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Farming

#FarmingMatters takes centre stage

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(L-R) FUW President Glyn Roberts, Y Tir Editor Nia Davies-Jones, FUW Managing Director Alan Davies and FUW Press Officer Anne Birkett

THE FARMERS’ Union of Wales’ campaign #FarmingMatters, which set out to demonstrate the key role that farming plays in the wider rural economy and showcase the wider social and cultural importance of farming in Wales with the wider aim of convincing the Welsh Government that it is essential to protect Welsh farming from the potential negative impact of Brexit, has been recognised at the UK Public Affairs Awards as the best campaign in Wales.

For the past 18 months the FUW has been busy highlighting why farming matters and when the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, immediately realised the need to raise awareness of the concerns for farming in Wales, mainly due to Welsh farmers’ strong trading relationship with the EU.

FUW Managing Director Alan Davies said: “I would first of all like to congratulate the staff at the FUW for their fantastic effort, which has resulted in the campaign being recognised as the best in Wales. For us at the FUW it became critical to highlight the potential impact any failed trade negotiations could have on the wider economy and multiple small businesses in the supply chain. The FUW further needed to create awareness, promote understanding and develop knowledge of the farming sector in Wales.

“It was determined that we needed to create an easy to remember message that raised the profile of farming in Wales and the risks to its future and we wanted this to be a phrase that tripped off the tongue.

“As the Union deals with Farming Matters on a daily basis, we saw an opportunity to use the double meaning of these words to highlight our key message. We do work on farming matters, but the truth is: Farming Matters, to so many, in so many other ways. This was seen as a neat play on words leading us to: #FarmingMatters.”

With this in mind the FUW set out to explain why and how farming matters to Members of the National Assembly of Wales and the wider public, with the view of changing attitudes and policies, and creating the understanding that family farms are the cornerstone of our rural economy.

The FUW ensured that the campaign was based on evidence in terms of importance, highlighting that farming is the backbone of the Welsh food and drinks sector, which employs 222,400 people, 17% of the Welsh workforce. The campaign further demonstrated that Welsh family farms do so much more than just produce food – they are the cornerstone of our rural economies and Welsh food production sustains tens of thousands of other businesses from upstream businesses such as feed merchants, agricultural contractors and engineers, to downstream businesses such as hauliers, processors and retailers.

In addition the campaign stressed that for every £100 generated on farm, £60 is spent within 7 miles of the farm, as well as making it clear that by managing of over 80% of Wales’ landmass, farmers play an invaluable part in managing and preserving a landscape which provides clean drinking water for millions, is diverse in habitat and species and includes more than 1,000 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

The FUW, through the #FarmingMatters campaign, communicated that other benefits of Welsh farming include major contributions to negating the causes and symptoms of climate change, whether through the storage of carbon in farm woodland, hedgerows and peat bogs, or the generation of green electricity through on-farm wind and water turbines.

By providing employment and economic growth in rural areas, the farming sector also mitigates rural depopulation, protects rural culture and heritage and keeps the Welsh language alive.

“We needed a multi-channel route to deliver our message and therefore arranged farm visits for Assembly Members across Wales, attended all of the Party Conferences held in Wales including speaking opportunities and conference debates at two, incorporated regular meetings with Ministers, Assembly Committees and Assembly Members, issued targeted news releases and ran a supporting social media campaign. All of this was backed up by regular repetitive and consistent messaging on #FarmingMatters,” said Alan Davies.

The #FarmingMatters campaign resulted in most Assembly Members, including First Minister Carwyn Jones, giving their clear commitment and backing to the Welsh farming industry, adopting our key messages around trade post Brexit, as demonstrated in the ‘Securing Wales’ Future – Transition from the European Union to a new relationship with Europe’ white paper in June 2017, recognising the importance of maintaining farming support after the UK leaves the European Union and backing the FUW’s call for a UK wide agricultural framework that respects devolution.

“There were also some unexpected benefits. Due to the success of the #FarmingMatters campaign we were able to convince a group of Labour politicians, primarily from urban constituencies, to come together at the Welsh Labour party conference in March 2017, to demonstrate support for rural Wales. The group is called “‘Llafur Cefn Gwlad” again a play on words as it means the “labour of rural Wales”. We will continue this campaign over the coming year and hope it will reach many more people, creating even better understanding amongst politicians and the public. ” added Alan Davies.

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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