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Farming

Ian Rickman: 2021 is a critical year for Wales’ farming future

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THE INCREASINGLY negative narrative around livestock farming and its portrayed impact on the environment and climate change has led to farmers in Wales standing up to tell their stories and highlight the positive impact livestock farming has.


Through the Farmers’ Union of Wales’ campaign ‘Guardians of the Welsh Land’, farmers are addressing misleading claims by various groups about the role livestock farming plays in relation to climate change and the environment.  Launching the campaign, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “The FUW has consistently recognised the threat represented by climate change and the need to take action. This is clear from a cursory look at our manifestos and policy documents published over the past twenty years.


“We know that farming is already responsible for a critical carbon resource in soils, woodland and semi-natural habitats and I’m pleased to launch the FUW’s environment campaign – ‘Guardians of the Welsh Land’ from my home farm here in Carmarthenshire today. As farmers are the most trusted link in the supply chain, they are best placed to communicate their stories, helping to address consumer concerns and influencing political agendas. Members can also look forward to a variety of webinars over the coming months, which will focus on the different challenges ahead for the industry and how to overcome them.


“There is no question in our mind that we need to counteract the continuation by the anti-farming lobby of their campaign to vilify and belittle domestic food producers.  These attacks are corrosive and grossly misleading, negatively influencing consumer perception of the industry and influencing political agendas on a global scale.”
Mr Rickman added that 2021 is an important year for these types of conversations.
“Knocking on our door are the United Nations Food Systems Summit and COP26. The FUW has been engaging with these conversations at an international level and shares some concerns with other industries across the globe about the wider narrative and ambitions set out in inconspicuous looking documents. Plans, we and the general public don’t support.  Telling the positive story of the guardians of our Welsh land is now more important than ever,” he said.
Starting in the first week of June, the campaign introduces four farmers all of whom tell the story of how they are addressing environmental and climate change needs in their unique ways: Carmarthenshire organic sheep farmer Phil Jones, the Roberts family from Meirionnydd, Ceredigion dairy farmers Lyn and Lowri Thomas and FUW President Glyn Roberts who farms with his daughter Beca at Dylasau Uchaf in Snowdonia.

“The campaign will further highlight that Welsh farmers are rising to the challenge of improving soil health and increasing organic matter in soils, improvements which represent further opportunities for sequestering more carbon. These improvements, the campaign will highlight, are achieved through specific livestock grazing patterns and rest periods. The campaign is also clear that the correct options, guidance and rewards are required to encourage more farmers to adopt such systems,” said Mr Rickman.


Soil, the campaign will stress, is a long term investment and at present, around 410 million tonnes of carbon is stored in Welsh soils and 75,700 hectares of Wales’ woodland (25%) is on farmland, representing an important and growing carbon sink.

“As acknowledged in Natural Resources Wales’ State of Natural Resources Report, using land for food production is an essential part of natural resource use and management.  Whilst we acknowledge that  agricultural intensification has undeniably had negative impacts on some species and ecosystems, there is overwhelming evidence that other factors, including reductions in agricultural activity and afforestation, have also had severe negative impacts,” he added.

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Farming

Carmarthenshire producer celebrating Porc from Wales Week

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PORC from Wales Week (24 – 30 January) is an annual celebration of artisan producers and retailers that specialise in breeding and supplying high quality porc and porc products, from traditional Welsh sausages to Italian style charcuterie.

With a ‘How far is your fork from our porc’ theme this year, leading figures from Welsh food such as broadcasters Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn of Hang Fire Southern Kitchen fame, and a host of food bloggers from Wales, will be showcasing the very best of locally sourced porc and where consumers can buy it from.

Experts in their field

Wales is home to small-scale and artisan porc producers specialising in creating a unique, hand-reared product; a consequence of this is that it is often only available to buy directly from the producer or local independent shops, like butchers.

How food is produced and the impact it has on the environment have increasingly become important factors for consumers in recent years. For generations, Welsh farmers have played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining the rural landscapes that we know and love, both physically and culturally.

The industry is currently a growing one in Wales with an increasing number of producers starting a new business and research has shown that 2021 sales of pork products UK-wide (fresh and frozen, cuts and processed) were 15% higher than in 2019.

Sue and Stephen Dudley of Black Orchard Large Blacks, who are based in Meinciau, near Kidwelly, said: “Our delightful rare breed pigs are sustainable, local and very Welsh.  We believe that by eating our delicious rare breed porc, not only do you preserve this wonderful, Large Black breed, but because they only eat local soya-free food, you are helping to look after the environment as well.

