SHOWS throughout Wales have been given a reprieve after a change of heart by the Welsh Government.

Animal movement rules which threatened the viability of livestock exhibitors in Wales attending multiple agricultural shows this summer are on hold for three months following pressure from the farming industry.

Instead of introducing quarantine units (QU) and a £201.60 fee on June 12, the Welsh Government has agreed to delay it until September 11, following “discussions with key farming and stakeholder organisations’’.

It is the second time the government has changed its mind on this policy; initially it was set to come into force on June 10.

But, with agricultural shows including Aberystwyth taking place on that date, the government agreed to a two-day delay.

The livestock secretary of Aberystwyth Show, Michaela Devereux, said there had been a big spike in entries since the two-day delay was announced.

“People have been getting in touch asking if it is too late to submit an entry,’’ she said.

She insisted that the latest change of heart – the three-month delay – was a necessary development.

But she is concerned that the cost associated with setting up a QU would be evident at shows like Aberystwyth next year.

The £201.60 fee will be levied on a single unit and will be payable every 18 months.

Since 2001, farmers could comply with the six-day standstill rule – designed to control the spread of disease – by establishing an isolation unit at no cost.

The Welsh Government is now replacing this system with QUs and charging farmers who apply to create these.

“The rules in themselves are not too bad but the cost is a big concern. If people can’t afford it they can’t afford it,’’ said Ms Devereux.

“Livestock are a big attraction, visitors come to see the cattle and the sheep. For some it might be the only opportunity they get to see them up close.

“It represents a vital link between farming and the public.’’

Whilst the rules regarding QUs are stricter than for isolation facilities, it will be possible to use QUs for all animal movements rather than for only breeding and show animals, meaning there will be a way of reducing the impact of the six-day standstill during busy trading periods.

Both the Farmers’ Union of Wales and NFU Cymru described the delay as “welcome and pragmatic’’ and said it would minimise disruption to shows this summer.