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Sunday, 28 September 2008

Visit to farms in Northumberland

Northumberland is an agriculturally diverse county benefiting from a lower rainfall that allows it to produce substantial quantities of livestock and grain. The DEFRA website gives a good description of its agricultural qualities, its the mixed farming that allows farmers to focus on livestock farming using home or locally produced grain. What impressed me most was the way in which farmers were focussed on the qualities required for the marketplace with each farmer using elements of the following receipe:-

  • Only buy breeding livestock of the highest quality capable of producing what the market requires;
  • Maintain high health status at all times and minimise inter flock/herd contacts;
  • Decide on a marketing plan that encompasses livestock breeding, accurate selection for the market, sale feedback and review;

The first two are part of common practice but the last two are not. The best exponent of the 'story to tell' is Steve Ramshaw and is a superb case study. The added value he produces from his farm is the result of high quality livestock, first class management techniques, a tightly managed slaughter process with emphasis on quality control, and selling to a predetermined sales story and ideal. There are excellent stockmen in Wales but we could learn a few tricks from these marketing farmers up in the North East.

Agriculture Minister’s EID stance supported.

Penri James, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster candidate, has lent his support to the growing campaign against the European Union’s intention to introduce Electronic Identification (EID) tags for sheep and goats throughout member states.

Plaid Cymru’s Minister for Rural Affairs and Ceredigion AM, Elin Jones, has already stated that she does not agree with EID but that it is likely to be pushed through by other EU countries.
Plaid Cymru has been campaigning to scrap these proposed regulations with Jill Evans MEP recently joining Scottish and Irish counterparts to launch a campaign against the plans.

In support of the campaign, Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:

“I am very supportive of the campaign being led by Plaid Cymru against these proposed electronic tags and I hope that the European Council will a take the opposition to this regulation into account. I fear that this will be a costly project to implement and individual farmers will bear the expense.

“During the recent Plaid Cymru Conference, I discussed this matter with our European MP, Jill Evans, and I know that she will be pressing the case for EID to be scrapped in Brussels. However, as Elin Jones AM stated, despite gaining concessions in the negotiations so far, there is little support to put EID on hold among other EU states”.

The dilema facing Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, is that a failure to implement legislation passed in Brussels would lead to financial as well as other penalties on Welsh farmers. First among these would be a top slicing of Single Payments as a defacto fine. This is clearly an unwise an unacceptable route to take. The battle for some derogation powers lies in Brussels and I hope they will gain some success. Common sense over the ages has seen sheep being managed on a batch and flock basis, there is no need to change this sensible operational policy.

This is an example of how they look (from )

Vet School in Aberystwyth

There has been a bit of interest in this idea, I have done an interview for Dei Tomos on Radio Cymru 27-9-2008 and an item is pending for the Veterinary Times. The original comments were reported in the Cambrian News.

Plaid Cymru Ceredigion candidate calls for National Veterinary School in Aberystwyth.

Penri James, Plaid Cymru's Westminster candidate for Ceredigion, yesterday (Thursday) called for a national veterinary school to be established in Wales.

During his keynote speech at the Plaid Cymru Conference, Penri James demanded any development to be located at Aberystwyth.

Prior to his speech, Plaid Cymru's Penri James said:

"In Wales, we currently educate our young people to become doctors and teachers. We lack the ability to train students to become a vet. As part of Plaid Cymru’s New Welsh Agenda, we should seek to establish our first ever veterinary school in Wales – Aberystwyth, in particular, would be an ideal location for such a development."

"Given the importance of the agricultural industry in Wales a national Veterinary School would be very welcome. The numbers of graduates in this field are already substantially below the Royal Veterinary College's targets, particularly in relation to the numbers which are able to treat farm animals.

"Now that the once-threatened IGER has become integrated into Aberystwyth University, a new Veterinary College would complement the expertise already on offer at Aberystwyth. This would certainly bring significant educational benefits for Wales and would boost the local economy in Ceredigion. However, a new Veterinary School will need cross party support at all levels of government. I believe that Plaid Cymru lead and deliver this aspiration”.

