News from AgriWales - A blog about everything and anything that's happening
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the Welsh Government’s decision to delay the introduction of radical changes to agricultural and rural support, describing the decision as the right move in light of huge uncertainty and instability around Brexit.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce the change later today as he reveals the Welsh Government’s legislative programme for the coming year.
It had originally been intended that significant changes to current policies be phased in from 2021.
Reacting to the announcement, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We have argued since the 2016 Brexit referendum that new policies should be carefully crafted in light of clear knowledge of the likely trading environment our farmers will face after Brexit.
“Given that major reforms are being debated in the EU, we have also said we need to be informed by those changes which will affect our main competitors and markets on the continent.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales is calling for much greater emphasis to be given to the economic impacts of a bovine TB breakdown following the announcement by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, that there would be a review of the compensation regime in Wales.
“To date, discussions and programmes on controlling the disease in Wales have almost entirely centred on animal health issues,” said Farmers’ Union of Wales senior policy officer Dr Hazel Wright. “We believe that a much greater emphasis should be paid to the economic issues surrounding bovine TB.”
Now the FUW has written to the Minister proposing the establishment of a Wales Bovine TB Economics Task and Finish Group, at arm's length from animal health, to provide robust, Welsh specific, information on the financial impact of a TB breakdown and the subsequent mental health impacts on farmers.
“Under the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the Welsh Government is obligated to take account of the long-term impact of their decision making.
After a scorching Easter weekend when some members of the general public showed they had little understanding of the countryside by sparking wildfires with their disposable barbecues, our public officials showed they were equally oblivious to rural protocols by banning the shooting of pigeons and crows, to name just a couple.
Recent reports highlighting the large quantities of water needed to produce meat and dairy products are well wide of the mark in Wales, where it’s mainly rain water which irrigates the lush pastures.
Such reports are based on global figures which group together the extensively reared cattle and sheep of Wales with the intensive farms of the US.
“Here the majority of stock benefit from Green water, the world wide definition of the rainfall that is used at the place where it falls,” said Charlotte Priddy, FUW Policy Officer.
The UK Government’s push to increase mobile phone coverage across Wales has hidden, and potentially expensive, side effects for farmers. The revised Electronic Communication Code means that Telecom operators have been able to cut rents paid to those with masts on their land.
Now the Farmers’ Union of Wales is calling for prompt action to redress cash shortfalls which in some cases run into thousands of pounds. “It seems grossly unfair that the big Telecom giants, who already make vast profits, should be selling landowners short,” said Tudur Parry, FUW Land Use Committee chairman.
Under the Digital Economy Act 2017, the ECC (para 2) 23 states that the market value of land used for telecoms equipment should not relate to the use of that equipment, effectively reducing any payment as if it were an ordinary agricultural rent rather than high-tech telecoms rates (plus compensation, including contribution towards professional fees, if justified).
The very dry summer of 2018 followed by winter conditions that have kept liver fluke levels low mean there have been very few reports of losses from acute fluke disease, and incidents of disease due to chronic fluke infections are also much lower than in previous years.
The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) and Control Of Cattle Parasites Sustainably (COWS) groups say this means testing for adult fluke this spring could pay dividends later in the year.
Both NFU Cymru and the FUW are becoming increasingly anxious as the UK Government's withdrawal agreement is defeated for a third time.
Welsh farm leaders have called for a long extension to Article 50 – or for the UK Government to re-set the Brexit clock.
It follows Parliament’s latest rejection of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, this time by 58 votes.
The FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee has described Welsh Government plans to introduce a pan-Wales ‘NVZ’ type regulations as disastrous for the sector, especially in light of Brexit uncertainty.
Speaking after the meeting on Thursday (March 14 ), FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee chairman Dai Miles said: “We have considered the plans in detail, and delegates are outraged that the Welsh Government want to introduce such reems of restrictions, rules and paperwork.
“These plans will affect farms, especially the smaller family farms, who carry out good practise and will incur extra cost through no fault of their own. It is painting the whole industry with the same brush when actually there is only a small minority at fault.”
