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Farming union says UK-NZ trade deal more than 40 TIMES worse for UK sheep industry than EU-NZ deal

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The increase in New Zealand’s import quota for sheep meat in year one of new trade agreements signed by the UK and EU is more than forty times higher per head of population in the UK compared with the European Union-demonstrating the failure of the UK Government to protect UK agriculture in trade negotiations, says the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW).

An EU-New Zealand trade deal recently agreed in principle would allow an additional 5,429 tonnes of sheep meat to be imported duty-free into the EU in year one of the agreement, whilst the equivalent figure for the UK in the deal announced in February this year is 35,000 tonnes.

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“The UK increase in duty free quota for New Zealand sheep meat would be almost six and a half times higher in year one than what has been negotiated by the EU,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

“However, when you take account of the fact that the population of the EU is nearly seven times higher than that of the UK, the increase per consumer is 43 times higher in the UK than in the EU.”

Mr Roberts said that another way of looking at the figure was that the EU had fought forty times harder for its sheep industry than the UK during its trade negotiations with New Zealand.

While both the UK and EU deals would ultimately increase tariff-free quotas for sheep meat by year seven of the agreements, the difference between consumer numbers means the total volumes that could be imported per head of population would be almost seven times higher in the UK than in the EU.

“As if this is not bad enough, the UK deal ultimately allows unlimited amounts of sheep meat to be imported, whilst the EU has set a cap on imports,” said Mr Roberts.

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Similar differences between ratios and protections exist for other key products covered in the two trade deals.

For example, in years one to seven of the EU-NZ deal, the additional quantity of beef that could be imported to the EU would rise from 3,333 tonnes in year one to 10,000 in year seven-but at a reduced tariff of 7.5%; by comparison, the UK has agreed to an additional 12,000 tonnes of beef being imported to the UK duty free in year one, rising to an unlimited amount after year ten.

For cheese, the UK has agreed to an additional duty-free quota of 24,000 tonnes in year one, rising to 48,000 by year five, after which there would be no limits on imports-compared with an EU provisional agreement to allow an increase in the duty-free import quota to 25,000 by year seven, but with no ultimate full trade liberalisation.

“The UK’s own figures have shown that the benefits to the UK economy of the deal with New Zealand are vanishingly small, with our GVA estimated to grow by just 0.03% and average wages to rise by just pennies a week as a result of the deal.

Meanwhile, the same UK Government assessment estimates that the GVA of the categories into which farming and semi-processed foods will fall by £132 million as a result of the deal.”

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The population of New Zealand is just 5 million compared with a UK population of 67 million, meaning the UK is a far more attractive market for New Zealand than New Zealand is for the UK.

“The comparisons between the EU and UK deals demonstrate how the UK Government has failed to fight for the interests of our farmers, food producers and food security in its trade negotiations, despite having significant bargaining advantages,” said Mr Roberts.

“The UK Government has sold important protections for food and agriculture down the river in exchange for trade deals that are of vanishingly small benefit to the UK,” he added.

The Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill currently passing through the UK Parliament would, if passed by MPs, give the UK’s final seal of approval to the UK-New Zealand and UK-Australia trade deals, but the International Trade Committee has criticised the UK Government for triggering the statutory scrutiny period for the Bill despite giving assurances that the Committee would be allowed sufficient time to publish a report beforehand.

The Committee also asked the Government to meet its commitment to allow a debate on the UK-Australia agreement and to either extend the statutory period or give the House of Commons the opportunity to extend it by passing a motion resolving that the treaty should not be ratified. However, the Government has declined to use its statutory power to extend the scrutiny period under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

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“In addition to having failed to negotiate a trade deal that is in our nations’ interests, the Government appears to want to avoid the scrutiny such deals are allowed in any other democracy in the world by railroading the legislation through Parliament,” added Mr Roberts.

