Nominations are being invited for the Farmers’ Union of Wales Pembrokeshire branch’s 2009 Countryside Award which recognises the achievements of younger farmers in the county.

To be eligible for the award the nominee must be 40 years of age or under on January 1, 2009; actively involved in agricultural production or land management; and normally resident within Pembrokeshire.

"To ensure the future of the industry, it is essential that we acknowledge the hard work of younger farmers during these difficult times and nurture them," said county chairman Dafydd Williams.

"In presenting this award we hope that the determination of the younger generation of farmers in the county will be highlighted and applauded," he added.

A cash prize, perpetual trophy and a year’s free FUW membership will be awarded.

Further details and nomination forms can be obtained by telephoning the Pembrokeshire FUW Office on 01437 762913.

All nominations must be submitted by Friday, May 22, 2009.

The award has gained greater importance since Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones launched a consultation on support for young farmers at last year’s Royal Welsh Show.

She said all sectors need young people to bring new ideas, energy and enthusiasm, and farming is no exception.

Encouraging young entrants to the industry can not only bring innovation and enthusiasm to farming, but it is also important in sustaining rural communities and the Welsh culture.

The publication of the consultation meets a One Wales commitment to support young entrants to farming, and includes proposals on how to use £2m of funding available from 2010 to best effect.

Ms Jones added: "Young entrants to the farming industry represent the future. Removing the barriers that young entrants face and supporting them as they set up their business has been a priority for me since I became Minister, and I am pleased to be publishing this consultation.

"I want it to be a topic of discussion and I want people to be looking towards the future of the industry. There are a number of ways we can provide support for young entrants including providing advice on marketing and business plans; one-to-one mentoring; encouraging joint ventures with established farmers to assist with succession and assisting with the issue of access to land and housing.

"Of course, there are challenges facing the industry, which is why it is vital that young entrants have the support they need to face up to these. They have a crucial role in the future of our food and farming industry and in maintaining the fabric of our rural communities."

Last year’s winner of the FUW award, 36-year-old Robert Vaughan, was recognised for his enthusiastic devotion to diversification on his family’s three farms high in the north Pembrokeshire hills.

Presenting him with the trophy in the main ring at last August’s Pembrokeshire County Show, Mr Williams said the award was originally launched to recognise younger farmers bucking the trend and continuing to work in the county’s agricultural industry.

"Robert is a fine example of someone dedicated to working in agriculture within the county and he is a very worthy winner."

Robert runs a herd of 200 Longhorn cattle and a flock of 1,000 pedigree Lleyn and Welsh Mountain ewes on the family’s Carn Edward group of traditional Welsh hill farms in the Gwaun Valley in north Pembrokeshire.

The farms - Penlan Uchaf, Llanerch and Penrhiw - encircle the Carn Edward stones on Carningli Common and his decision to start selling beef in boxes over three years ago has led to his recognition by the FUW.