Recently by Gareth Wyn Jones

Sir John Houghton meeting.JPGOFFICIALS from the Farmers' Union of Wales Meirionnydd branch have met Nobel Peace Prize winner Sir John Houghton to discuss the implications of global climate change for Welsh farmers.

The meeting was arranged by Meirionnydd FUW county executive officer Huw Jones to coincide with the current Welsh Assembly Government review of land management actions under Axis 2 of the Rural Development Plan for Wales.

It took place at FUW county executive committee member David Roberts' farm near Aberdyfi.

"Given the gravity of this issue, and the impact that the current review of Axis II Schemes could have for Welsh producers, it was a great privilege for the FUW to meet with Sir John in order to hear his views," said Mr Roberts.

During the meeting Sir John provided a detailed account of the various factors influencing climate change, including deforestation, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions, and the 'feedback' that can occur as carbon dioxide is released from drying soils.

"Sir John explained that while there was uncertainty at one time regarding man 's contribution to climate change, the vast majority of scientists are now in no doubt that it is a real and extreme phenomenon," said Mr Roberts

"The implications are dire, particularly given that the World population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050.

"The melting of the icecaps and glaciers is expected to raise sea levels to the extent that large areas of our most fertile land will become submerged, while rising temperatures will change weather patterns, accelerate desertification, and alter the viability of farming systems around the globe.

"This will mean the large displacement of populations and more food having to be produced on less land.

"Meanwhile, there is a desperate need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maximise carbon absorption and storage, and balancing food production and carbon storage formed a significant part of our discussion."

During the meeting FUW members expressed concern that farmers undertaking costly voluntary or compulsory initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions might place businesses at an economic disadvantage if parallel action was not taken globally.

"Some climate change campaigners only concentrate on reducing emissions in Wales and the UK, without considering the influence on international trade and domestic food security. Yet short-sighted draconian measures implemented at a local level are likely to increase global greenhouse gas emissions," said Mr Roberts.

"Rules that disadvantage Welsh production will simply result in more of our food being grown by unsustainable farming methods in other countries, leading to more deforestation, more CO2 emissions, and more food miles.

"Policies that fail to recognise the full picture, including the need to maintain rural economies and domestic food production, are likely to make matters worse"

There was unanimous recognition at the meeting that 'global problems demand global solutions', and that changes affecting the farming sector should be carefully planned and managed at an international scale.

"There are many things that Welsh farming families can do to help in their small way, and support to do this must be provided by government. However, above all, we need global coordination and local and global investment."

Sir John emphasised the risk that the current financial crisis could eclipse the acute need to take international action on climate change. He emphasised the economic boost that would accompany local and global investments in measures that tackle climate change.

"Such measures would provide the much needed boost that economies need, and would be a case of killing two birds with one stone."


NOTE TO EDITORS: Sir John Houghton was formerly chief executive of the Meteorological Office and chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. In 1994 he joined the UK government panel on sustainable development and was a recipient of the Global 500 Award, under the United Nations Environmental Programme. Sir John has been chairman of scientific committees for the World Climate Research Programme, the Global Climate Observing System and the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. In 1998 he was awarded the International Meteorological Organisation Prize and in 2007 he received the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delegation, alongside the former vice-president of America Al Gore.

PICTURE CAPTION: David Roberts, Trefrifawr, Aberdyfi welcomes Sir John Houghton to the meeting at his farm, together with Meirionnydd FUW County Officials and staff.

THE winner of the Farmers' Union of Wales £700 student bursary is 39-year-old Jon Paul Mccalmont who is studying countryside management at Aberystwyth University.

Jon, of Llangammarch Wells, Powys, will receive his award from FUW president Gareth Vaughan on the FUW''s stand at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

Born and brought up in Talybont-on-Usk, he has worked as a self-employed sub-contractor in the forestry industry. He said: "I felt it was now time for a change from the heavy end of the forestry industry and I am hoping to develop my career into a more managerial sector.

"My particular interest would lie in upland land management and conservation. As a keen Land Rover enthusiast and home mechanic I am quite capable of maintaining my own vehicle and have actually converted my Land Rover to run on recycled cooking oil."

