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No magic bullet for improving lamb production, FUW farm visit told

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no magicIMPROVING the efficiency of lamb production was the main topic of discussion during a Farmers’ Union of Wales-organised visit to independent sheep consultant Catherine Nakielny’s Carmarthenshire family farm.

Dr Nakielny, of KN Consulting, farms 800 ewes at her home at Talley, near Llandeilo. She previously worked for a commercial sheep breeding company and various industry consultants following her studies at Aberystwyth University where she completed an Animal Science BSc and PhD on Breeding Sheep for Resistance to Roundworms.

A Nuffield Scholar, she is chairman of the FUW’s animal health and welfare committee, the union’s Carmarthenshire county chairman, sits on the NSA Welsh committee and represents Wales on the NSA UK policy and technical committee.

She is also a Wales representative for the Moredun Research Institute, was a member of Farming Connect’s Agri Academy 2012 Rural Leadership Programme and received the National Sheep Association Cymru/Wales Award 2012.

She is a technical sheep specialist covering a variety of sheep production issues, has been involved in the sheep industry for over 15 years and has been working as an independent sheep consultant for the last five years.

Over this period she has been involved in a number of research and demonstration projects ranging from sheep breeding and genetic improvement to parasite control and winter forage costs.

In 2011 she was awarded a Nuffield scholarship and has since visited a number of countries including Ireland, New Zealand and Australia studying lamb production systems and new opportunities for improving flock profitability.

She studied the role of efficiency in reducing methane emissions from lamb production due to concerns that the climate change debate would lead to calls for a reduction in livestock numbers.

However, following a meeting with leading scientists and policy makers, it is clear that the need to produce more food to feed a growing population means that the focus will in the future lie with increasing efficiency of production and “sustainable intensification”.

Dr Nakielny has a particular interest in improving the efficiency of lamb production. She said:

“Whilst there is need to improve efficiency of production and much talk about sustainability, the future of lamb production lies in the ability of individual producers to create profitable businesses. Without this there is no sustainability.

“Policy makers and scientists have a role to play in supporting research and creating a framework in which producers can operate effectively but ultimately profitability results from taking control of an individual business and making the most of market opportunities and meeting the needs of consumers.

“Lamb is already a high value product on the shelves so we can’t expect to see rapid increases in what we receive for lamb so we need to think about the things we can control. There is no magic bullet and I believe that profitability will come from tackling a range of issues which currently reduce profitability.

“Risk management will also become increasingly important as well as being able to react to changing conditions based on a clear understanding of what drives the business.”

Dr Nakielny is therefore working with a number of producers to develop monitoring and benchmarking systems as well as working with Farming Connect to develop the Know Your Flock+ benchmarking groups.

Looking to promote innovation in the sector, Dr Nakielny has also developed The Ram Shop, a unique marketing tool for ram breeders as well as working on a number of tools to help with the monitoring and benchmarking of sheep flocks.

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RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?

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IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).

The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.

You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:

• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired

Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.

The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.

Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.

“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”

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Success for Dyfed-Powys Police in targeting drugs suppliers in Ceredigion

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A drugs supplier in the Ceredigion area has been sentenced to 2 years and 2 months in prison.

Kylie Mason, 34, from Aberaeron, was arrested on the 28th October 2019, and later charged with 2 offences of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug and two offences of supply a controlled drug of Class A. She pleaded guilty at court and received a total sentence of two years and two months in prison on the 8th January.

Detective Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This is an excellent result for the Aberaeron community, who had raised concerns about this individual supplying drugs in the area. I hope this will serve as a warning to others who wish to bring drugs into the Ceredigion area that it will not be tolerated. This result will go a long way towards keeping our communities safe. If anyone is worried about drugs in their community I would urge them to contact police as we will take the appropriate action.”

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