(Lead image: FUW)

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Farming

Farming union anger at ‘oat drink’ only option on council’s stand at Eisteddfod… held on dairy farm

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Farmers Union of Wales has met with Ceredigion Council’s leader following concerns about the lack of a cow’s milk option for making smoothies on their stall at the Eisteddfod.

The union said that members of the public raised concerns to it about the lack of cow’s milk as a choice for children who were making smoothies on a stand run by Ceredigion County Council.

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Discussions were held with the leader to understand the reasoning behind the decision to allegedly only offer oat drink, a dairy milk alternative, as a base for the smoothies

An FUW official said that the point was put to the leader that this year’s Eisteddfod was being held on a dairy farm, therefore could they offer an explanation for the dubious choice of using an oat drink from France rather than local fresh milk?

Speaking on behalf of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, the President Glyn Roberts said: “Ceredigion is one of the most famous counties in Wales for producing milk and the industry makes a huge contribution to the economy and culture of the county.

“The Eisteddfod Maes and competing is full of adults and children who come from dairy farms, as well as those who work in the milk industry and the feelings of disappointment and anger about the choice of using oat drink from France rather than local milk is plain to see.”

The Eisteddfod is being held this year on a dairy farm in Ceredigion (Image: FUW)

Although Ceredigion County Council claim that the decision to use oat drinks rather than cow’s milk was based on concerns around maintaining adequate and safe temperatures while storing milk, Mr Roberts said that there were serious concerns to answer about this excuse.

“The Farmers’ Union of Wales-like tens of other organisations-give out cow’s milk regularly on stalls at shows and events and have done so for decades-even at the Royal Welsh Show recently where temperatures soared higher than ever before.

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“There is nothing out of the ordinary about the temperatures we are experiencing this week and so the question still stands, so why has Ceredigion County Council decided to promote oat drinks imported from France rather than locally-sourced milk of the highest possible quality?”

A spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council said in response: “The council has daily cooking demonstrations at the National Eisteddfod focusing on produce from various areas across the county, and offering tea to the public using a local dairy company, Llaeth Llanfair.

“There is also a range of opportunities for children, young people and families to keep fit and participate safely in inclusive and varied activities on the Maes.

“The smoothie bikes are an outdoor activity that requires the ingredients to be a product that can be kept out of the fridge for a while.

“In addition, the council needs to ensure inclusive provisions for children with allergies/intolerances, and this is done by offering drinks options that include cow’s milk, oat drinks, orange juice and water.

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“The decision was taken following the advice of the council’s internal health and safety service due to the risk of children suffering an anaphylactic shock if they happen to have any food allergies.

“All drink options are now available to those who wish to participate on the smoothie bike activity.”

(Lead image: Ceredigion Council)

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Farming

Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society launch search for Ambassador-elect

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Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society are looking to appoint an Ambassador for 2023 to help support Officeholders in promoting and meeting the aims of the Society.

This voluntary role will shadow the 2022 Ambassador, Mrs Carys Phillips, at this year’s County Show and other Society events. They will also play an important role in the promotion of the work of the Society, the agricultural industry and rural life in Pembrokeshire. 

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Anyone aged between 18 and 30 and residing in Pembrokeshire can apply for the role. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview on Tuesday, 16 August 2022, at the County Show office. The successful applicant will receive an allowance of £200 and membership of the Society for three years.

Mansel Raymond, Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society President, said, “The Ambassador role is an important one. In order to fulfil the role successfully the applicant must have excellent communication skills and an enthusiasm to carry out required duties. Knowledge of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society and the County Show is desirable. Last year was the first year we opened up applications to all and made the role inclusive to all.”

Carys Phillips was announced as Ambassador at last year’s County Show. Carys grew up on a dairy farm in Llys y Fran and now lives on a beef and sheep farm with her husband in Freshwater East. Carys is a primary school teacher at Ysgol Glannau Gwaun in Fishguard where she teaches years five and six in the Welsh stream.

