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Farming

Bird flu restrictions end

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Restrictions end: Keepers urged to maintain vigilance

THE CABINET Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has announced the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which expired on April 30, will not be replaced.

The Cabinet Secretary has taken this decision based on an updated veterinary risk assessment conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). However, the temporary suspension on gatherings of some species of birds will remain as additional evidence is considered.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “Last December I declared the whole of Wales an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in response to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 outbreaks being reported across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. This was a precautionary measure to minimise the risk of poultry and other captive birds being infected by wild birds.

“We have been closely monitoring this situation and APHA has been preparing updated outbreak risk assessments.

The most recent evidence-based veterinary risk assessment concluded there remains a Low – Medium risk of resident wild waterfowl being infected with H5N8. Meanwhile, the exposure assessment risk for poultry farms is Low, but heightened, and will depend on the biosecurity measures on each farm. This level is consistent with November 2016, when disease was present across Europe in sporadic outbreaks and occasional wild bird findings were being reported.

“Therefore, I am pleased to announce, following the expiry of the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 30 April, this will not be replaced. Whilst I am sure this is welcome news it is important to remember avian influenza remains a constant and real threat to our poultry and other captive birds.”

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, added: “I would like to stress the need for all keepers of poultry and other domestic captive birds to remain alert for signs of the disease and to contact their private veterinarians if they have any concerns. If anyone suspects disease they should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.

“It is essential all keepers maintain effective biosecurity practices, such as considering and updating self-assessment forms, cleansing and disinfecting all clothing, equipment and vehicles (using approved disinfectants) and implementing effective pest control measures to minimise the opportunities of contact between their birds and wild birds and wild life.

“We can all play a part in supporting the ongoing surveillance by reporting any findings of dead wild birds to the GB helpline on 03459 335577. In particular, any wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey and where more than five birds of any species are found dead in the same location. We must also ensure we all comply and respect the biosecurity measures put in place by poultry or other captive bird keepers.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all poultry keepers with 50 birds or more they must register their flocks on the Poultry Register and strongly encourage all poultry keepers, including those with fewer than 50 birds, to register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in an avian disease outbreak enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.

“If poultry or other captive birds are being let outside after a prolonged period of being housed I would recommend keepers consult their private veterinarian on the health impacts.”

Meanwhile the UK Government’s last remaining bird flu control measures in England – including the ban on poultry gatherings – will be lifted on Monday, May 15, Defra’s Chief Vet announced on Friday (April 28).

With the lifting of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), bird keepers will no longer be required by law to follow specific disease prevention measures, intended to reduce the risk of highlight pathogenic H5N8 bird flu passing from wild birds to domestic flocks. However, Defra officials said keepers should continue to follow industry standard best practice on biosecurity, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors.

A ban on gatherings featuring at-risk bird species, including waterfowl and poultry has been in place since December, when migrating wild birds brought a spate of H5N8 cases to Western Europe. The outbreaks had a devastating effect on the poultry industry in South West France, where birds in three departments had to be culled to prevent further spread of the disease after it was transferred from farm-to-farm. The ban will be lifted in England on May 15, meaning bird gatherings can then resume, subject to some additional identity and health checks and biosecurity measures.

According to the latest risk assessment from Defra’s advisors, the overall risk of another H5N8 outbreak in the UK has fallen from ’medium’ to ‘low’, comparable with risk levels in November 2016, and should continue to fall in warmer, drier spring weather conditions.

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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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