The Farmers’ Union of Wales and NFU Cymru have slammed the Welsh Government’s rush to introduce new quarantine units (QUs) to deal with the Six Day Standstill rule – just four weeks after first writing to farmers about the changes.
Though supportive of the principle behind the new rules, which should allow farmers to buy and sell animals in the same week while continuing to prevent the spread of disease, both unions have expressed grave concerns about high costs, additional red tape and the tight timescale Cardiff is insisting on.
Farmers will have to shell out £172.80 every 18 months to certify the new units, as well as paying establishment costs which could run into the tens of thousands. Existing isolation facilities are free to use.
It is also feared those with poor broadband connections will be unable to comply with some of the new rules, such as 24-hour mandatory reporting of all movements into QUs.
Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts said: “We have asked for the implementation date to be moved to the autumn to allow more time for people to understand the new system and get certified, and to avoid the main show period.”
The Welsh Government has already delayed the introduction date from June 10 to June 12 because of concerns the new rules would put farmers off attending agricultural shows, but this has been deemed an inadequate response.
Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru’s livestock board chairman, said: “If we had a straightforward and cost-effective system, we would have a massive take-up across Wales.
“Now we have got a really complicated system, people are not going to take it up. There has been a massive opportunity lost here to tidy up the six-day rule.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said it was ‘slightly surprising’ the Cabinet Secretary had received last minute representations from industry after working together to develop the changes, but Mr Evans claimed the unions were told nothing at all about the added complications.
The spokesman added: “The Cabinet Secretary is giving her urgent consideration to these representations and will make her intentions clear in the coming days.”