A national charity with 150 years service of support for people working within the farming industry and a Powys farmer were presented with awards recognising their contribution to Welsh agriculture during today's Farmers' Union of Wales annual general meeting.

This year The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) - who received the union's annual "External Award" - commemorates 150 years of unbroken support for the farming community and Bryan Jones - who plays an active role in the FUW at county and national level - was presented with the union's "Internal Award".

Since it was founded RABI has helped many thousands of Welsh farmers, farm workers and their families in times of need and last year, in Wales alone, it spent £282,103 on beneficiaries - almost 10 times more than the total fund-raising income of £29,368 from Welsh counties.

Nationally, in 2008 RABI paid grants totalling £1.6m to 1,503 retired and disabled beneficiaries including 184 working families who received a total of £287,758 either to relieve severe hardship or through the Gateway project.

RABI's formation can be traced back to a letter written to The Times in 1859 by Essex farmer John Mechi who appealed to all farmers to link themselves together as volunteer canvassers. He wrote: "Not profit but charity is the mainspring of your efforts and desire to help those who are helpless, comfort those who are comfortless and support the aged, shelter the homeless and befriend and instruct the innocent and unprotected orphans..."

Today RABI continues as custodian of that vision. Every year it provides around 1,000 Christmas hampers to beneficiaries and continues to support elderly couples, widows, widowers and people of any age who are disabled, along with families struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Jones has farmed at Coed y Parc, Caersws, since 1973 when he took over the tenanted dairy holding. He also farmed in partnership with his parents at Cefn Farm, Hyssington, and both farms are now run in partnership with his wife Susan and their son Andrew.

They run a 70-cow pedigree Friesian Holstein herd plus followers and a flock of 300 Texel and North Cheviot X ewes.

Mr Jones first became a delegate on the FUW's milk and dairy produce committee in 1988, serving as chairman, from 1990 to 1994, at a time of major change with the break up of the then Milk Marketing Board.

As a tenant farmer, he was FUW Montgomeryshire branch's delegate on the union's tenants committee. He was elected the committee's chairman in 1994 and led the union's opposition to the introduction of farm business tenancies.

Mr Jones was elected a vice president of the FUW in 1995 and served on the central finance and organisation committee until 1998. He has given evidence, on behalf of the FUW, to the House of Commons' rural affairs committee in relation to problems in the dairy sector and the BSE enquiry.

In 2003 he gave evidence at the European Parliament in Brussels on a debate relating to the dairy sector.

Mr Jones has represented and continues to represent the FUW on a number of government bodies, such as the Milk Quotas Advisory Group, Industry/Government Working Group on Animal Identification and Registration leading to the establishment of the British Cattle Movement Service, the Milk Quotas Experts Group, and the Bovine Industry Working Group.

He was awarded the FUW/HSBC award for outstanding service to the Welsh dairy industry in 2006.

Mr Jones is a past director of Farmore Farmers and AF Farmore and represents Montgomeryshire on the Genus Advisory Committee. He is a member of Powys Local Access Forum and past vice chairman of Montgomeryshire Local Access Forum.

Mr Jones recently took part in the WAG/HCC sheep EID trials.