Posted: Sat 11th Nov 2023

Flintshire dairy farmer says Net zero doesn’t have to mean empty cupboards

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Nov 11th, 2023

A dairy farmer from North Flintshire has raised his concern for the industry with leader of Plaid Cymru Rhun ap Iorwerth and North Wales regional Member of the Senedd Llyr Gruffydd at a recent farm visit, saying that net zero targets don’t have to mean empty cupboards.

Dei Davies farms along with his wife Heulwen and son Rhys, around 100 acres at Moor Farm, Holywell, a county council dairy holding on rent on a 15 year tenancy on 73 acres, with 27 owned, and a further 100 acres as temporary rented land for silage and grazing. 120 milking cows , about 80 young stock, spring calving system.

Hot topics covered during the farm visit included the Control of Agriculture Pollution Regulations, the Habitat Wales Scheme, the Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals and bovine TB.

Speaking after the visit, Dai Davies said:

“Our fear is that tree planting targets and the Control of Agriculture Pollution Regulations mean that we will have to reduce stocking rates. That would mean we’d be looking at milking about 60 cows only. We’d have to reduce the heifers for sure. In effect that would mean we’re less profitable because of the reduced income. Put that across all of Wales and the Welsh dairy industry would only lose ⅓ of milk production.

“All that money the Welsh Government has invested in dairies such as Mona dairies and Pembrokeshire Creamery are wasted if we can’t keep them going with milk.

Reduced stocking rates and lost income, means people will go out of business. If they get it wrong now, you can’t fix it after.Net zero ambitions don’t have to mean empty cupboards if we get it right.”

Discussing the Control of Agriculture Pollution Regulations, Mr Davies told Rhun ap Iorwerth and Llyr Gruffydd that the planning system in place doesn’t allow farmers to move at a pace that keeps them in line with the regulations.

“The planning system doesn’t work and it takes far too long. From getting a quote for having a new slurry system built, to actually getting the right permissions, the quotes are out of date and double.

“For this to work, we need to look at the closed period and do what farmers have done for centuries – look at the weather. If the forecast is unsuitable we must work with that. The technology is there to support data driven decision making. We shouldn’t be farming by calendar.”

Addressing the issue of bovine TB he said:

“Bovine Tb is obviously a massive concern for all of us. We’re a clean herd here, despite being in an intermediate area. We never had bovine tb and are lucky for now. If it comes, it will be a disaster but there’s not much we can do about it. As we’re grazing farm, if our badgers become unwell we’ll know about it.”

FUW deputy president Dai Miles said:

“It was good to discuss some of the very big challenges with our elected politicians. Farmers, from all sectors, are facing so many challenges and we need the Welsh Government to support us for the sake of our countryside, family farms, the economy and of course food security.”

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