THE WELSH GOVERNMENT’S flagship bovine TB data document – TB Dashboard – has revealed disappointing progress towards the eradication of bovine TB in Wales.
According to the data presented, the levels of bovine TB in Wales have remained fairly static overall, with variable results across the counties.
Indeed, whilst the TB Dashboard document reports a general fall in TB herd incidence since 2012, the number of cattle slaughtered in the 12 months leading to January 2017 was 22% higher than in the previous 12 months.
Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer, said: “Although the data from TB Dashboard shows improvement in some areas, the number of cattle slaughtered remains on the rise. According to Welsh bovine TB statistics, with the exception of 2008 and 2009, the number of cattle slaughtered in the 12 months to January 2017 was higher than in any other year since 1996.
“Recurrence rates have remained relatively flat in recent years, however almost 30 percent of the TB incidents closed in 2014 entailed a recurrence in the subsequent two years.
“Losing TB-free status is devastating to farming families and their businesses. The restrictions on a farm business can be incredibly destructive and it is extremely distressing for our members to have worked hard to gain TB-free status, only to lose it again in the subsequent years.
“A TB breakdown is not only financially crippling for the farm, but also impacts more widely as struggling farm businesses are less able to contribute to the both the local economy and further afield.”
According to Dashboard, over 80% of new TB incidents are in the areas classified as ‘High TB areas’, including Pembrokeshire in the West. In the last quarter of 2016, there were 71 new incidents in this region. Whilst this is a minor improvement from the year before, the longer term results are variable and suggest that cattle measures alone cannot work to eradicate TB.
The latest official report on the IAA, published after the cessation of the £3.7 million badger vaccination programme in North Pembrokeshire, concluded that ‘consistent trends in indicators of bovine TB incidence have not yet been seen’ over the 5 year period examined.
“The industry is well aware that the results after four years of badger vaccination in the IAA showed levels of bovine TB which are no different to other comparable areas where badger vaccination did not take place.
“The number of cattle herds registered in Wales has declined by 43 percent since 1996 and the industry has lost dairy producers at an alarming rate. Bovine TB is one of the most serious issues facing Welsh cattle farmers and a more holistic approach, which seriously tackles the wildlife reservoir, is required urgently,” added Dr Wright.
FUW celebrates World School Milk Day
THE FARMERS’ Union of Wales and pupils across Wales joined countries around the world to highlight the health benefits of school milk programmes and making dairy a part of a healthy diet.
FUW Milk and Dairy Committee Chairman Dai Miles said: “It’s very important that we as an industry go to schools to promote agriculture and educate the next generation about how their food is produced.
“Milk and dairy products have an important part to play in our daily diet as they provide an important source of protein and calcium and contain essential vitamins and minerals, all of which are needed for a balanced diet.
“Indeed, the exclusion of dairy products from the ‘sugar tax’ demonstrates the role such products play in a healthy diet.”
With an increasing amount of research into milk as a recovery and re-hydration aid, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting milk may be just as effective in these areas as some sports or other energy drinks.
“Milk can definitely help pupils stay hydrated and keep their energy levels up in class and it is a much healthier option than some of the sugary drinks available. I would like to thank our schools across Wales for their support today and hope that we can continue working with them on educating pupils about farming matters and where their food comes from,” added Dai Miles.
The Carmarthenshire team, including CEO Nerys Edwards, Admin Assistant Eurgan Llewellyn and FUW Presidential Policy team delegate for South Wales Ian Rickman, visited Ysgol Gynradd y Tymbl and Ysgol Gynradd Llangadog, where they introduced the children to a few facts about milk and dairy products. The children then enjoyed a milkshake and filled out a Welsh dairy word search.
The Ceredigion branch visited Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron where they went through 56 pints of milk in 20 minutes!
Pembrokeshire pupils at Ysgol Gymunedol Maenclochog, were joined by Dai Miles, the FUW’s Milk and Dairy Produce Committee Chairman, who spoke to the pupils in the morning assembly about how milk is produced.
Joining him were Branwen Miles, his daughter, who spoke about the nutritional benefits of milk and why it is an important part of your diet and Daisy, the Pembrokeshire FUW dairy cow.
The children enjoyed the FUW goody bags, which contained banana milkshakes, kindly donated by Daioni, cheese sticks, kindly donated by Calon Wen, Welsh language farming word puzzles, dot to dots, colouring sheets and stickers.
Children at Ysgol O M Edwards, Llanuwchllyn were joined by FUW Meirionnydd milk and dairy produce committee delegate Gwynfor Jarman, his wife Leusa Jarman and county chairman Geraint Davies.
They met each one of the years within the school and Gwynfor and Leusa gave a presentation on the health benefits of drinking milk. The children were also shown a short video, which included a visit to Gwynfor Jarman’s farm
Industry welcomes transitional plan
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.”
Lamb fans get expert help on how to cook long and slow
DEVOTEES of Welsh Lamb across the UK have been enjoying practical sessions on how to get the best out of slow-cooking with versatile meat, thanks to an innovative brand partnership between Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and AGA.
At nearly 30 of the famous range cooker’s stores and dealerships, from Nantwich to Norwich and from Tunbridge Wells to Inverness, expert chefs have been showing customers how to create fabulous family dishes like slow-roasted shoulders of PGI Welsh Lamb. HCC also provided a range of recipe leaflets, and Welsh Lamb has featured in the AGA customer magazine.
Alongside the tastings, customers across Britain had the chance to win AGA cooking accessories through a social media competition.
The promotion is part of HCC’s work in the UK domestic market, targeting demographics known to be keen to experiment with new ways of cooking lamb.
“Working with AGA has been a great opportunity for us to showcase PGI Welsh Lamb to target consumers right across Britain,” said HCC’s Marketing Manager Rhys Llywelyn. “Starting on the 1st of September during ‘Love Lamb Week’ and continuing throughout the month, the in-store demonstrations and tastings have gone down extremely well.
“People have posted videos of the recipes online, and the number of entries to the cooking accessory competition has exceeded all our expectations,” he added. “Welsh Lamb is at its peak availability at retailers across Britain in the summer and autumn, so this was a timely way of showcasing how to create fantastic dishes from under-rated cuts such as shoulders.”
AGA demonstrator and cookery writer Sarah Whitaker, who presented four days of cooking demonstrations at AGA stores in the south of England, commented: “The best flavour was from roasting in the deep tin on the first runners in the baking oven. The lamb shoulders were quite perfect and delicious, tender and juicy!”
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