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Carmarthenshire farmers discuss sustainable farming scheme with Senedd member

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Farmers from Carmarthenshire have come together to discuss the sustainable farming scheme and wider farming matters.

The discussion was joined by Member of the Senedd for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Sam Kurtz MS, who heard that the Water Resource (Control of Agricultural Pollution) Relations remain a worry for farmers.

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Hosting the event was FUW member and tenant farmer Iwan Francis, who runs a dairy farm at Nantglas, Talog, Carmarthenshire. The holding is one of the four Farming Connect’s dairy demonstration sites across Wales. The farm encompasses 55 hectares and a further 75 hectares of off-lying land are rented. The herd is split into a block calving system with 100 cows calving in the spring and 100 in the autumn. There are also 120 heifer followers.

FUW Carmarthenshire County executive officer David Waters said: “Although the regulation relating to the annual nitrogen holding limit has been postponed until April 2023, and the Welsh Government is due to open a consultation on the proposed licensing scheme that would allow some farmers a higher annual holding nitrogen limit of 250kg/ha, many farmers have already made significant investments in land and infrastructure in order to comply with the regulations as they were due to be introduced on 1 January 2023. However tenant farmers are being left in an impossible position when evaluating their options to ensure compliance with regulations.”

Raising concerns about the sustainable farming scheme, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “Members have once again voiced their concerns over the 10% woodland creation and management requirement. It’s vital the scheme recognises that not all farms will be able to reach 10% and those that can need to do so with the right trees, in the right places, for the right reasons. If that isn’t reflected in the final scheme, we risk alienating farmers from the scheme entirely and encountering a range of unintended consequences.”

Addressing the issue of bovine TB, FUW policy officer Elin Jenkins added: “In an area where TB is a constant battle for cattle keepers the frustration is clear. The levels of TB in Wales remain variable and significant in-roads in eradication have yet to be made since the implementation of the TB Eradication Programme.

“Mr Francis is a shining example of a generation of young dairy farmers with a passion for caring for the health and welfare of their herd and producing milk in a streamlined and low input system. However, the looming cloud of TB is never far away. It is incredibly important to remember that behind every TB breakdown there is a farmer, and their family, that must pick up the pieces both financially and emotionally. The FUW continues to call for a more holistic TB eradication policy in Wales which deals with all sources of infection.”

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