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Farming

Chief vet: ‘bTB at 10 year low’

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BTB has ‘a wildlife reservoir of infection’: Christianne Glossop.

THE CHIEF Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, has said new incidents of bovine TB are at a 10 year low as she addressed some of the misconceptions about the disease picture in Wales.

Speaking at NFU Cymru’s Pembrokeshire Annual General Meeting on Thursday, January 26, the Chief Vet highlighted the progress made, with over 95% of Wales’ herds now TB free.

The Chief Vet also pointed to the increase in cattle slaughtered and stressed that although still a cause for concern, it did not reflect a worsening situation as is often reported.

Instead, the rise is due to an increase in the use of the more sensitive gamma interferon blood test and more severe interpretation of the skin test, both of which are flagging infected cattle in herds with a history of bovine TB at an earlier stage.

This increased sensitivity of testing helps to identify infection sooner and reduces the spread of the disease. The number of cattle slaughtered is expected to fall over time as a result of this approach, and as the number of infected herds continues to reduce.

The Chief Vet also highlighted the Cabinet Secretary’s position on controlling the disease in wildlife, saying an ‘England-style’ cull had been ruled out in Wales.

The Randomised Badger Culling Trial in England showed a net reduction of 16% of new incidents of bovine TB over nine years. In Wales, the number of new incidents recorded has reduced by 47% in eight years through application of increased testing frequency, improved biosecurity and other cattle control measures alone.

However, it is recognised that in a number of long term TB breakdowns, the disease picture points towards a wildlife reservoir of infection.

As a result the Cabinet Secretary has proposed a measured response to controlling the disease in wildlife in Wales. Focussing on these persistent TB breakdowns, where it can be objectively proven badgers are infected, it is proposed the infected groups of badgers are trapped and humanely killed.

The Chief Veterinary Officer reported that work has already started to develop bespoke action plans for each herd, including addressing any wildlife contribution to the problem.

Speaking at the conference, Christianne Glossop said: “We all recognise bovine TB has a significant financial and social impact on farm businesses and the wider rural economy. While it is encouraging to see the number of new herd incidents falling, even in our highest incidence areas, I recognise this is of little comfort to the farms currently suffering a TB breakdown. This is why we are focusing our efforts on eliminating the disease in affected herds.

“The public consultation on our proposed Refreshed Approach to TB eradication is now closed and we welcome the responses we have received. We are committed to eradicating the disease in Wales, but we cannot do this alone. It’s encouraging NFU Cymru has welcomed the plans for a regionalised approach, as this is aimed at protecting the low incidence area while bearing down on the disease elsewhere. This will help us to build on the progress made so far as we progress towards our ambition of a TB-free Wales.”

The refreshed programme is expected to be published in the spring.

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Farming

Access to EU Single Market and Customs Union critical for rural Wales

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Brian Thomas: ​​FUW Deputy President

N​EWS that Northern Ireland could be granted access to the European Single Market and Customs Union shows that it is possible to achieve what the Farmers’ Union of Wales has been calling for since the EU referendum.

Speaking from his farm in Pembrokeshire, ​​FUW Deputy President Brian Thomas said: “Different parts of the UK can’t be treated differently and we therefore call on the UK government to ensure that Wales, given its heavy reliance on red meat exports to the EU, is given the same treatment. Should this deal be offered and come to fruition we fully expect to have the same offered to us.

“In the farming community there is a real sense of worry, alarm and anger about the state of Brexit negotiations, and how the current state of play compares to what was promised by many before the referendum.

“And whilst we recognise that the Irish border situation presents some unique challenges that need to be overcome, rural Wales has challenges of its own, such the economic challenges we have long highlighted. We need to recognise the impact that failure to secure such access and reach agreement for Wales could have. Denying Wales access to the Single Market and Customs Union would have catastrophic consequences, as recently highlighted in scenarios from the FAPRI and Horizon reports.”

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Farming

Farmers from Wales and Oz join forces to showcase ‘lightning lamb’

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Jamie Heinrich and Richard Roderick: At the HCC lightning lamb cookoff

A ‘LIGHTNING LAMB’ cooking challenge featuring award-winning sheep farmers from both sides of the globe was one of the highlights of the recent Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Builth Wells.

Surveys show that families in Britain have only 32 minutes on average to prepare an evening meal nowadays, as opposed to an hour in 1980. Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is taking steps to emphasise lamb’s quick-cook credentials, so enlisted the help of Australian farmer Jamie Heinrich and Breconshire’s own Richard Roderick in a ‘cookoff’ to prove it!

Jamie Heinrich hails from Kangaroo Island near Adelaide in South Australia, and operates a 2000-acre holding farming Poll Merino and White Suffolk sheep. His visit to Wales is part of a Nuffield Australia scholarship to study how to encourage young entrants to the industry.

Richard Roderick lives at Newton Farm near Talybont-on-Usk in the Brecon Beacons. He is a past HCC Scholar, and has won several farming accolades including the Silver Lapwing Award in 2016 for his environmental management. Earlier this year he featured on the BBC series ‘Nadiya’s British Food Adventure’.

With the help of HCC cook Elwen Roberts, Jamie rustled up a rapid Welsh Lamb stir-fry with oriental flavours, while Richard’s creation was a pan-fried leg steak with red wine sauce. After tasting and judging by members of the audience, the two delicious dishes could not be separated, so the Wales vs Australia match ended in an honourable draw.

“When I came over to Wales I certainly didn’t anticipate getting involved in a cookoff to promote lamb!” said Nuffield Australia Scholar Jamie Heinrich. “Many of the challenges for the industry – recruiting younger farmers and making sure that lamb is appealing to young consumers who are pushed for time – are the same the world over. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of my trip to Wales and Europe.”

HCC’s Elwen Roberts commented: “It was great fun to challenge two farmers to come up with a quick and tasty lamb recipe. They both did extremely well, and the Winter Fair audience loved seeing and tasting the food.”

“It’s important to emphasise that lamb can be an excellent choice for a quick evening meal,” she added. “HCC has recently launched a mobile-phone-friendly recipe selector on the eatwelshlamb.com website, to help give consumers inspiration for lamb dishes while on the move.”

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Farming

Food Centre Wales at the Farm Business Innovation show

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Arwyn Davies, Business Development Manager: With Angela Sawyer, Senior Food Technologist, Food Centre Wales

THE FOOD CENTREA WALES team were at the Farm Business Innovation show 2017 offering advice and support to businesses in the food and drinks industry.

The event held on November​ 8-9​ in Birmingham highlighted the continued interest in adding value to farm produce, particularly in Wales.

Arwyn Davies, Business Development Manager at Food Centre Wales, said​:​ “As this was the first time we had exhibited at the Farm Business Innovation show. We went in with an open mind, but we are pleased to report that it was a very successful two days. We spoke to many farm owners during the two days, many of whom were from Wales.”

Arwyn Davies’ talk on ‘Farm Diversification into Food Processing – Exploring Opportunities & Avoiding Pitfalls’ was very popular with every seat taken.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic and Community Development said​:​ “The Team at Food Centre Wales were interested to hear all the ideas and plans people had for diversifying their farm businesses. The Centre’s food technologists were on hand to offer advice on how farmers could add value to their food produce and what could be done do to help them along the process. If you didn’t get a change to call in at the stand, the Team are more than happy to help at the Centre.”

Food Centre Wales will be following up with inquiries received at the show, with the aim to help many develop their food products and reach new markets.

If you would like to know more about how Food Centre Wales can help you, get in touch by phone 01559 362230 or email gen@foodcentrewales.org.uk.

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