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Farming

Bird flu restrictions end

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Restrictions end: Keepers urged to maintain vigilance

THE CABINET Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has announced the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which expired on April 30, will not be replaced.

The Cabinet Secretary has taken this decision based on an updated veterinary risk assessment conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). However, the temporary suspension on gatherings of some species of birds will remain as additional evidence is considered.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “Last December I declared the whole of Wales an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in response to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 outbreaks being reported across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. This was a precautionary measure to minimise the risk of poultry and other captive birds being infected by wild birds.

“We have been closely monitoring this situation and APHA has been preparing updated outbreak risk assessments.

The most recent evidence-based veterinary risk assessment concluded there remains a Low – Medium risk of resident wild waterfowl being infected with H5N8. Meanwhile, the exposure assessment risk for poultry farms is Low, but heightened, and will depend on the biosecurity measures on each farm. This level is consistent with November 2016, when disease was present across Europe in sporadic outbreaks and occasional wild bird findings were being reported.

“Therefore, I am pleased to announce, following the expiry of the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 30 April, this will not be replaced. Whilst I am sure this is welcome news it is important to remember avian influenza remains a constant and real threat to our poultry and other captive birds.”

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, added: “I would like to stress the need for all keepers of poultry and other domestic captive birds to remain alert for signs of the disease and to contact their private veterinarians if they have any concerns. If anyone suspects disease they should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.

“It is essential all keepers maintain effective biosecurity practices, such as considering and updating self-assessment forms, cleansing and disinfecting all clothing, equipment and vehicles (using approved disinfectants) and implementing effective pest control measures to minimise the opportunities of contact between their birds and wild birds and wild life.

“We can all play a part in supporting the ongoing surveillance by reporting any findings of dead wild birds to the GB helpline on 03459 335577. In particular, any wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey and where more than five birds of any species are found dead in the same location. We must also ensure we all comply and respect the biosecurity measures put in place by poultry or other captive bird keepers.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all poultry keepers with 50 birds or more they must register their flocks on the Poultry Register and strongly encourage all poultry keepers, including those with fewer than 50 birds, to register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in an avian disease outbreak enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.

“If poultry or other captive birds are being let outside after a prolonged period of being housed I would recommend keepers consult their private veterinarian on the health impacts.”

Meanwhile the UK Government’s last remaining bird flu control measures in England – including the ban on poultry gatherings – will be lifted on Monday, May 15, Defra’s Chief Vet announced on Friday (April 28).

With the lifting of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), bird keepers will no longer be required by law to follow specific disease prevention measures, intended to reduce the risk of highlight pathogenic H5N8 bird flu passing from wild birds to domestic flocks. However, Defra officials said keepers should continue to follow industry standard best practice on biosecurity, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors.

A ban on gatherings featuring at-risk bird species, including waterfowl and poultry has been in place since December, when migrating wild birds brought a spate of H5N8 cases to Western Europe. The outbreaks had a devastating effect on the poultry industry in South West France, where birds in three departments had to be culled to prevent further spread of the disease after it was transferred from farm-to-farm. The ban will be lifted in England on May 15, meaning bird gatherings can then resume, subject to some additional identity and health checks and biosecurity measures.

According to the latest risk assessment from Defra’s advisors, the overall risk of another H5N8 outbreak in the UK has fallen from ’medium’ to ‘low’, comparable with risk levels in November 2016, and should continue to fall in warmer, drier spring weather conditions.

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Farming

MP pledges support to British farmers

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MORE than 4,000 jobs in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire rely on farming, Simon Hart MP learned during a special event to Back British Farming.

Farming in the constituency contributes £30.6 million to the local economy – on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and the British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The Back British Farming event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Mr Hart said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

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Farming

MP signs pledge to Back British Farming

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STEPHEN CRABB MP has recognised the vital role that Pembrokeshire farmers have contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster this week.

Farming in Pembrokeshire contributes £32.6 million to the local economy and provides 4,570 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other local industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to support the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign in Parliament.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

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Farming

Backing Welsh farming at PMQs

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Speaking out for Welsh agriculture: Jonathan Edwards

PLAID CYMRU MP Jonathan Edwards has championed NFU Cymru’s Back Welsh Farming campaign during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP used economic data highlighting the financial contribution of farming to Wales, provided by NFU Cymru, to challenge Prime Minister Theresa May on the future trade prospects for Welsh farmers once the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on September 13 – Back British Farming Day – Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards MP said: “Today is also Back Welsh Farming Day and NFU Cymru estimates that agriculture contributes 60,000 jobs in Wales, as well as half a billion pounds. How will farming be able to continue that contribution once the International Trade Secretary opens up domestic markets to lower food standards whilst simultaneously losing access to our main export market?”

In response, Prime Minister Theresa May stated she was pleased to support farmers in Wales. The Prime Minster said that the Government was looking to leave the European Union with ‘a good trade deal that will continue to enhance trade to take place on a basis that is as friction-free and tariff-free as possible’. She also expressed her belief that exiting the European Union will present Welsh farmers with opportunities to export their produce across the rest of the world.

Jonathan Edwards MP was one of a number of Welsh MPs wearing specially-designed wheat and wool pin badges to show support for the NFU’s Back British Farming Day.

The campaign saw farmers from across Wales write to their MP to highlight why farming is so important to their constituency and Wales as a whole.

NFU Cymru President Stephen James said: “The contribution of food and farming to Wales is extremely important. It is critical to have the support of MPs recognising the value of the sector. Across Wales, farming underpins food production, the countryside and the rural economy. For the future of the nation’s farming sector, the support of politicians is crucial to ensure that our industry receives the best deal possible after Brexit.

“We are grateful to all the Welsh MPs who wore their wheat and wool pin badges to champion the cause of farmers back home in Wales. It was fantastic to see so many MPs showing their support for the industry. We are particularly grateful to Jonathan Edwards for raising his question to the Prime Minister today – it is important that we have voices in the House of Commons who are willing to raise the profile of Welsh farming and champion our cause.”

Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards, said: “Sadly in her answer to me the Prime Minister talks of fantasy trade deals around the world, forgetting that a staggering 90% of Welsh food and drink export produce goes to EU countries. This isn’t going to be replaced overnight.”

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