Wales politics

New rules on moving livestock 'disastrous' for farm shows


New rules for moving livestock will be "disastrous" for small agricultural shows, the Farmers Union of Wales said.

Farmers said the Welsh Government's new rules on the movement of livestock are too strict and too expensive.

From 10 June, farmers have to register a quarantine unit (QU) on their farm in order to move livestock on and off, and avoid six-day standstill rules.

The Welsh Government said the system was developed in partnership with the farming industry.

Currently, if farmers bring new stock on to their farm, the whole farm is subject to a six-day lockdown, where no animals can be moved off.

But there are exemptions for seasonal events like agricultural shows.

A field or a shed separated from other livestock, known as an approved isolation unit, can be used to avoid the rules.

But these isolation units cannot be used after 10 June and farmers must apply and pay for the new quarantine units.

Image copyright Chris Jackson/Getty Images

There are 61 rules as part of the new system, which include installing double gates and double fences, as well as wearing specialised clothing.

The fee is £172.80 for one QU and £244.80 for two.

Farmer Gwilym Jones, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, said: "It makes no sense to show, it's not worth it. The rules are going backwards instead of forwards."

And Geraint Jones, from Ystrad Meurig, said: "I will break the law, and if they want to put me in jail, they can - I've got nothing to lose.

"If they want to kill the countryside, they're doing the right thing."

Sian Davies, who shows her texel sheep around the country, said the new changes "cost money, they're a nuisance and they increase paperwork".

She said the Welsh Government "don't know what's going on. I called the office in Aberystwyth and they didn't know what I was referring to".

Geraint Jones said he had a similar experience with the offices in Cardiff and Carmarthen.

The Welsh Government has not confirmed there are delays in the registration process.

Brian Walters, vice-president of Farmers Union of Wales, said: "This is disastrous for smaller agricultural shows.

"We don't feel there is enough evidence to indicate that diseases are passed between livestock at agricultural shows to justify such draconian measures."

In England the changes to the rules have been delayed until the autumn, avoiding the show season.

In a statement, the Welsh Government said: "The new QU system was designed to simplify the standstill regime and provide extra flexibility whilst maintaining disease movement curbs.

"It was developed in partnership with the farming industry.

"Although QUs can be used to manage movements to and from shows it is important to note they are intended to be used for all types of animal movement, not just for shows.

"The alternative arrangements to the six-day standstill were developed at the request of the industry (through the Working Smarter review) and in close collaboration with the industry through the LIDAG (Livestock Identification Advisory Group) over the past few years - not rushed, worked through systematically, and collaboratively, with the support of Independent Veterinary Risk Assessments."

It said the recommendations were published in January 2012 and the Welsh Government had written to everyone in the industry twice, in April and May 2017, in addition to an extensive communications campaign.