NFU CYMRU has strongly opposed proposed changes to Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) Ammonia Screening Guidance, citing the proposals will have far-reaching and damaging consequences for farm businesses.NRW’s Ammonia Screening Guidance provides guidance to farmers on how the regulator expects assessments of the impact of ammonia emissions from developments that emit ammonia to be carried out for permit and planning applications. DEFRA is also consulting on reducing ammonia emissions from farms. It says its statutory obligations to restore degraded habitats and to reduce ammonia emissions by 8% by 2020 and by 16% by 2030 means DEFRA must act urgently to tackle the issue. Ammonia emissions are predominantly from agriculture (87%) and around 8% are from the use of solid urea fertilisers. The DEFRA consultation set out three policy options to provide the greatest ammonia emission reductions from regulating the use or sale of solid urea fertilisers. DEFRA is considering an outright ban on those fertilisers’ use. In the NRW consultation, that closed earlier this week, NRW proposes sweeping new changes including the application of the guidance to all developments emitting ammonia – previously the guidance has been applied to intensive farming operations, as well as the requirement to prove ‘no harm’ to ammonia sensitive species outside designated sites such as SSSIs. NFU Cymru is clear the proposed changes to the guidance – if implemented – would result in many more developments being brought into the screening process with requirements to undertake detailed and costly assessments of the potential impact of ammonia and nitrogen, and with developments blocked where stringent tests of ‘no harm’ cannot be met. The union has also warned that the proposals are likely to have detrimental consequences on farmers wishing to develop, diversify, improve their environmental performance and achieve compliance with the regulation in Wales moving forward.Commenting on the proposals, NFU Cymru Deputy President Aled Jones said: “NFU Cymru recognises the role of farming and is committed to working with government and partners to reach sustainable ammonia emissions in line with targets. However, NRW’s proposed approach is likely to put constraints and limitations on farm development, threatening future viability at what is a critical time for the industry.“We have expressed concern to NRW over their failure to consider the wider economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of proposals on rural Wales. We are disappointed that NRW has failed to publish the costs and benefits of its proposed approach. This is despite the fact that the Regulators’ Code clearly states before changing policies, practices or service standards, regulators should consider the impact on business.“Perversely the proposals, as they stand, will work directly against NRW’s own objectives of improving the environment. In effect, the proposed new Ammonia Screening Guidance is likely to place further barriers to new farm infrastructure projects on Welsh farms including for replacement livestock housing and slurry/manure storage – even where this is required to achieve compliance with regulation and where such infrastructure delivers clear environmental benefits in terms of air and water quality. This is unacceptable and we have urged NRW to look again at its proposals.“NFU Cymru is also disappointed that the consultation focuses exclusively on livestock production and does nothing to address ammonia sources from other non-agricultural sectors.”Concluding, Mr Jones said: “NFU Cymru is clear that policies to improve air quality should enable our ambitions for the future of Welsh farming. Policies should facilitate, and not hinder, the development of farm businesses in Wales to enable them to continue to deliver their key role producing food for our nation so that we do not see food production off-shored to other parts of the world where production standards are less sustainable.”
Plan for ‘collaborative approach’ to tackling rural crime issues
THIS week (Mar 9) Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a strategic meeting with key stakeholders to identify collaborative opportunities to tackle rural and wildlife crime in the Dyfed-Powys area.
Following a meeting with the Farming Unions in Wales earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn is keen to establish a Strategic Partnership Working Group with key stakeholders that will aim to identify ways of working collaboratively to tackle some of the rural and wildlife crime issues in Dyfed-Powys.
Dyfed-Powys Police have recently appointed a Sergeant for the Rural Crime Team, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been keen to consult with key stakeholders to gain an input from partners to support the development of a new Rural Crime Strategy for the Force.
Key Stakeholders that were invited to be part of the strategic group include both NFU Cymru and FUW unions, as well as local authorities, National Parks, RSPCA and many others.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I had positive discussions with representatives from both unions earlier this year to highlight some of the rural crime issues in the Dyfed-Powys area.
“One of the priorities identified was the need to take a collaborative approach to tackling rural and wildlife Crime, and the meeting with several key partners today was an opportunity to develop discussions and ideas further”.
Earlier in March, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn published a Rural Crime bulletin, which highlights some of the work that has taken place recently in the Dyfed-Powys area, and cross border collaborative initiatives.
