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The search starts for Wales’ next generation of rural leaders and entrepreneurs

Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, today (Tuesday, 23 January) officially launched Farming Connect’s prestigious personal development programme, the Agri Academy 2018, at the Farmers’ Union of Wales annual farmhouse breakfast at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay.

The Agri Academy, now approaching its sixth year and with 165 alumni, brings together some of the most promising people making their way in the agricultural industry today.  

Regularly quoted by past candidates as ‘life changing’ this unique programme which takes place over three short, action-packed study periods and overseas visits, gives individuals selected the inspiration, confidence, skills and networks they need to become future rural leaders, professional business people and entrepreneurs. The application window for this year’s programme, will be open from Tuesday 23 January to Friday, 30 March 2018.

For more see: 

Following an unsuccessful appeal by HMRC, farmers should be able to continue to reclaim VAT against purchases of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements.

HMRC argued against farmer, Frank Smart, that the VAT incurred on the purchase of his BPS entitlements had a direct and immediate link to the subsidies which the taxpayer earned as a result. However, the Court of Session in Scotland rejected the appeal, relying on a line of cases decided by the European Court of Justice.

While all were in agreement that the subsidies were outside the scope of VAT, the key test was how the income from the subsidies was being used. In this instance, Mr Smart of Frank Smart & Son was investing in his taxable farming activities, which included construction of wind turbines to generate electricity for the National Grid and new cattle sheds. If the subsidies are invested in ongoing taxable activities, then no input tax restrictions should apply.

Farmers and rural business owners are invited to next month’s ‘Your Future, Your Farm’ event, which will see Richard Corbett, a partner with Roger Parry & Partners, join a panel of experts imparting advice on topics such as diversification, succession planning and other options for the future of farming businesses.

Members of the audience will be able to listen to the discussions and ask their own questions at the end of the event. Attendance is free of charge and will be held on Thursday, 15 February 2018 at Welshpool Livestock Sales, Buttington, near Welshpool, starting at 6.30pm. A free buffet will be held after the discussions and a cash bar will be open.

Roger Parry & Partners’ Richard Corbett said, “The audience will be a ‘fly on the wall’ to discussions between Stephen Kenyon, senior agent at NFU Mutual Welshpool and the panel of experts. Hopefully farmers and rural business owners will find it a very interesting evening being able to listen to advice from professionals, who deal with these types of issues on a day-to-day basis.”

Farmers from Pembrokeshire have raised money to help city kids build a new vegetable garden at Farms for City Children, at Lower Treginnis, St David’s.  


The money (£502.67) was raised through a variety of activities including a raffle and donations at the Farmers’ Union of Wales stand at the 2017 Pembrokeshire County Show and a pre-Christmas bingo.

FUW Pembrokeshire CEO Rebecca Voyle said: “ I am really pleased that the money we have raised will be put towards the re-developments which they have planned for their vegetable garden in 2018 including new polytunnels and seed beds. For the children who come here for a week with their schools it is an intense, ‘learning through doing’ experience of a different life. Many children may not know where their food comes from and have limited opportunities to explore the outside world, so a new vegetable garden to help them understand how their food is produced is definitely worth supporting.”

Children’s author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare founded Farms for City Children (FFCC) at Nethercott House in Devon in 1976 to offer urban children from all over the country a unique opportunity to live and work together for a week at a time on a real farm in the heart of the countryside.

Roger Parry & Partners’ are urging rural landlords to be aware, and get prepared for, new energy efficiency rules currently being consulted on and due to come into force on 1 April 2018.

A government consultation on the minimum level of energy efficiency in the private rented sector opened recently but isn’t due to close until just two weeks before the rules come into force in April.

From 1 April 2018 it will be illegal for a private landlord to let a property with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating lower than E to a new tenant.

ADAS recently estimated the cost of a scour outbreak in a 100-cow suckler herd (assuming 90 calves born) to be £5,794*. Consequently, it definitely pays to prevent any infectious calf scours gaining a foothold on any beef unit.

For more see: 

NFU Cymru has welcomed a commitment to a national food policy and recognition from the Secretary of State that food production is ‘at the heart of all farming businesses’ announced at Oxford Farming Conference this morning.

NFU Cymru has also welcomed a commitment for Defra to champion high quality domestic food at home and abroad.

