“New measures to crack down on livestock worrying, through the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, will come as a relief for farmers who have suffered attacks on their livestock in recent years,” says NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman, Wyn Evans.

Introduced this week (June 8), the improved powers in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will afford the police powers to respond to livestock worrying incidents more effectively and follows years of campaigning by the union.

Wyn Evans said: “I know from my own experience that dog attacks on livestock have a devastating impact on farmers and their families, and I’m hearing of more and more incidences across Wales of dogs being spotted off a lead and chasing sheep.

“The current Act has been inadequate for many years, therefore I’m pleased to see the government taking clear action to strengthen the law, especially now when dog ownership has increased dramatically throughout the pandemic.

“NFU Cymru has been raising the impacts of dog attacks for many years and during a recent campaign nearly 20,000 people from across the UK recently signed an open letter to support changes to legislation.

“However, we would like to see the government go further in this area and implement increased fines. This can act as an appropriate deterrent and would also reflect the financial loss to the farm business as a result of an attack.

“We would also like to see a clear rule that dogs should always be on a lead around livestock. We believe the current wording that a dog has to be under ‘close control’ around livestock causes confusion for dog owners, farmers and the police.”

The Bill also bans the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter, which raises questions about how the government will ensure trade deals also meet these standards.

Wyn continued:?“Welsh farmers pride themselves on producing the highest quality food through world-leading environmental and welfare standards, however the government must consider how our standards set at home will be balanced when striking new trade deals.

“Trade negotiations with countries such as Australia, who export large numbers of animals for fattening and slaughter, must be considered very carefully. If we set standards here in the UK, then those standards must be reciprocated in any deals we make with other countries.

“We are not against free trade agreements, but future trade deals must not put our food production at a competitive disadvantage. We are asking for a level playing field, so our high standards are not undercut by those who do not meet the same credentials.”