A keen YFC member of Llys y Fran YFC for over 17 years, Carys was Chairman of the club for two years during the pandemic. She is Pembrokeshire YFC’s County Vice Chairman and also the Rally Queen. 

Carys has fond memories of having always attended every day of the County Show for as far back as she remembers. 

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Carys said, “Being from a dairy farm we never went on holidays as a family but the County Show was our go to holiday. Having had many friends who have gained the Ambassador role in the past, it felt like the right time to go for it and give as much as I can give to the society.”

Carys added, “I hope to help as much as I can in supporting the Society. I’m hoping to bring a close connection between Pembrokeshire YFC members and the Society and think it would be a great achievement if we can work closely as two fantastic agricultural movements in Pembrokeshire. Hopefully, this will bring new and young faces to help the society and the County Show. Working together is key and hopefully we will make strong connections with the young farmers around our county.”

Those interested in applying for the position will need to complete the application form.

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Carmarthen producer wins best sausage in Wales award

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Red Valley Farm in Carmarthen is celebrating coming first in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’s ‘Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2022’ competition, with their wild garlic sausages crowned as the very best bangers in Wales.

Business partners Andy Washbourne and Graeme Carter were delighted with the victory, with the high-flying producers taking the coveted award for the second year running. As winners, they will now automatically qualify for the ‘Champion of Champions’ sausage competition at the UK-wide Butcher Shop of the Year 2023 awards.

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Speaking after winning the title during a special event at the Royal Welsh Show, Graeme Carter said: “It really is an incredible honour to have our sausages named as the very best in Wales. Winning an award like this really makes all the hard work worthwhile and shows that our ethos of producing quality, small-scale and locally produced pork pays off in the end.

“We were really proud of our wild garlic sausages, but it’s still a pleasant surprise to win the title. We had a really good time at the final judging event and the fact that the standard was so high amongst all the shortlisted finalists just goes to show what a fantastic pork industry we have in Wales.

“Since taking over the farm from my parents a few years ago, specialising in rearing pigs has really turned into a passion for me and Andy. We were gifted one boar to help clear the ground following some tree planting and everything has literally grown from there. We just plan to go from strength to strength and concentrate on what we do best, which is quality, sustainably produced pork.

“We’re now really looking forward to be representing Wales at the ‘Champion of Champions’ sausage competition and hope to be crowned the best across the whole of the UK.”

Red Valley Farm pipped Haverfordwest’s Prendergast Butchers and Puff Pigs of Ynysybwl to the title, wowing the panel of judges including leading Welsh food personality Chris ‘Flamebaster’ Roberts.

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Chris said: “Nobody likes a banger more than me and the quality of those that made the final meant it was certainly a pleasure to be on the judging panel.

“It’s always really tough to choose a winner when the standard is so high, but right from the off we were impressed with the wild garlic sausages. They looked the part, the consistency was spot on and they just tasted amazing. Having now had a sample of them I’m pretty keen to get my hands on the recipe myself to try and work out the secret of making sausages taste so good!”

Speaking about his delight at the standard of entries to this year’s competition, Rhys Llywelyn, Market Development Manager at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, said: “It was fantastic to be back at the Royal Welsh Show to hold the awards and the standard of the three finalists certainly didn’t disappoint. However, in the end Red Valley Farm just about came out on top, so a huge congratulations to them and we wish them the best of luck at the UK ‘Champion of Champions’ finals.

“Our small-scale pork producers in Wales have a fantastic story to tell. They specialise in creating a unique, hand-reared product that is often only available to buy directly from themselves and local independent shops, like butchers. This makes it a more sustainable food product, generating fewer food miles, and I’d urge consumers to seek out their local producer and find out for themselves the fantastic quality that’s on offer.”

For more information on pork produced in Wales, and where you can buy it, visit porcblasus.cymru.

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(Lead image: Patrick Olner)

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