NFU Cymru President Stephen James said that the commitment shown in Michael Gove’s speech is a positive signal for the farming industry, and he looks forward to seeing the details on this.  

Mr James added that Welsh farming has a unique role in producing a safe, affordable and high quality supply of food as well as caring for 80% of the Welsh countryside.


The National Living Wage for employees aged 25 and over will increase from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour from April 2018.  The National Minimum Wage rates will also increase as follows:

  • From £7.05 per hour to £7.38 per hour for 21 to 24 year olds.
  • From £5.60 per hour to £5.90 per hour for 18 to 20 year olds.
  • From £4.05 per hour to £4.20 per hour for 16 and 17 year olds.
  • From £3.50 per hour to £3,70 per hour for apprentices.

General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”)

The GDPR will come into force on 25 May 2018. This has the aim of providing tighter controls and over the collection, storage and processing of personal data.  This will effect in particular the providers of services and goods.

AHDB is encouraging farmers to make a conscious decision about their herd’s calving pattern that enables them to compete, matches their market segment, complements their mind-set and takes account of any on-farm limitations or opportunities.

To support this, the Milk Price Calculator (MPC) has been upgraded, and now offers farmers the ability to easily compare how prices will be affected by any change to production system. With the added feature of providing a full year of monthly prices, farmers can easily assess how different milk profiles will affect their cash flow and annual revenues.

Most milk buyers pay premiums or apply penalties for seasonal profiles, so there can be a significant difference in cash flows throughout the year for all year round (AYR) and block calving systems.

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: 

NFU Cymru has welcomed the Welsh Government reaffirming its commitment to ring-fence funding for Welsh farming post-Brexit.

Last week NFU Cymru met with Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, and in a wide ranging discussion covering a range of topics, Brexit topped the agenda.

Following the meeting, NFU Cymru President Stephen James said: “I am pleased that in our meeting with the Cabinet Secretary, Lesley Griffiths AM, she reaffirmed the commitment from the First Minister that funding for Welsh agriculture from the UK Government to the Welsh Government will be ring-fenced for Welsh farmers post-Brexit.”

The Cabinet Secretary’s commitment follows on from a response that the First Minister gave to Plenary on the 24th October and reaffirms the commitment in the Welsh Government / Plaid Cymru Securing Wales’ Future document which stated that it is ‘essential that equivalent or greater resources to those Wales would have received from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are provided from the UK to support Welsh farming’.

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: 

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.


How to safely and legally dispose of dead farm animals.


If you are a farmer, you are responsible for the safe and legal disposal of your fallen stock (dead livestock).

You can make your own arrangements for your fallen stock to be disposed of at an approved premises, or you can use the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo).

Further information is available from (external link). 


Eblex has released a new Cow Beef Guide to help industry explore different classifications and qualities. 

The latest addition to Eblex’s series of knowledge transfer guides looks at the difference between dairy and suckler cows, and describes how cow beef is used in the supply chain. It explains how the meat is less tender than prime beef, and therefore more suitable for burgers, mince and slow cooking.

Eblex business development manager Dick van Leeuwen said: “Eblex has produced a series of knowledge transfer guides, which have been developed to add value to the beef and lamb industry by improving the training resources available to businesses in the supply, processing and independent butchery sectors. The ‘Cow Beef Guide’ goes back to basics and contains useful examples of carcase classification which can be referred to time and again.”

The organisation explained that the guide also covers carcase classification, conformation and fat levels for cow beef and includes images for ‘R’, ‘O’ and ‘P’ carcase classifications. 

See more at: 



Livestock inspections are the bane of many farmers lives. Gemma Claxton asks John Burne, head of Compliance and Guidance at the Rural Payments Agency, what farmers should expect when their turn comes and how they can avoid penalties and loss of income

John Burne leads teams of inspectors across England which carried out more than 11,000 inspections in 2013. Cross compliance breaches were found on just over 800 of these. However, not all inspections carry a cross compliance check. Farmers Weekly put some questions to Mr Burne.

Why does the RPA carry out inspections?

Some are carried out for cross compliance, linked to the Single Payment Scheme, to check farmers are meeting EU regulations they need to for the scheme.

Livestock inspections are focused on identification and traceability to help reduce the likelihood and impact of disease outbreaks.

Farm inspections are necessary to protect the quality of the environment and the welfare of our livestock, as well as animal, plant and human health. 

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