Convincing politicians of the desperately urgent need to get sufficient
supplies of Blue Tongue vaccine into Wales is the top priority
for new NSA Cymru Wales Chair, Margaret Dalton. Margaret, who farms
near Lampeter, says the situation is extremely ‘scary’.
She claims that the disease is spreading at an alarming rate in
Northern Europe and during a time when low midge activity should
mean it is dormant. The extreme seriousness of the threat facing
Welsh sheep producers was a point she stressed to the Minister
for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, recently and will be repeatedly
bringing to the attention of the Welsh Assembly Government.
"Blue Tongue is the really big issue", she says. "Getting
enough vaccine into Wales, and quickly enough, is the top priority.
It’s really scary the way it’s coming across Europe.
"I’ve had figures showing that in January alone there
were 107 new cases in Northern France, 362 were notified in Germany
between 28 December and 11 January and the first case occurred
in Spain on January 10. We need the vaccine and we need it now."
Margaret, who is busily lambing 450 Lleyn and Lleyn Cross ewes
at her 320 acre farm, Gelligarneddau, Llangybi, also has two marketing
issues to address. She wants ‘Smokies’ legalised and
says that the sale of sheepmeat with the skin on should be established
as a niche market for Welsh farmers, instead of being forced underground
again. And she is pressing for wool to be processed into insulation
material here in Wales, as it is in Ireland.
Awarded NFU Woman Farmer of the year in 2000 and the OBE in 2001,
Margaret Dalton also represents many other organisations and keeps
80 suckler cows.
The new Vice Chairman is John Lloyd who farms a hill farm at Cynghordy
between Builth Wells and Llandovery. He has farmed there for the
past 30 years and keeps 250 ewes.
John was recently chosen to take part in the HCC EID trials along
with other farms in Wales. He is the Wales officer for the British
Trust for Ornithology.
NSA Cymru/Wales Development Officer, Helen Davies, said the AGM
was followed by a talk and presentation on Bluetongue, given by
Chief ExecutivePeter Morris. The debate centred on how the vaccination
programme will work and how we can best stay ahead of the disease
as the season goes on.
The meeting with Elin Jones Minster for Rural Affairs in Wales
was held at Anthony Mears farm near Brecon. Also present were Margaret
Dalton, Huw Jones, Painscastle.
"We covered many issues with the Minster but highlighted
the struggle young farmers have to start or even stay in the industry",
"The Minister is looking at a New Entrants Scheme and a consultation
will be produced later on in the year. We have had a consultation
to respond to on the Single Farm Payment with regard to Wales staying
on historic payments or going to a flat rate system, which will
eventually happen in time to come, the concerns around this were
also discussed with the Minister".
Agneau Presto - To The Rescue
Beef and Sheep Supply to Tighten
Lower Supplies Likely for Sheepmeat in 2008