FOLLOWING a specially convened meeting of NFU Cymru’s governing body, the Union has concluded that, on the basis of the current available evidence, the interests of Welsh agriculture are best served by the UK remaining within the European Union.
This policy decision was taken by NFU Cymru Council at a meeting held in conjunction with the Union’s commodity boards and Next Generation Policy Group.
However, NFU Cymru respects that voting on an issue as important as the EU Referendum is an emotive and deeply personal matter and it is therefore for each member to vote how they see fit.
NFU Cymru recognises that the referendum question is both hugely complex and highly contentious with many factors adding to the debate, which may ultimately sway an individual to vote one way or the other.
NFU Cymru President, Stephen James said: “NFU Cymru has spent the past few months helping to inform our members of the issues at stake in the referendum. Our EU report, which was launched last autumn, examines our current relationship with the EU and has proved extremely popular.
“It has helped stimulate debate within the Union and has given members some of the key information to help them make an informed decision. Over the course of the last few weeks we have held a series of meetings in every county of Wales.
“At these meetings we have provided information to our members and given them an opportunity to air their views. Through this comprehensive process we have been able to engage with a significant proportion of our membership and we have heard forthright views, covering both sides of the debate.
“The culmination of this process of engagement was a special meeting of our NFU Cymru Council that included our commodity boards and the Next Generation Policy Group, which was convened today to agree our position ahead of the referendum. ”
Our position, and all the discussions leading up to it were all based purely on Welsh agriculture and what the Union believes is at present the best option for Welsh farming. We have purposely stuck to agriculture and steered clear of many of the other elements of the debate that we do not believe directly impact on Welsh farmers.”
Stephen James continued: “We very much recognise that the EU is far from perfect, the new CAP which has added much complexity and bureaucracy and individual movement recording of sheep, are just two areas that frustrate us about the EU and this needs to change. However, in our opinion, over-regulation is a fault of Government at all levels and this is something that must be tackled in Cardiff Bay, Westminster and Brussels going forward.
“The EU must continue to evolve to ensure it remains relevant; NFU Cymru through our dedicated team in Brussels and our Government has a role to play to make this happen.
“There is a lack of any clarity or certainty of what Brexit would mean for Welsh agriculture, for example we have no international trade agreements in place, no commitment from our Government to future financial support and no agreement that regulations would be scrapped or reduced if we were to leave the EU.
“Our future depends on our ability to trade and to have ready access to the widest possible range of markets, our present situation highlights the importance of having the necessary support mechanisms to deal with periods of extreme volatility.
“It is for these two key reasons that following extensive discussion and consultation, NFU Cymru Council reached the conclusion that Welsh agriculture is best served by remaining within the EU.”
Plaid Cymru shadow minister for rural affairs, Llyr Gruffydd AM, said: “NFU Cymru, like the FUW, has decided that Welsh agriculture is better off by us remaining as members of the European Union.
“Wales will benefit by around £2 billion between 2014 and 2020 through the Common Agricultural Policy payments that support more than 80% of farms.
“In that context, leaving the European Union would be disastrous for the farming industry in Wales – but that’s the position taken by the Welsh Conservative leader.”
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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