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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.”

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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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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Farming

Unions welcome Griffiths’ Winter Fair speech

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Collaborative working can deliver great things: Glyn Roberts

ON THE OPENING day of the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, called on the agriculture industry to focus on turning the challenges of Brexit into opportunities.

In a keynote speech at the Hybu Cig Cymru breakfast, the Cabinet Secretary spoke about a number of important initiatives the Welsh Government has in place to provide valuable support to farmers, many of which are particularly relevant as the UK leaves the EU and farm businesses prepare for the major change that lies ahead.

A new land capability mapping system for Wales has been launched by the Cabinet Secretary at this year’s Winter Fair – the first major update since the original maps were produced in the early 1970’s. The Predictive Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) Map allows land users, planners and Government to make informed choices about how agricultural land is used in Wales.

The Cabinet Secretary also announced that over 91% of farmers’ Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2017 claims will be paid on Friday, December 1. Over £201m will be paid into the bank accounts of 14,111 Welsh farm businesses on the first day on which payments may be made under European rules.

Speaking ahead of the Winter Fair Lesley Griffiths said: “Brexit will bring significant and lasting change, of that there is absolutely no doubt. A ‘no deal’ scenario presents particularly acute risks for those sectors particularly reliant on exports to the EU, including lamb.

“Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and new, yet to be established, trading arrangements mean that maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.Turning challenges into opportunities is where the industry and individual farm businesses need to be focusing their attention.

“For our part, we are already heavily involved working alongside our key partners in seeking to address our agriculture sectors’ readiness for Brexit.

“Brexit will provide a once in a generation opportunity to redesign our policy framework in a way that is uniquely Welsh, that reflects Welsh needs and strengths.

“We all have a role to play shaping how the industry will look after Brexit and we need farmers to be bold, imaginative; open to new ideas and practices.

“With this new approach in mind, I’m pleased to today launch a new Predictive Agricultural Land Classification Map for Wales. It identifies the potential versatility of land to support a range of cropping choices and allows land users, planners and Government to make informed choices on how land is used.

“My priority is to ensure our agricultural industry is in the best possible position to deal with the change ahead. As a government we are committed to providing solutions which work for Wales and we will continue to work with the industry, our partners and others to make the most of every opportunity.”

On the record payment of Basic Payment Scheme claims, the Cabinet Secretary added: “I am delighted to announce that over 91% of farmers receiving their BPS payments on the first day. This is yet another example of the success of our uniquely Welsh approach and our exemplary record on payments. It is a tribute to the way Welsh farmers have embraced new technology, RPW Online and made the new system such a success.”

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths that over 91% of Basic Payments will be made on the first day of the payment window.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The Welsh Government has hit a high payment target and we are grateful to all the staff who have worked hard to ensure money can be released on the first day of the payment window. However, there are still 9% of farms who will not receive their payment and we hope that rapid progress can be made in processing these.

“Most of the money arriving in the farm account through the BPS will be going straight out to secondary and tertiary businesses. Hundreds of businesses are solely reliant on Welsh agriculture. Look at all the traders and businesses exhibiting at the Fair today. Any delay in the payment of the Basic Payment would have a direct impact on these businesses and their employees.

“We have been working closely with Welsh Government to achieve this result for our farmers here in Wales and are looking forward to continue in our close working relationship in the future. The co-operation between all industry stakeholders and Welsh Government illustrates that we can achieve great things for Welsh farming if we work collaboratively.”

Stephen James, NFU Cymru President said: “The announcement that over 91% of claims will be paid on the first day of the payment window, together with an improved exchange rate, up 4.98% on the 2016 rate, is good news and will be a boost not just to farm businesses but also to the thousands of rural businesses that rely heavily on farmers for much of their income.

“For every £1 invested in farm support in the UK, farming delivers around £7.40 back to the economy.”

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