Jump at the chance!

by Siôn Ifans, FUW Meirionnydd County Chairman

I'm part of a partnership here at Bryn Uchaf, Llanymawddwy with my wife and parents in law. Bryn Uchaf is a hill farm with a flock of 900 ewes and 15 suckler cows. The flock contains 630 Welsh ewes with 150 of those running with an Aberfield ram and the rest with Welsh rams. We also keep 170 Aberfield crossbred sheep that run with Texel and Suffolk NZ rams.

The suckler herd includes Hereford and Stabiliser cows. A Stabiliser bull was purchased for the first time this year with the intention of keeping female calves to increase the herd slightly without having to buy in.

My relationship with the FUW started back in 2002 when I had the opportunity to start farming by securing a 5 year tenancy. I went to the Union office in Newtown to ask for advice on various things such as sheep quota etc. I received extremely valuable guidance and support from the County Executive Officer at the time, and from that my relationship with the Union has grown.

Now, having moved to Bryn Uchaf, I have changed County and have become involved with the Meirionnydd Office. I was nominated by the local branch in Dinas Mawddwy to represent them at the County committee and after a few years I had the opportunity to be Vice Chairman and now I'm in my second year as County Chairman.

I work very closely with the Dolgellau office staff. Responsibilities range from chairing the County committee as well as contributing to discussions with politicians and industry representatives. Since becoming chairman I have gained a better understanding of how the Union operates and realise the importance of the work that the policy department does.

By communicating with the county office as well as the policy department, all the latest developments on the future of agricultural and environmental policies are very much high on the agenda.

This is true of the latest and third consultation, Sustainable Farming and Our Land: Proposals to continue and simplify Agricultural Support for Farmers and the Rural Economy. In short, this is a consultation for a scheme between schemes, but it needs to be responded to.

There is no doubt in my mind that since the first consultation came out in 2018, there are suggestions that the Welsh Government are seeking out what would work in terms of support schemes. This highlights the fact that there is a lack of experience and understanding within the relevant Welsh Government departments. It is therefore vitally important that we give them some guidance and respond, whether individually or by contributing to a County response.

As a final word, remember to take advantage of any opportunity that comes with being a member of the Union. Your views are important and need to be heard!