By Debbie James

The organiser of Wales’ biggest farming event has stepped in to defend the future of the country’s agricultural shows as concern mounts over the impacts of new rules controlling livestock movements.

Quarantine units (QUs), launched in September 2018 as an alternative to the six-day standstill rule and costing between £172.80 and £244.80 for 18 months, have taken their toll on agricultural shows, with fewer livestock entries and, in some breed categories, no entries at all.

The situation has prompted the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) to intervene.

At the annual Welsh regional conference of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO), the new regulations and their impact on shows was discussed with the chief veterinary officer for Wales, Professor Christianne Glossop, a speaker at the event.

As a result, the RWAS has sent a questionnaire to all shows across Wales and the Borders, big and small.

The RWAS spokesman says it felt it had a responsibility to support other shows and had been happy to take the lead to instigate and conduct this survey.

“With exhibitors torn between supporting community-led shows and the larger reaching events, both types of events are suffering greatly and, with livestock as the heart of all agriculture events within Wales, the regulations are having a detrimental effect,’’ said the spokesman.

“The feedback received will be presented to Professor Glossop for consideration.’’

There are currently 137 units in Wales.

QUs replace a previous system of approved isolation facilities which, according to the Welsh Government, had lacked acceptable levels of biosecurity, were not subject to inspection by the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the rules around exemptions to movement rules had been complex and difficult to understand.

“QUs require farmers to meet clear criteria to ensure maximum levels of biosecurity are maintained,’’ said a government spokesman.

But the government has confirmed that it is conducting a ‘milestone review’ of the QU scheme.

“This will focus on the current operational rules and requirements of the scheme and will provide us with an understanding of how QUs are functioning in the rural community.

“We will also be holding a stakeholder event with key show and union officials to gather feedback from the farming industry.”