“The welfare of our pigs is our main priority, and we believe that it really does make a difference to our customers. We feed our Large Blacks on a diet of wildflower meadow forage and local barley, and we don’t import feed or use soya. We think that this natural diet, coupled with the pigs growing slowly and living a free-range life, it really does contribute to the delicious taste of the meat.

“We are beginning to notice that due to the pandemic, consumers’ buying habits have shifted too, which has helped support our local producers, the local community, the local economy and the environment. It promises a bright future for our enterprise, our local community and our industry as a whole.”

When Hang Fire met Scott Quinnell

To celebrate Porc from Wales Week, Sam and Shauna will be showing rugby legend Scott Quinnell how to cook porc ‘tomahawks’ with West Indian salsa verde, sweet potato steaks and jerk porc bonbons. 

Sam Evans of the Hang Fire duo said: “We’re delighted to be part of this year’s Porc from Wales Week. We’re all about cooking fresh, local, quality ingredients, with excellent sustainability credentials, so really, porc ticks all our boxes!

“We’ve created this amazing dish of porc tomahawks with a West Indian salsa verde and Scott Quinnell is going to help us make the dish in an exclusive masterclass. We’ll show you (and Scott!) how easy it is to prepare and cook porc and introduce you to some exciting flavours.

“What makes porc so special is that it’s so easy to cook with. We love cooking porc on the BBQ, but we’re excited to show you (and Scott) how you get the best from this fantastic produce in your own kitchen. You can get some cracking results from porc, and people shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with flavours. And it’s not just about bangers on the barbie; porc is great for roasting, frying, stir-frying and slow cooking. So, why not pop to your local butcher’s shop or your local pork producer and ask your butcher for some delicious porc. You won’t be disappointed!”

You can find Hang Fire’s recipe and more information on Porc from Wales Week at www.porcweek.wales

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Carmarthen pork producer wins best sausage in Wales award

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RED VALLEY FARM in Carmarthen is celebrating coming first place in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’s ‘Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021’ competition, with their Wild Boar and Apple Sausages having been selected as the very best bangers in Wales.

Rearing their very own wild boar, Red Valley Farm is owned and run by friends and business partners Andy and Graeme and producing quality pork products has been their passion ever since they took over the farm from Andy’s parents a few years ago.

Andy said: “My parents kept a range of animals, but as they grew older they weren’t able to manage the farm anymore so it was down to me. We actually got into specialising in pig keeping by accident, as we were gifted one boar to help clear the ground following some tree planting. Everything on this farm today has literally grown from there, from our two breeding boars Minnie and Mouse and one other pig.”

Wales is home to many small scale, artisan pork producers specialising in creating a unique, hand-reared product. Their products are often only available to buy directly from the producer or in equally small scale local independent shops, like butchers, making it a more sustainable food product and generating fewer food miles.

On winning the competition, Graeme said: “We are genuinely really delighted to be recognised and have our sausages named as the best sausages in Wales! We came second in the Put Your Best Sausage Forward competition in 2019, so I am chuffed to have now made it to the top spot!

“We make a number of different flavoured sausages but overall our biggest selling, which happens to be an absolutely outrageous seller, is our boar and apple burgers and sausages. They have a really unique flavour – they’re certainly different to your everyday banger – and we find that people love to try something different while knowing they are also getting a top quality, traceable product.

“We feed our boars and pigs on the best produce available, including brewers’ grain from two local brewers, and this year we are becoming self-sufficient for the first time by producing our own hay for our pigs – they eat better than us sometimes!

“At the end of the day, this is our business, the pigs are our future, and that is what is securing us to Red Valley Farm and making sure that this place is still here for our kids, and hopefully even their kids.”

Red Valley Farm pipped Cwm Farm Charcuterie in the Swansea Valley, and Daniel Morris Butchers in Mold and Denbigh, to the post in this year’s Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021 competition, wowing judges Scott Quinnell (ex-rugby player and sausage enthusiast) and Elwen Roberts (Hybu Cig Cymru representative).

Scott Quinnell said: “We judged the sausages in their raw state and as cooked, but right from the off we were impressed with Graeme and Andy’s Wild Boar and Apple Sausages. They looked stunning, the consistency was spot on and they cooked up perfectly. When it got to the tasting, they did not disappoint. Packed with flavour – the depth of the boar really came through – and we both thoroughly enjoyed them. Well done boys, keep up the great work!”

