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Producers and processors should work together



Uncertain times for dairy industry: NFU

A COLLABORATIVE, trusting and transparent relationship between dairy processors and producers in Wales is more important than ever before in light of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

That is the message from NFU Cymru at the Welsh Dairy Show in Nantyci, Carmarthen.

With milk prices on the rise, there’s no doubt that this year’s Welsh Dairy Show will see milk producers in a more upbeat mood than they were 12 months ago. However, with Brexit drawing closer and the open-sided nature of many milk contracts skewed towards the processor, these are still uncertain times for the dairy industry in Wales.

NFU Cymru Milk Board Chairman Aled Jones said: “With Brexit looming large on the horizon, now is the time for milk producers to take stock and look at their relationship with their milk purchaser.

“The introduction of Dairy Producer Organisations (DPOs) is something that NFU Cymru has supported for a long time now, and we believe that advocating the right producer representation could pave the way for producer organisations here in Wales, where appropriate. Presently most of us deal on an individual basis with our processors but, long-term, I think that we are far stronger if we speak as one voice. For some, DPOs could bring longer-term contracts providing better security – we are already seeing five-year contracts in place in Ireland.

“I would also urge all buyers to provide options in their contracts to help producers manage milk price risk. I would like to see more opportunity for forward contracts for all or part of annual milk production to protect against volatility and provide certainty on price and volume for both producer and processor. There is also an opportunity for the futures market as a price smoothing mechanism. It is encouraging that some dairy companies have started on these routes but we need more to do so.

“For this to work, we need improved transparency and accurate up-to-date milk price reporting mechanisms. We require the support of Government to put a mandatory mechanism in place covering both milk price and volumes.”

Mr Jones will also use the Welsh Dairy Show to talk about the wider challenges and opportunities facing the industry as a result of the UK’s impending departure from the EU.

“We are not clear yet what Brexit will bring, but on trade, there is a huge opportunity to displace imports and expand exports. That will, however, require a step change from the current situation and an increased focus on added value processing here in Wales and across the UK. I would dearly wish to see investment in more processing capacity for added value in the milk fields of Wales.

“Despite the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit, there are opportunities for the Welsh dairy sector. I believe that our climate and rainfall will increasingly make us a favoured area for milk production as climate change impacts on global production systems. To grasp these opportunities we need to see close cooperation and improved collaboration across the supply chain and contracts in place that help give producers greater certainty, clarity and security over milk price.

“Our Governments in Cardiff and Westminster also have a crucial role to play in making sure we have continued access to export markets and the right policy framework to support a productive, progressive and profitable dairy industry in Wales.”

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Last Golden Eagle of Wales found dead



WALES will no longer see the golden eagle fly through the skies after the last of its kind was found dead by a walker in Abergwesyn Valley, near Llanwrtyd Wells.

The Golden Eagle was native to Wales, Europe and North America and due to human persecution had begun to die out, the last breeding pair being found in Snowdonia in 1850. It is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere, but unfortunately Wales will not see the bird in action for a very long time.

The female bird of prey was being watched and followed by the presenter of Spring Watch, Iolo Williams, and will appear in the last episode of the latest show ‘Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales.’

The company behind the television show which captures the highlights of Welsh wildlife, Aden Productions, commented on the extinction of the Golden Eagle. Taking to twitter, a statement read:
“Our whole crew was shocked and saddened to hear about the demise of our beloved Cambrians golden eagle, the last golden eagle to fly wild in Wales. We hope our final episode of Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales is a fitting tribute to her.”

It is still not known how the female bird died, leaving questions for bird lovers, but plans are being made by the Eagle Reintroduction Wales project to reintroduce the bird of prey back into Welsh wildlife is under way. However, it is explained that this is not a simple process. They will firstly need Natural Resource Wales to issue a license which does take time.

The Golden Eagle has not left the UK completely and can still be found in the far North of Scotland.

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Big Farmland Bird Count returns




JIM EGAN has sent out a rallying cry for people to pick up their binoculars and go bird-spotting for the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) which returns on Friday, February 8.

The passionate organiser of the count, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is urging farmers, land managers, gamekeepers and all wildlife enthusiasts to spend 30 minutes recording what species they see on their patch of land from February 8th to the 17th.

Your support will help identify the farmland birds that are flourishing due to good conservation methods and ones in need of most support.

“It would be fantastic to see even more farmers to take part in the count this year,” said Jim.

“Counting birds on farms is a great way to recognise what species are there as well as being an opportunity to take time out and see the benefits of work such as wild seed mix and supplementary feeding.

“Taking part and submitting results enables us at GWCT to shout about the important conservation work many farmers are doing.

“We want landowners to be proud of their efforts. We will make sure that the public and policymakers hear about what can be achieved on Britain’s farms. The BFBC is a very positive way to showcase what can be achieved.”

Backing this vital citizen-science project, running for the sixth successive year, is the NFU, which is this year’s sponsor.

President Minette Batters is vowing her support to the count by going bird-watching on her farm in Downton, Wiltshire.

She will be joined on day one with GWCT biodiversity advisor Pete Thompson, an advocate of the count, both of whom will be ready with their binoculars, notepads and sharpened pencils, recording what they see.

“I am delighted to be taking part in this year’s GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count which the NFU is pleased to be sponsoring for the very first time,” she said.

“It’s becoming an important national event where thousands of farmers and growers around the country are able to take stock of and importantly, take pride in what they find on their land.

“The NFU supports initiatives like the Big Farmland Bird Count as without sound management of the environment, enhancement of habitats, protection of wildlife and support for pollinators and soils, we do not have farming businesses.

“So, I would encourage all farmers to take part, and also remember to submit your records to the GWCT, so we can pull together a vital national snapshot of the state of the nation when it comes to farmland birds.”

A record-breaking 1,000 people took part in last year’s count, recording 121 species across 950,000 acres.

A total of 25 red-listed species were recorded, with five appearing in the 25 most commonly seen species list. These include fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, song thrushes and yellowhammers. The most plentiful of these were fieldfares and starlings, which were seen on nearly 40% of the farms taking part.

At the end of the count, the results will be analysed by the Trust. All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.

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New Flock and Herd Health Officers




HYBU Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has appointed two new Flock and Herd Health Officers to its ambitious five-year Red Meat Development Programme, designed to equip Wales’s lamb and beef industry for a changing future.

The posts are key to delivering the programme’s commitment to helping farmers achieve on-farm efficiency and drive best practice in proactive animal health planning.

The programme is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Lowri Reed hails from a farming background near Llanon in central Ceredigion, whereas Lowri Williams is from Llanfihangel y Creuddyn near Aberystwyth, and is a graduate in Animal Management and Welfare from Harper Adams University.

Dr Rebekah Stuart, the coordinator of the Flock and Herd Health Project at HCC, said: “We’re delighted to have recruited two officers with experience and knowledge of agriculture and flock management to this important strand of work.

“There are few things that can have as great an impact on the efficiency and bottom line of a livestock enterprise as a proactive and coordinated approach to animal health and eradicating disease.

“The project will help farmers to work with vets to put health plans in place and monitor their effectiveness. Since opening an initial expression of interest window late last year at the Winter Fair, we’re encouraged by how many farmers are keen to be involved. We look forward to working with them to put this exciting project into action.”

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