We are celebrating the Farmers’ Union of Wales' 65th birthday, an important milestone in our history. Who better to mark this occasion than our President Mr Glyn Roberts.
Well…where have the last five years gone?? I remember, delivering my speech for the Union's sixtieth anniversary in Carmarthen like it was yesterday. In my speech that evening I used a ship as a comparison of the importance of structure to the Union in serving its members. Five years on and my hair has gone white! I never imagined what the future of agriculture would look like.
There was no mention of…
- Changes to the industry's funding structure
- Internal Market Bill
- The dispute that arises from the Agricultural Bill, and the possibility that the quality of imported food will not be of the same quality as what is produced in this country.
For people, reaching 65 years is a sign of slowing down ... but I can assure you ... the FUW will not be slowing down at all.
I firmly believe that the FUW is needed now - more than ever - if we are to meet the needs of Welsh farmers. Remember that our only goal is to benefit the farmers of Wales.
Let us never forget the effort, perseverance and courage of the early pioneers.
We must not veer away from their wishes, aspirations and, of course, - the principle of an independent Union for Wales.
One of the most important resources we have is dedicated and capable staff.
A valuable tool we have is the cross section of experienced and young staff who are nurtured by the older generation - and the young in turn teaching the old - especially this year with the need for technical skills. Thank you to every member for ensuring that the wheels have continued to turn.
I have to admit that I never thought I would be telling Eleri... “I have to go, I have a Zoom meeting”!
Overall, the meetings have been a great success, and it must be said that Zoom have spared me several rows from Eifion as he waits on the yard of Dylasau for me before heading to Aber..!
I am also very pleased with the restructuring that has been done following the hard work undertaken by the "task and finish" group chaired by Rees Roberts from Montgomeryshire. The democratic procedure of obtaining the Council's approval for the change was followed.
The presidential policy team have met with central committee chairmen on a monthly basis. I'm very proud of them.
These are able and innovative people, giving their time to gather information and discuss.
Another part of the task and finish group's report was the creation of the FUW board (FUWIS already has a board), and again I am very proud of the board members here, it's quite a young board apart from me, with two very talented external non-executive directors. As the board is made up of capable and strong members, at times, this can be very challenging for the chairman! Seriously though ... it’s a privilege to chair such a talented group.
I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the former deputy president - Brian Thomas - for being so supportive of me, and also for the nurturing from Gareth Vaughan and Emyr Jones, both former Presidents.
Possibly the two most rewarding achievements to date have been when we persuaded the Welsh Government of the importance that farmers who farm up to 54 hectares receive financial priority. In addition, we have influenced the Welsh Government to change their views in order to undertake an economic assessment of the effects of changing the payment system. We must remember that the economic element is important in maintaining people, culture and language of rural Wales.
I would like to conclude by saying a big thank you to everyone - whether you are a member or a member of staff within the Union’s family - I really appreciate your dedication to our Union…our strength is in…!?
There are many challenges ahead but I am confident that the key to a prosperous and sustainable future lies with the Farmers’ Union of Wales.