Mr Miles said that as farmers were becoming increasingly aware of the plans, anger was rising within the industry that such a draconian approach was even being considered, especially at a time when all the figures suggest Wales’ agriculture industry could be the worst affected by Brexit.
Following months of discussion NSA is pleased to finally receive the release of the Governments no deal tariff rates. NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “NSA is extremely pleased to see the Government recognising the importance and sensitivity of our sheep farming industry, and we welcome the release of the schedule which provides us with some security. Our understanding is that it would mean any new country importing sheepmeat into the UK, or any volumes exceeding existing quotas with preferred nation agreements would have to do so at the stated tariffs – effectively WTO tariff rates.”
However, NSA remains concerned that a no deal will still result in far higher volumes of lamb onto our domestic market than we have historically catered for and that this schedule does not apply to existing quota volumes with countries such as New Zealand and Australia, the biggest importers of lamb into the UK.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has called for further UK Government assurances that vulnerable sectors in Wales, such as the sheep industry, will be protected in a no-deal Brexit scenario. The call comes following reports that government intends to cut 80-90% of all tariffs imposed on goods imported into Britain.
Speaking from his farm in North Wales, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Over the last couple of weeks we have met with Government officials and former Minister for Farming George Eustice, and have stressed that the livestock, and in particular the sheep industry, is the among the most vulnerable under almost all the Brexit scenarios possible.
“Given the dominance of the livestock sector in Wales and that we have 30% of the UK sheep population, our nation is particularly exposed to the dangers, so UK Government needs to ensure tariffs and Tariff Rate Quotas are set at levels which protect our industry.”
Mr Roberts said he had been encouraged by a number of commitments to protect UK agriculture given in recent weeks by Secretary of State Michael Gove and George Eustice.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) is highly frustrated that planned change to carcase splitting rules for lambs born in 2018 onwards are likely to be abandoned.
At a meeting for industry bodies hosted by Defra yesterday (Monday 4th March) it was announced that Defra Ministers and the Chief Veterinary Officer are concerned about the effect of introducing this change on the possible need for the UK to regain an EU third country listing in the event of a no deal or a delay to Brexit negotiations. Prior to yesterday, the sheep industry had been given assurance by Defra that the change had been signed off at a UK and EU level and would be implemented as soon as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was ready. This was further strengthened last autumn by a ruling from the EU that clearly allowed member states to choose their own system of ageing sheep for TSE controls.
Given the uncertainty that has been evident over the last two months, NSA is keen to inform the sheep sector and red meat industry of recent developments. This is a subject NSA, working collaboratively with other farming and processor bodies, has been working intensively on since 2015.
AIA gives 100% tax relief on the cost of new plant and machinery in the year of purchase. The Allowance has been £200,000 up until this year and the temporary increase means there has never been a better time to review ageing and unreliable kit and consider purchasing new. Even if items are purchased on finance, the full cost is eligible for AIA, with the added bonus that interest charges are also tax deductible.
It is important, however, that tax-payers consider carefully the timing of any large capital purchases, as the Allowance runs from January 2019 to December 2020 and will be apportioned according your accounting date. On 1 January 2021, AIA will return to £200,000.
Farmers will have to pay the costs for the sampling of fallen stock for BSE testing in new plans being drawn up by Defra.
Fallen stock more than 48 months must be tested for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE).
Farmers Guardian understands the Government is in the process of transferring the costs for the sampling to the industry. Not excluding VAT, the cost for each sample stands at about £6.25.
If your farm is operating as a family business, you might think it unnecessary to have a formal partnership agreement, but disputes and broken family relationships can result where misconceptions arise over ownership of assets.
It is not uncommon for the distinction between business assets and personal assets to become blurred over the years, and this is particularly true in the case of the farmhouse or similar buildings where the family has been residing. Are those buildings owned by the partners? Or were they owned by, for example, Father or Grandfather, and merely used by the farming partnership during the course of the ongoing activities of the business?
