includes turkeys reared in Meirionnydd, potatoes from Pembrokeshire, Brussel sprouts grown in Monmouthshire and pigs in blankets produced in Clwyd. The short film also highlights that PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef are also enjoyed in homes throughout Wales during the festive season as an alternative to traditional Christmas fayre.

NFU Cymru President Stephen James said: “Food and drink play an important role in bringing people together during the festive season and Welsh farmers are proud to play their part by producing world-class produce for your Christmas dinner. This is a potentially prosperous period for the food and drink industry here in Wales, but it’s clear from the findings of our survey work this is an opportunity that isn’t being fully capitalised on. There’s a role for all of us in raising the profile of Welsh produce to shoppers in the lead up to the festive period and encouraging more people to prioritise Welsh food and drink when it comes to sourcing the ingredients for their festive meal.

“The Royal Welsh Winter Fair is home to some of the best food and drink producers that Wales has to offer, so the event provides the perfect opportunity for us to launch our ‘Proud to Produce Your Christmas’ campaign to help drive a rise in the number of people sourcing Welsh for their meals over the festive period.

“Our campaign highlights that consumers do not need to look further afield to construct their festive feast – all of the ingredients are available right on their doorstep in Wales. We are proud that so many consumers associate Welsh produce with quality, good value for money and high production standards. We hope that by underlining the link between producers in Wales and the food they produce, more people will prioritise Welsh this Christmas and support our hardworking Welsh farmers and growers in the process.

“The ‘Proud to Produce Your Christmas’ video underlines how easy it is to source the ingredients for a wholesome, delicious festive feast that’s grown and reared here in Wales. I hope this video inspires more people to have a Welsh Christmas in 2017.”

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Farming

Welsh farmers flock to sheep conference

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Welsh farmers: ​A large Welsh contingent attended the recent sheep industry summit in Nottingham

A ​LARGE contingent of Welsh farmers travelled to Nottingham last week to attend one of the most important events in the calendar of the UK sheep industry – the bi-annual Sheep Breeders’ Round Table.

Over 200 delegates in total heard from international experts in genetics, farming and marketing. Key speakers included Icelandic sheep industry consultants Eyjólfur Ingvi Bjarnason and Eyþór Einarsson, and Emma Eyþórsdóttir, Associate Professor at the Agricultural University of Iceland.

The long anticipated preliminary results of the RamCompare project were announced in the Friday session which sparked much discussion. Phase 2 of the project has commenced with further results to be announced in May.

Past Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Scholar Huw Williams of Talley in Carmarthenshire presented his work on the use of EID Tracking and DNA Shepherding for identifying parentage in flocks in Australia and New Zealand. Also, sheep geneticist Janet Roden outlined the ways that performance recording and genetic improvement could enhance the Welsh hill flock.

Sheep-breeder Aled Huw Roberts, from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in north Powys, won a scholarship from HCC to attend the Round Table event. He said​:​ “I immensely enjoyed all the presentations and specifically the discussion after each. The underlying messages were to improve on-farm efficiency through having a clear focus on the market and quality of the products we are selling.”

HCC Industry Development Officer Gwawr Parry added​:​ “The theme of this year’s conference was ‘thinking positively’, so it was great to see so many make the trip from Wales to contribute to constructive debates on how the industry can take on the challenges of the future.”

The Sheep Breeders Roundtable was organised by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), and supported by HCC, Quality Meat Scotland, the National Sheep Association and Scotland’s Rural College.

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