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Farming

New setback on glyphosate licensing

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Disaster: Farmers express concern on glyphosate

THE EUROPEAN Commission has proposed extending the license for weed-killer glyphosate by five years after its initial plan for a 10-year approval did not secure sufficient support.

EU countries failed on Wednesday to vote on a license extension, for the second time this month, delaying a decision that needs to be taken before the end of the year on the widely used herbicide that critics say could cause cancer.

The Commission said in a statement that it had now submitted to EU countries its proposal for a five-year approval, with a vote now expected at the next sitting of the relevant committee on November 9.

France has now said it will not accept a five-year license renewal.

Europe has been stuck over what to do with the chemical, a key ingredient in Monsanto Co’s top-selling weed-killer Roundup, after the World Health Organization’s cancer agency concluded in March 2015 it was a substance that probably causes cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) sparked concern by adding glyphosate to its list of things that ‘probably’ cause cancers.

Red meat, wood fires, emissions from frying, shift work and drinking beverages hotter than 65°C are all on the same IARC list.

The IARC’s list of things that definitely cause cancers includes alcohol, sunshine, diesel exhaust fumes, processed meats, outdoor air pollution, salted fish, soot and wood dust. That’s right, beer and bacon are more dangerous than glyphosate.

The EU passed an 18-month extension in June 2016 pending further scientific study. That research came in the form of a European Chemical Agency conclusion in March that there was no evidence to link glyphosate to cancer in humans.

“The epidemiologic evidence does not support a causal relationship between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other cancers,” says John Acquavella at Aarhus University, Denmark, who reviewed all the evidence after the IARC listing.

Notwithstanding the evidence from its own scientific experts, the European Parliament called on Tuesday for glyphosate to be phased out over the next five years, with an immediate ban on sales to consumers and for use in public spaces, such as parks.

France, one of the countries opposing a 10-year approval, said on Wednesday that it was prepared to accept a four-year license extension.

Farmers groups have said the product is safe and that removing it would put EU farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

CLA Deputy President Tim Breitmeyer said: “We are grateful that the UK government has stood firmly behind the scientific evidence and voted for the relicensing of glyphosate. It is vital to remember that the EU’s own expert agencies have concluded that glyphosate is safe. However, too many other EU countries have caved into a concerted highly politicised scaremongering campaign.

“This decision not to allow the relicense is a disaster for agriculture and the environment. It will dramatically impact the ability of farmers to keep at bay the spread of grassweed infestation and will ultimately harm the environment. It will force farmers to use a shrinking portfolio of narrow spectrum chemicals, encourage resistance in the seed bank and steer farmers away from conservation tillage.

“We will urge the EU Commission to look at whatever can now be done to mitigate this disastrous and unnecessary situation.”

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Farming

Last Golden Eagle of Wales found dead

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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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Farming

Big Farmland Bird Count returns

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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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Farming

New Flock and Herd Health Officers

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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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