In a recent court case, where no formal partnership agreement had ever been drawn up, the judge ruled that a farmhouse
The average price of a house sold in mid Wales jumped 11 per cent last year according to new figures released. Good news for those looking to sell in 2019, according to Estate Agents, Roger Parry & Partners.
According to the UK House Price Index, published by the Land Registry, the average sale price in Powys is now to £197,226 after a 3.3% jump in October 2018. First time buyers would pay on average £173,357 for their first home while the average price for a current owner-occupier is £219,764.
Richard Corbett, Partner with Roger Parry & Partners in Oswestry said, “House prices across the UK increased by an average of 2.7 per cent in the 12 months to October 2018, according to the latest ONS house price index. This latest news is just what potential sellers want to hear right now. It shows confidence in the current housing market with positive signs that house prices could rise further in the new year.”
The arrival of a new year is often a time of optimism, of making plans for the year ahead, but increasingly for livestock farmers, January is now the time producers find themselves arguing a torrent of false claims of crimes against animal welfare, the environment and human health that the media are so quick to promote as part of ‘Veganuary’.
And this year, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is ready to fight back too against the misguided and misleading campaign.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “Make no doubt about it, behind the positive messages about Veganuary lies a well co-ordinated campaign against livestock farming. Our concern is that our unique grass based method of sheep production in Britain is hidden within more global and general statistics.
“We are seeing criticisms from welfare campaigners, rewilders, climate change campaigners, and health campaigners – but all these are connected and ignore the fact that UK sheep farming works very much in harmony with our environment, our landscapes, and our human ecology – creating a countryside the majority of the public love and producing a food product that is healthy and nutritious within a balanced diet.
“The climate change arguments that have been buoyed by the recent Paris Climate Change Summit ignore the fact that red meat from livestock that is part of a grass based system is different from that raised in feedlots and in intensive situations.
It is important to for Employers and Employees to understand their requirements with regards to holiday leave. Employees need to be aware that they can request holiday leave when they want. Employers may refuse to give holiday leave at certain times, for example during busy periods, but they can’t refuse to let an Employee take any holiday at all. They can also make Employees take leave at certain times, such as Christmas or bank holidays, and restrict how much holiday can be taken at one time.
An Employee will need to give an Employor at least twice the amount of notice as time as they want to take off, unless their contract says to the contrary. An Employer must give the same amount of notice to refuse leave as the amount of holiday an Employee has requested.
The Employer will also have a start and end date when the Employer should take your holiday known as the ‘leave year’ and Employees need to be aware of this because an Employee must take most of their statutory leave during the leave year. It is possible for Employees to ‘carry over’ in the next leave year up to 8 days out
Naming someone to take care of your finances in the event of incapacitating illness or injury, ensures you retain control of your business and can save substantial legal fees.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you choose people you trust to make financial or health and care decisions on your behalf. An LPA can be used only after it is registered, and there are two different types.
Property and financial affairs which covers management of investments, income, paying of bills and applying for benefits as well as purchase and sale of property.
Health and welfare can only be used when mental capacity has been lost. You can give authority for your chosen attorney to make decisions over life sustaining treatment as well as care packages, living arrangements and treatments.
Nine changes are being made to the system but they are unlikely appease everyone.
Changes are to be made to the livestock Quarantine Unit (QU) scheme in Wales after a dismal summer for some agricultural shows.
While they are set to be introduced before the 2019 show season, the changes are unlikely to appease exhibitors who this year were suddenly confronted by large fees for the privilege of showing their animals.
However a grant scheme may be introduced to help farmers meet the initial cost of QU certification.
NSA is celebrating the news that Secretary of State Michael Gove has refused permission for lynx to be released in the Kielder Forest, Northumberland – on the grounds that a review by Natural England has concluded the application from Lynx UK Trust does not meet the necessary standards.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “NSA is delighted to hear the application has been rejected and that Mr Gove and his colleagues within Defra and Natural England have taken our comments on board. We strongly believe this is the right decision, on ecological, social and agricultural grounds. Today’s victory is not just for farmers, but for the ecology of the area, the rural community and the farming economy.