In runner-up position, and receiving cheques of £200 from judge and chairman of the union's Agricultural, Education and Training committee, Alun Edwards, were farmers' sons 18-year-old Roger Williams of Presteigne, Powys, and 19-year-old Guto Siôn Owen of Foel Gadeiriau, Llangernyw, Abergele, who are both studying at Aberystwyth University.

Former presenter of S4C's Ffermio programme Sulwyn Thomas will be signing copies of his just-published autobiography on the Farmers' Union of Wales stand during next week's Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

The popular broadcaster will be on the union's stand behind the auctioneer's show ring position in the livestock complex building between 11am and noon on Tuesday, December 2.

Sulwyn is also renowned for his enthusiasm on the former BBC Radio Cymru programme "Stondin Sulwyn" and the same fervour is found in his new book as he recalls his fulfilling and busy life.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: "Sulwyn Thomas is a popular and well recognised person throughout Wales and he is still very proactive in Welsh cultural circles, especially in the Carmarthen area.

"But most of all he's an accomplished public speaker and a natural communicator and I'm sure this comes to the fore in his autobiography. ''Stondin Sulwyn'' broke new ground by bringing the people to the medium in every sense of the word and important issues were discussed by ordinary people as well as experts.

"However, the biggest appeal of the programme was, without a doubt, its lively presenter. The same liveliness runs through his book in which he tells about his memories in an interesting way and traces the history of his busy life."


ISBN: 9780860742524 (0860742520)
Publisher: Gwasg Gwynedd, Caernarfon

Format: Paperback, 182x123 mm, 224 pages

Price: £7.95

Farmers will be given the opportunity to give their opinion on the crucial issues affecting the industry including Bluetongue during next week's Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

The Farmers' Union of Wales is giving visitors to their stand at the Fair the chance to win a Christmas Hamper filled to the brim with prime Welsh produce, courtesy of bwyd blasus aeron fine foods, of Aberaeron by filling in a questionnaire.

All they have to do is spend a few minutes completing the survey seeking information about how Bluetongue is affecting farmers plus details about livestock stocking levels, diversification and investment plans.

Completed questionnaires will be entered into a free prize draw and the winner will be announced at the FUW stand in the main exhibition building at 4pm on Tuesday, December 2.

While filling in the questionnaires visitors are also welcome to enjoy free refreshments including Fair Trade coffee.

Farmers and other landowners will be encouraged to review their land ownership and make sure that they have it all registered if they visit the Farmers' Union of Wales' stand during next week's Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

Land Registry will be the guest of the FUW at the Fair next Monday and Tuesday (December 1 and 2) when visitors will be able to find out how to voluntarily register their property and benefit from the 25 per cent discount currently on offer.

Land Registry were also present on the FUW's stands at the World Sheepdog Trials and Pembrokeshire Show earlier this year.

The initiative is part of a drive by Land Registry - the government department responsible for registering land ownership in England and Wales - to seek people who own land and property.

Wales has amongst the lowest levels of land registration but voluntary land registration allows landowners to be in control of their assets and to manage them more effectively now and in the long-term.

Wyn and Pat Thomas have registered over 180 acres of land that they own and farm in the Llandeilo area, close to the venue of the 2008 World Sheepdog Trials at Dinefwr Park & Castle.

They were delighted to take advantage of the Land Registry scheme which means their land is now better protected against encroachment. Mr Thomas said they wanted to keep their family's affairs in order and felt that registering their land was a useful step towards doing this.

He also explained that the process was stress free. "It was quite easy, really. We saw in the press that Land Registry were offering a discount for the voluntary registration of land, and decided to find out more.

"We have owned the land since the mid 1960s, and therefore it was not covered by compulsory registration. It is good to know that no-one can now try to claim our land as theirs. We found the whole experience totally straightforward."

John and Myfanwy Evans, both aged 57, farm 700 acres of land around Dolgellau that has been in the family since 1777. They were delighted to take advantage of the Land Registry scheme which means their land is now safeguarded for future generations.

Mr and Mrs Evans said they wanted to keep their family's affairs in order and felt that registering their land was a useful step towards doing this.

"You hear all manner of stories about unscrupulous people registering land which does not actually belong to them, which could lead to lengthy and expensive legal battles. My husband's family has worked this land since the eighteenth century, and we want to make sure that we can hand it all on to our children," said Mrs Evans.

