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News from AgriWales - A blog about everything and anything that's happening

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. 

Farmers across the UK are being urged to make sure they take full advantage of the new Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) of £1million which came into force on 1 January 2019 and will remain at that level for 2 years.

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.

Terriers come in two types. Farmers are already familiar with the usefulness of the small hairy kind that who can keep rats out of the barn. For the purpose of this blog we will focus on a lesser known variety.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the other version of a terrier is defined as ‘a register of the lands belonging to a landowner, originally including a list of tenants, their holdings, and the rents paid, later consisting of a description of the acreage and boundaries of the property.’

Literally coming from Medieval Latin meaning ‘book of land’, a copy of the terrier is an essential part of an accountants files when dealing with farms and landed estates.

According to Defra’s most recent Farm Business Survey, two-thirds of farm businesses in England and 38% of farmers in Wales, have already diversified. Roger Parry & Partners are urging those who haven’t yet considered diversifying to start preparing now for a post Brexit future.

Richard Corbett, Partner in Roger Parry & Partners’ Oswestry office is concerned that farming is entering a time of major change, but not all farmers are ready to face that change. Richard said, “Those farm businesses that are prepared to recognise that change is on the way, and have planned for the future, will be the most resilient in the face of the industry restructure that is forecast. Those farmers will also be best placed to take advantage of any future opportunities.”

In the latest edition of Roger Parry & Partners’ newsletter, The Review, Richard highlights some of the opportunities and diversification trends that farmers could take advantage of, whether looking for a new project or wanting to add value to an existing diversification.

A new highly sensitive and specific blood test for bovine TB, Actiphage, has been accepted for exceptional private use in England.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said the test could be used in cases where a farm has had an ongoing chronic bovine TB problem.

For the full article see: https://www.fginsight.com/news/top-stories/new-highly-sensitive-bovine-tb-test-approved-by-apha-61476 

A TB vaccination for cattle could be one step closer thanks to a new test which detects bacteria in blood or milk after just six hours.

Actiphage TB, which has been created by Suffolk-based start-up PBD Biotech, is a highly sensitive test which can pick up whether an animal is infected or has been vaccinated.

For the full article see: https://www.fginsight.com/news/top-stories/groundbreaking-tb-test-brings-cattle-vaccination-one-step-closer-42159?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=latestnews 

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 percent 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.

 

A research breakthrough allowing the first direct, empirical, blood-based, cow-side test for diagnosing bovine TB could spare farmers and the agriculture industry from costly quarantines and the mass slaughter of animals.

For full article see: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/us-scientists-develop-new-btb-test/ 

A new blood test to detect bTB, has been developed by a team at The University of Nottingham.

Researchers have used this new method to show cattle diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) have detectable levels of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) in their blood, causing the disease.

This new blood test detects very low levels of mycobacteria in blood using a bacteriophage-based technique developed by The University of Nottingham.

FOR THE FULL ARTICLE see: https://www.fginsight.com/news/new-blood-test-for-the-detection-of-tb-12526?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dairy 

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