Reported in the Western Mail 11-9-2008 and BBC 11-9-2008

Plaid ensures that the voices of Welsh Fisherman are heard.

Plaid Cymru's agriculture minister Elin Jones yesterday (Thursday) joined with Jill Evans MEP and Plaid parliamentary candidate for Ceredigion, Penri James, to meet local fishermen and listen to concerns for the future of the local seafood industry. The group met on Aberystwyth’s quay on the opening day of the party’s annual conference which is being held in the town.
Elin Jones AM said:

“The resources we have in Wales ’ seas are of great importance, and our fishing fleet is an essential element of the food production industry. I am proud that Aberystwyth, and Ceredigion as a whole, is such an excellent showcase for the rich diversity of our food production industry. This is something that I hope to highlight to Plaid members from across Wales as they arrive in the town for this year’s conference”.

Jill Evans MEP said:

“With a Plaid Rural Affairs Minister in the Assembly and with my own work as an MEP, Wales now has a strong voice for our food production industry in Europe – and people in the fishing industry know how important that is. We no longer have to rely on London ministers to understand the challenges we face, and then only hope that they take these to the European stage on our behalf. Alongside Elin, I’ve been able to fight for our agricultural and rural communities in Europe”.

Plaid Cymru Candidate for Ceredigion, Penri James said:

“In this area, pot fishermen have had a difficult time because of the practices of some of the scallop fishermen. I’ve asked Elin to intervene in an effort to come up with an arrangement that will ensure the viability of all types of fishing. Both Elin and Jill are fully engaged with the needs of the industry”.

Monday, 22 September 2008

MEP says NO to compulsory electronic tagging for sheep

Plaid MEP Jill Evans is joining forces with other MEPs in the European Parliament to amend European Commission plans for compulsory electronic tagging of sheep (EID). The MEPs are launching a cross party campaign in Brussels today (Tuesday) in an attempt to force the European Commission to rethink its plans.They have put forward a written declaration to the European Parliament (similar to an Early Day Motion at Westminster) for sheep EID to be voluntary and not compulsory and they are asking other MEP's to sign.Speaking from Brussels ahead of the launch, the Plaid MEP said:"Farmers are telling me quite clearly that they are totally opposed to this plan for compulsory electronic tagging."For the 41% of farms in Wales that are sheep producers, the scheme would be costly to implement and would simply be impractical. The technology used for EID seems to have many flaws; trials have shown difficulties operating the IT system in different weather conditions which would prove particularly more challenging for upland farmers in Wales."This scheme is unworkable and unnecessary."The Welsh farming unions are also opposed to the scheme and I hope that by getting support from them and other MEP's on this issue we will be able to send a clear message to the Commission."In the European Parliament a written declaration needs to be signed by a majority of members within three months in order to be recorded in the official minutes as the Parliament's position and communicated to other relevant EU institutions.

Ceredigion AM supports £4.8m Cadwgan lottery bid.

Elin Jones AM yesterday (Wednesday) attended the launch of Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust’s bid for £4.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund in order to fund the restoration of Cardigan Castle.
The announcement that the funding application had been submitted was made by the Chair of Cadwgan Trust, Jann Tucker, during a reception at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.

Following the reception on the ‘maes’, Ceredigion AM Elin Jones – who has supported the Trust’s lottery application – said:

“It is very fitting that the announcement on the submission of a lottery bid to restore Cardigan Castle – the site of the very first Eisteddfod – was made at this year’s National Eisteddfod. This is a very ambitious project which will be of great benefit for Cardigan and the whole of West Wales once it is completed.

“I was pleased to be invited to back the application for funding and I hope that a further announcement will be made in the near future on the bid’s progress, in the hope that re-opening the Castle and its grounds to the public can finally become a reality by the target date of 2012”.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster candidate, Penri James, also attended the reception at the National Eisteddfod and added:

“I know that Cardigan’s residents are especially proud of their longstanding association with our national Eisteddfod tradition. It’s therefore only fitting that the location of Lord Rhys’ first Eisteddfod is properly restored and become a centre celebrating our national heritage”.