"Land Registry were really helpful, and made sure that we understood what was happening at every stage of the process. They sent us a number of letters to inform us how it was all going. We found the whole experience totally straightforward."

For more information call 0800 432 0432, email or visit the FUW's stand at the Winter Fair.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) and the Wales Fair Trade Forum (WFTF) have teamed up to promote fair prices for food producers in Wales and throughout the developing world.

Speaking at a joint FUW-WFTF press conference at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Llanelwedd, FUW president Gareth Vaughan said: "In June, Wales was officially declared the first ever Fair Trade Nation, and that is something we should all be proud of.

"However, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what needs to be done to ensure all producers are paid a fair price for their goods, allowing them to operate sustainably, regardless of where in the world they farm."

The FUW and WFTF are supporting the key message: "If you can't buy local produce, buy Fair Trade produce".

"This is an important message for farming families and the wider general public. We should all think before we buy," said Mr Vaughan.

"A farmer who wants a fair price for his lambs in the market should also want a fair price for coffee farmers in other countries. The two principles should go hand in hand."

Wales Fair Trade Forum board member Becky Webb said: "Wales being made the world's first Fair Trade Nation was the result of a campaign led by the Wales Fair Trade Forum and supported by the Welsh Assembly Government.

"We are now working to build upon that success, through an educational and awareness raising campaign, to support the creation of a bigger market for Fairtrade branded products, and to promote the general principles of fair trade in a world where unfair trading relationships are all too common - especially for smaller, local producers.

"Following this principle, we can all recognise ways of supporting small scale producers - whether in underdeveloped countries of the third world, or right here in Wales.

"There need be no conflict between buying Fairtrade and buying local produce. Buy local meat, dairy, and other products to support your local economy, and buy quality Fairtrade coffee, tea, fruit and other products that can't be grown locally to help Fairtrade producers in the developing world get a fair deal.

"In tough economic times like these, buying local and Fairtrade goods is a sure way to get quality products, at a fair price, while knowing that you are also supporting sustainable community and environmental development that impacts on all of us positively in the long-run."

In July 2007 the FUW launched its "Buy the Welsh One" campaign, targeted at promoting local procurement. It was revealed that a large number of FUW members and supporters were producing their own food and drink products.

"There is a growing number of farm-produced quality products now available at farmers' markets, corner shops, on the Internet and even at some supermarkets," said Mr Vaughan.

"But, sadly, the consumer may have to search painstakingly for such products in supermarkets although I know there is a growing awareness amongst these huge companies that they are morally bound to offer local products."

According to Defra figures released earlier this year, UK food self sufficiency fell in 2007 to 60 per cent, while 25 per cent of food purchased is imported when it could be produced in the UK.

In a joint statement, the FUW and WFTF state: "Buying locally produced goods supports your local farmers and the economy. It means you reconnect with the source of your food and will eat food when it's in season. It helps to keep down ''food miles'' and this also means that food will be fresher and healthier.

"The vast majority of Fairtrade products can't be produced in this country, so when doing your weekly shop buy locally where possible and when buying imported goods like tea and coffee, buy Fair Trade.

"By buying both locally grown and Fair Trade products consumers are choosing to give farmers a fair deal wherever they are."

Mr Vaughan added: "We are now entering the season of goodwill. That goodwill should extend to producers around the globe 365 days a year."

The Farmers' Union of Wales today called for increased support for the dairy industry following the announcement of wide-scale restructuring plans by the Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFB) co-operative.

The union's milk and dairy produce committee chairman Eifion Huws expressed bitter disappointment after the co-operative announced the proposed closure of two dairies in Staffordshire and Hampshire and a 2p per litre (ppl) reduction in milk prices to farmers back-dated to November 1.

"This is devastating news for all members of DFB and many will feel extreme anger at those who have been spreading malicious rumours which may have contributed to this situation.

"For some members the big reduction in milk price could be the last straw and the possible loss of 640 jobs would strike a major blow for their families."

DFB also propose ro rationalise distribution depots at Portsmouth, Cheshunt, Leeds and Lincoln and reduce "corporate headcount" at its offices in Nantwich and Blaydon.

The move makes DFB the first company to drop its price below 25ppl following a long overdue period of relative buoyancy in the milk market.