PCC Dafydd Llywelyn noted that this multi agency partnership will aim to build on some of the great work that is already happening, and said; “This meeting today comes a year on from the successful St. David’s Day Conference focusing on Rural Crime that I held at Police Headquarters last year. The last 12 months have been like no other but sadly crime and incidents affecting the rural community have continued.
“Today’s multiagency Strategic meeting was an opportunity to present the new Sergeant for the specialist team, and to discuss a new website that we are developing in partnership with North Wales Police to provide key crime prevention messages to the agricultural industry – the Future Farms Cymru initiative.
“I’m grateful to all partners who attended the meeting today, and I now look forward to take all comments on board as we look to re-energise and refocus the work of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team.”
NFU Cymru ‘responds robustly’ to WG
NFU CYMRU has said that many proposals within the Welsh Government and Defra’s Welfare in Transport consultation will cause significant disruption to livestock transportation in the UK.
In a robust response to the joint Welsh Government / Defra consultation, the union has stressed the significant impact the proposals would have on the livestock and poultry sectors, and raised concerns that if the proposals are implemented, they will fail to deliver any meaningful benefit to animals’ welfare.
Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said: “In order to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the main priorities should be the animal’s fitness to travel, loading and unloading, driver training and experience, rather than the length of the journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.
“We firmly believe that the current regulations for domestic transport already deliver high welfare, as a result of the standards, cleanliness and adaptability to different weather conditions of transport boxes in the UK. But as an industry, we want to strive for even better. We believe that in order to do that there should be more focus on certified training and providing clearer, sector-specific guidance, particularly during loading and unloading rather than what is proposed in the consultation. Good welfare and healthy livestock go hand in hand; safe arrival at a destination, be that at market or abattoir, must be and is a priority.
“The transporting of livestock is an integral part of UK food production. The suggested changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes, while changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs. It will also lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which work against both farming’s and the government’s net-zero targets.
“Turning to the part of the consultation on live exports, we have inputted our views into a proposed NFU assurance scheme, which is detailed in an appendix in the response. This would be extremely effective in delivering welfare outcomes at the same time as maintaining this trade, as assessing the animals’ health and reporting back to producers is a fundamental part of the scheme.”
Richard Williams, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Poultry Group said: “Looking at the month of January for example, over the last three years on average there were 10 days where temperatures were five degrees or less. If the proposals were implemented to stop transport at this temperature, no broilers could be collected off-farm in those days. If we had a prolonged cold snap; this would have a massive effect on the food chain.
“With any policy developments government makes, it is essential they are based on the latest evidence. We have an industry to be proud of, with world-leading standards, and that includes our current transportation requirements for all farmed livestock.”
Export push for Welsh Lamb
PGI Welsh Lamb will feature in export marketing events in Dubai and Qatar over the coming months, despite Coronavirus restrictions, with the industry aiming to continue a major growth in exports to the Middle East region.
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) will have a presence at the upcoming Gulfood 2021 trade show during February 21-25 with support from the Welsh Government via the Enhanced Export Fund. The event, which takes place in Dubai, is the first global trade show to take place in nearly a year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In-market representatives will promote PGI Welsh Lamb to buyers at the Covid-secure event.
The Middle East is an important and growing export market; newly published export data shows that the volume of UK sheepmeat exports increased by 18.3% on levels seen in 2019 and a hefty 368% compared to 2018. HCC helped to secure four new retailers as stockists of PGI Welsh Lamb in Qatar over the last year along with a high-end online retailer in the United Arab Emirates.
HCC’s Export Development Executive, Deanna Jones, explained ‘Welsh Lamb exports have grown rapidly in the Middle East over the last few years and the market now sells Welsh Lamb through wholesale, retail and foodservice.’
‘Whilst we will not be attending any events in person, it is important that Welsh Lamb has a presence at Gulfood 2021 and other trade events as we continue to build the customer base and profile of our products.’
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “I am very pleased we have been able to support Hybu Cig Cymru as they continue to promote Welsh produce internationally – particularly given the increasing export value of the Middle East to Welsh Lamb producers.
“While restrictions mean delegates will not be able to attend in person, it is vital that Wales continues to have a presence at trade events such as Gulfood 2021, and I am very pleased Wales will be at the table in Dubai.”
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