Red Valley Farm now automatically qualifies for the UK and Ireland Champion of Champions Sausage competition, which will take place at the Butcher Shop of the Year 2021 Awards in April 2022.

Philippa Gill, Brand Marketing Executive at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, said: “We are so lucky in Wales with our fantastic Porc Blasus family of producers – the standard of sausages always makes picking an ultimate winner a difficult task for us! You can visit our brand new website at porcblasus.cymru to find your nearest porc producer, and meet lots of porc enthusiasts – from farmers to chefs – not to mention try out some of our 60 tasty porc recipes at home.”

Visit redvalleywales.co.uk to buy online with courier delivery, or for direction to their farm shop which is open on Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information on pork produced in Wales, and where you can buy it, please visit www.porcblasus.cymru.

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Farming

Johnson announces end to lamb export ban ‘soon’

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WELSH farming industry bodies have welcomed the prospect of Welsh Lamb exports to the US being lifted soon.
The Prime Minister claimed the ban would end after meeting with President Biden in Washington last week.
The potential market for PGI Welsh Lamb in the USA has been estimated to be worth as much as £20million a year within five years of the export restrictions being removed.

LIFTING THE BAN

The ban on British lamb to the USA has been in place since 1996 following an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The ban was extended in some countries to sheepmeat because a related sheep disease (scrapie) belongs to the same family of diseases.

HCC Chief Executive Gwyn Howells said, “Achieving market access for lamb to the USA has been a long road, and it looks as if we’re nearly at the end of the journey.

“The ban, brought in back in 1996, has not been necessary or justifiable for many years. But it’s taken a long effort and much technical work to overcome the various administrative hurdles.

“There is a promising market for high-quality Welsh Lamb in the USA, particularly in the hotel and restaurant trade on the east coast.

“Research has shown that the trade could be worth £20million a year for the sector if we can achieve access and work on developing the market.

“We look forward to hearing the details behind the announcement and are ready to grasp the opportunity should it arise.”

NEWS A BOOST FOR WELSH AGRICULTURE

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Samuel Kurtz MS said: “Farmers across Wales will welcome the news that the US has lifted the ban on the imports of British lamb.
“It’s now imperative that both the UK and Welsh Governments work in tandem to promote the benefits of Welsh lamb so that its market potential can be fulfilled.”

NFU Cymru has welcomed reports that positive progress is being made on lifting a long-standing ban
NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman Wyn Evans said: “After being shut out of the US market for over 30 years, today’s reports that Welsh sheep farmers may soon be able to access this potentially lucrative marketplace are welcome news for the sector.

“We certainly want to see this ban lifted so that trade can resume as soon as possible.

“Now this vital trade avenue appears to be a step closer to opening, it is crucial the UK Government and the authorities work alongside the whole supply chain so that we are in a position to supply product into the US as soon as the ban is lifted.

“We now wait with interest to hear more news from the US Secretary of State for Agriculture to confirm the reports that we have received following the Prime Minister’s comments.”

VITAL TO OPEN MORE EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES

The Farmers’ Union of Wales also welcomed the news.
The FUW has long discussed the prospect of lifting the unjustified ban with the USDA in various meetings over the past decade.

Speaking from his Carmarthenshire sheep farm, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “Now more than ever, we need to explore other export markets while also protecting our long-established markets in Europe.
“The US market is one we are keen to develop much stronger relationships with and the news that this ban could soon be lifted is most welcome news for our sheep industry.”
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker commented: “We are delighted about the announcement that the ban is to be lifted – the UK sheep industry has been waiting for this for many years.
“The sheep industry in the UK has clear potential to grow further, but any expansion must be market and demand-led.

“The UK is the third-largest exporter of sheepmeat globally, telling us that we are good at producing sheepmeat and that our supply chains are efficient and able to deliver.
“This creates another opportunity for our industry to maximise trade opportunities, and we have always seen the US as being a potentially significant market.

“After the domestic market, the EU is still our largest export market and is on our doorstep. However, access is more difficult than it was when we were part of the EU. It’s essential to maintain EU access but it is also important to work on any market that gives us future potential.”

Mr Stocker highlighted other benefits: “We shouldn’t expect to see any sudden surge in volumes going to the US, but we do know there is strong demand for UK sheep genetics – semen and embryos. Many British sheep breeds are in the US but are numerically too small to have a strong gene pool, so genetics demand is strong.
“In addition, with sheepmeat consumption being very low in the US we believe we can help stimulate interest in lamb and quality mutton through exporting high quality British sheepmeat that reinspires interest in the product and helps the US sheep industry to build further.”

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