"It is vitally important that processors and supermarkets stand by the industry at this difficult time and do not let DFB's difficulties trigger a downward spiral," Mr Huws added.

"I firmly believe the Government should take urgent action to prevent this happening in order to secure jobs in the farming and processing industries. They have given tens of billions of taxpayers' money to the banks in order to promote fluidity.

"This is not happening and DFB's proposed restructuring is the sort of outcome that results from their apparent inactivity."

The Farmers' Union of Wales today called for a ban on animal imports from Bluetongue serotype 1 (BTV1) zones after the disease was found in five cattle imported from France on premises near Blackpool.

FUW President Gareth Vaughan said: "In February this year we called for a voluntary import ban in order to minimise the risk of introducing BTV8 and other strains of the disease, and we have already written to the European Commission calling for stricter rules in order to minimise the risk of importing disease. This is precisely the type of incident we were warning about."

The animals, which originated from within a BTV1 and 8 Restricted Zone in south west France, were confirmed as BTV1 positive following post-movement testing on the premises near Blackpool. The incident represents the first case of BTV1 detected in the UK.

The five animals - and one further animal which tested positive for an undetermined BTV serotype - were culled and the premises is now under restrictions whilst epidemiological investigations take place. It is understood the animals conformed to all the legal requirements and had been vaccinated against BTV1 more than 60 days before the movement occurred.

"The fact that the animals tested positive despite complying with the EC legislation underlines the risks of the current system, and the urgent need for the EU to react to our calls for stricter controls," said Mr Vaughan.

"If the EU imposes stricter movement rules then obviously they will apply to our own exports, as we are in a BTV zone. However, that implication is one we must accept as part of the cost of minimising the risks to our own livestock. We are now in a situation where Welsh farmers can vaccinate against BTV8, but that is not the case for BTV1."

In September, Mr Vaughan wrote to European Commissioner for animal health and welfare Androulla Vassiliou, calling for an urgent review of animal movement rules between Bluetongue protection zones. His letter stated that while the current focus remains on vaccinating and protecting against BTV8, the rapid spread of other strains - in particular BTV1 - is also a major cause for concern, given the current supplies of and demand for vaccine against all strains.

It added: "We believe that all movements of animals from high to low risk zones should be banned until sufficient time has passed to allow farmers to have vaccinated against the relevant strains of BTV, and for those vaccines to have taken effect.

"While we recognise that the movement of infected midges represents the major vector for the disease, livestock movements have the potential to introduce the disease into new areas that are hundreds or thousands of miles away from the original source of infection."

You are warmly invited to an FUW-organised meeting this Friday (November 28) at 11am at Old Court Farm Pandy, Abergavenny, NP7 7PH - by kind permission of Mr and Mrs C W Probert - when Monmouth MP David Davies and AM Nick Ramsay will be in attendance.

The questions to be raised will include the need for pre-movement testing of cattle for bovine TB as well other issues relating to the disease. Several questions are expected on EID, support for young farmers, the future of agri-environmental schemes and Axis 2 consultation, the future of livestock markets in Monmouthshire and red tape.

Local YFC representatives will be attending.


If you plan to attend the meeting please contact FUW Gwent County Executive Officer Glyn Davies on 01873 853280.

Your are warmly invited to a meeting this Thursday (November 27) at 3pm when a group of officials from Meirionnydd FUW will be meeting Sir John Houghton, one of the world's most authoritative experts on climate change, who lives at Aberdyfi.

The meeting will be held at the home of FUW county committee member David Roberts, of Trefrifawr Farm, Aberdyfi.

Sir John is a former chair of the scientific assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - 1988-2002. He is a Nobel Prize winner, and retired 13 years ago as head of the Met Office.

From 1991 to 1998 he was chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. He is the author of several books which include "Global Warming; the complete briefing".

The meeting will be a great opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities of climate change from an agricultural perspective in Wales. It has been stated that agriculture on an UK basis accounts for 7.5% of all UK emissions.

Amongst many issues to be discussed will be the recent creation of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, and the recent legally binding commitment by the UK to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.


If you plan to attend the meeting please contact FUW Meirionnydd County Executive Officer Huw Jones on 01341 422298.

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