THE FARMERS’ UNION OF WALES celebrated its 60th anniversary on Tuesday, December 8 with a trip down memory lane. Sharing memories and comparing notes on the state of the industry were Roy and Nerys Edwards and their four sons, of Groesasgwrn, Llangynderyn, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire and Mr T Llew Jones MBE, a founder member of the union in 1955. The couple joined the FUW in May 2015 – making them the newest and one of the ‘youngest’ FUW members in the founder county.
Roy was the winner of Fferm Factor for the year 2014 and Nerys’ time is split between being actively involved in the running of the home farm, helping her husband and keeping a successful occasion cake business ‘Cacennau Moethus’. The informal visit gave the couple and FUW president Glyn Roberts, who also attended the visit, the chance to explore the different views of those who were actively involved in the setup of the FUW 60 years ago and those who have just joined the organisation.
“Farming has changed dramatically over the last 60 years and it was interesting to hear about the challenges the farming community faced in 1955 and how these compare to the struggles but also opportunities the current generation of farmers deal with,” said FUW president Glyn Roberts. Many stories were shared over cups of tea and wonderful homemade cake and Glyn Roberts particularly enjoyed looking through old photographs with Llew Jones. He said,” It was inspiring to hear the stories of how the FUW was founded back in 1955 – and how determined our Welsh ancestors were to fight for Welsh farming and the small family farm.” The evening celebration at the Halliwell Centre in Carmarthen was well attended by FUW staff old and new and many members.
Guest speaker the Rt Hon. the Lord Morris of Aberavon KG QC, who was actively involved with the formation of the FUW as the union’s legal adviser and deputy general secretary between 1956 and 1958, talked about how the FUW was formed and reminded guests that the union was born out of the frustration felt by Welsh farmers, when their needs and voices were not being heard by the Westminster Parliament. It was down to their dream of having a Welsh farming union he said and the tenacity of these Welsh entrepreneurs that the FUW has been given the official right by the Government to represent and speak on behalf of Welsh farmers and the union has done so at the highest level – at the National Assembly, Whitehall and Brussels ever since. Speaking at the dinner, union president Glyn Roberts added that, “We are here today because of the vision of the founder members who have worked so hard. “It is an overwhelming honour to stand in front of you as president of this union, but that honour also has great responsibilities and a duty, not only to those that have fought so hard in the past, but also to those that will take over from us in future.”
The president further added that Shakespeare once said that Owain Glyndwr was not like most men, he had a vision. We can proudly say the same about the pioneers of the FUW. Their vision was to have an independent voice for Welsh agriculture; an union that spoke for them, and which had the interest of Welsh farmers at its core. “I have no doubt in my mind that all of us will do everything we can to honour those founding members and ensure that their vision of a strong voice for the industry remains at the core of the FUW’s principles.” Carmarthen county executive officer David Waters, who was heavily involved in organising the evening function, said “I would like to thank all the staff for helping to organise such an enjoyable and successful dinner. “We also held a raffle to raise money for the British Heart Foundation Cymru and I am very pleased to say that we have raised £1,600 for the cause.”
Farming faces zero carbon challenge
AN AMBITIOUS new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 will lead to significant changes in farming practices over the coming decades, according to a leading agri-environment specialist.
Professor Iain Donnison, Head of the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, was responding to the publication of ‘Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming’ published by the UK Government Committee on Climate Change.
Professor Donnison is an expert on agriculture and land use, which feature in the report in terms of targets for one-fifth of agricultural land to be used for forestry, bioenergy crops and peatland restoration.
According to Professor Donnison, such a reduction is very ambitious but achievable in Wales and the wider UK. “Land use can positively contribute towards achieving the net zero targets, but there are challenges in relation to emissions from agriculture especially associated with red meat and dairy,” said Professor Donnison.
“In IBERS we are already working on how to make livestock agriculture less carbon intensive and developing new diversification options for the farming of carbon. For example, net zero targets could provide significant diversification opportunities for both farmers and industries that make use of biomass and wood for the production of energy, materials including in construction and for wider environmental benefits.”
Professor Donnison added: “The report gives a clear message regarding the importance of the task and the role that the UK can play to compensate for past emissions and to help play a leadership role in creating a greener future.
