Rhymney Valley beef and sheep farmer Brian Bowen opened the doors to Pencoedcae farm to discuss important #FarmingMatters with Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM Dawn Boden.
Brian, who is the Farmers’ Union of Wales Policy Delegate for South Wales farms 2000 breeding ewes and around 150 suckler cows on the 1250 acre (rented and owned land) at, Princetown, Tredegar, along with his father, mother and his son.
Speaking at the visit Brian Bowen said: “Farm businesses, and family farms in particular, are an essential part of the economic, social, and cultural fabric of Wales.
“Welsh food production sustains tens of thousands of other businesses – from upstream businesses such as feed merchants, agricultural contractors and engineers, to downstream businesses such as hauliers, processors and retailers.
“Farmers are an exceptional conduit for money, so if their businesses are thriving they reinvest and this, in turn, brings wealth to second and third sector businesses and the wider rural economy.”
Farmers and FUW representatives on the day further stressed that irrespective of what trade deals are in place post-Brexit, within the UK, Welsh farmers will compete against their counterparts in other devolved regions.
“It is critical that everyone understands just how much #FarmingMatters and I would like to thank the businesses who came to join us here and echoed that sentiment.
“Following the downturn in agriculture over recent times and across almost all sectors, it is critical that we acknowledge the importance of a thriving agricultural sector on the economy – both locally and much further afield. ”
Dawn Boden further heard that around 60,000 people are employed on farm holdings in Wales, in addition to the thousands employed in businesses which are reliant on agriculture such as contractors, feed and machinery merchants, mechanics etc.
“The wider contributions to our economy are also well documented, for example, in terms of tourism, while agriculture has been acknowledged as the single most significant contributor to an estimated £1.9 billion worth of wildlife based activity in Wales per annum (Mabis, 2007), the Welsh countryside, managed by farmers, provides the backdrop for the tourism industry worth over £2.5 Billion,” added Brian Bowen.
The visit was joined by a variety of local businesses and common land associations, including John Richards of The Prince of Wales pub, Price Farm Supplies, T Alun Jones Machinery, Neil Davies of PMR, Bowketts Feeds, Rees Agri, Clee Tompkinson and Francis Estate Agents, Land Agent Chris Smith, Llangynidr Commons Secretary Colin Greeves, and Merthyr Gelligaer Commons Chairman Huw Williams.
Dawn Bowden, Welsh Labour Assembly Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney said: “I am grateful to the FUW for inviting me to Pencoedcae Farm to meet with farmers and representatives of local business which are heavily reliant on farming.
“It was helpful to hear at first hand the challenges facing the farming industry, particularly in the context of the many uncertainties surrounding Brexit. The discussions brought home in very clear terms that “farming matters”, and I look forward to working with organisations like the FUW, alongside farmers and businesses in my constituency as we face the challenges ahead.”