“The report says it seeks to be based on current technologies that can be deployed and achievable targets. One-fifth of agricultural land is a very ambitious target but I believe that through the approaches proposed it is achievable (e.g. for bioenergy crops it fits in with published targets for the UK). This is based on the knowledge and technologies we have now regarding how to do this, and because right now in the UK we are developing a new agricultural policy that looks beyond the common agriculture policy (CAP). For example, the 25-year Environment plan published by Defra envisages payment for public goods which could provide a policy mechanism to help ensure that the appropriate approaches are implemented in the appropriate places.
“The scale of the change, however, should not be underestimated, although agriculture is a sector that has previously successfully responded to challenges such as for increased food production. The additional challenge will be to ensure that we deliver all the benefits we wish to see from land: food, carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) management and wider environmental benefits, whilst managing the challenge of the impacts of climate change.
“The link is made between healthy diets with less red meat consumption and future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. This reflects that agriculture will likely go through significant change over the coming decades as a result of changes in consumer diets.
“Net Zero targets, however, could provide significant diversification opportunities for both farmers and industries that make use of biomass and wood for the production of energy, materials including in construction and for wider environmental benefits.”
HSE fees up 20%
A FEE imposed on farm businesses found to be in breach of health and safety legislation has gone up nearly 20% to £154/hr.
Since October 2012 the Health and Safety Executive has operated a cost recovery regime, which means that businesses are charged for the costs of an investigation from the point a material breach has been identified through to the point when a decision is made on enforcement action.
If you are found to be in material breach of health and safety law, you will have to pay for the time it takes the HSE to identify the breach and help you put things right. This includes investigating and taking enforcement action. This charging scheme is known as a Fee for Intervention (FFI).
Robert Gazely, farm consultant and health and safety specialist for Strutt & Parker said: “A material breach is something which an inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken. Once an inspector gives a farmer this written notification of contravention (NoC), the farmer will be expected to pay a fee.
“From 6 April 2019, the hourly charge has been increased from £129 to £154. The final bill will be based on the total amount of time it takes the HSE inspector to identify the breach and their work to help put things right.
“Of course, the primary reason for farms to be proactive in their approach to health and safety should be to protect themselves, their families and any employees.
“The number of people who are killed and injured each year on farms remains stubbornly high and the human cost of these incidents can be incalculable to those affected.
“But taking a safety-first approach should also help farm businesses to avoid a financial hit, as the HSE fees can mount up in the event of an investigation.”
Red meat gives ‘Taste of Wales’
WELSH Lamb and Welsh Beef were among the finest of Welsh foods at Wales’ largest and most prestigious food and drink trade event, Taste Wales last month.
The remarkable display of products, all under one roof, brought together a large contingent of UK and overseas buyers, including importers with a specific interest in Welsh red meat. These included a major foodservice and retail importer and distributor from Scandinavia that imports 6,000 million tonnes of meat annually from all over the world. The company is recognised for bringing tasty food experiences to Nordic dining tables.
They were invited to the event by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) who also arranged site visits to some of Wales’ major red meat processing plants. The main aim was to impress the importers with the industry’s high ethical and environmental standards.
The visit, led by HCC’s market representatives in Scandinavia, was a platform for many productive and promising discussions.
One representative, Anette Stenebrandt said at Taste Wales: “We have a company from Sweden and Finland with us, trying to do some new business in the Nordic-speaking countries. This is really a fantastic fair and we have enjoyed it a lot.”
Her colleague Jakob True added: “This is our first time here at this amazing event, it’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of Welsh producers, particularly Welsh Lamb which is world-class, we know. We’ll go back to Scandinavia with a lot of good new leads and hopefully bring a lot of business to Wales.”
HCC’s Market Development Manager, Rhys Llywelyn said: “Many of the buyers we met at Taste Wales, including the Scandinavians, showed a significant interest in Welsh Lamb and were impressed by the whole package – from the story of producing Welsh Lamb to the processing techniques, the taste and texture.
“Others also expressed a keen interest in forging deals with the industry, including a Japanese department store, a major buyer from Hong Kong and a representative from Qatar. This bodes well for the future, especially as Brexit uncertainty is set to continue in light of the extension on Article 50.”
In recent months, HCC has undertaken a strategic GB marketing drive to encourage growth and recognition of our quality produce on British soil.
HCC’s UK Market Development Executive, Emily Davies said: “Our presence at Taste Wales also included concentrating our efforts on promoting Welsh Lamb in the domestic market. We met a number of foodservice companies, retailers and executive chefs and discussed Welsh red meat opportunities with meal-kit companies and online retailers. We also launched a new tool-kit for retailers which highlights the ways in which we can work with them to promote Welsh Lamb and Beef.”
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