by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor
At the start of a New Year, I'm not going to greet you with the traditional Happy New Year, but rather I’m going to wish you a Better New Year, and after 2020, the word better is more important than ever. Hopefully 2021 will be full of health, hope, success and happiness for us all.
We have been living in the shadow of Brexit for years now, and despite all the uncertainty, farming has to continue with the lambing season imminent for many of us. But the challenges and uncertainties of Brexit are not going to stop one Carmarthenshire farmer from diversifying into the agricultural industry.
We are more accustomed to seeing Nigel Owens on a rugby pitch than a farm field, but having confirmed that he wants to retire from his career as a professional referee, after 100 test matches, he now wants to swap the rugby boots for wellies.
Nigel was the guest speaker at the Carmarthenshire branch's virtual executive committee meeting in December last year. Although Nigel admitted that he was not born and bred on a farm, he had a keen interest in farming from an early age. He spent every opportunity at his grandparents’ farm in Mynydd Cerrig. He was a faithful member of Llanarthne YFC, where he was secretary and chairman, before going on to become a former President of Wales YFC and the newly appointed President of NFYFC last year.
It may surprise you to hear that Nigel’s childhood dream wasn’t to be a referee initially. His ultimate ambition was to be a farmer, and that was the childhood dream. But at the age of 16 he started his career as a rugby referee and started saving money, in the hope that his dreams of being able to farm his own farm would, one day come true.
Step by step, the dream became a reality, and Nigel and his partner Barrie have now secured a farm, machinery and stock. It was decided to keep native Hereford cattle that have a very special place in Nigel's heart.
What becomes apparent when Nigel talks about his farm is his passion for agriculture. Although he has not been a full time farmer, he has always been a faithful buyer of Welsh produce and firmly believes that the agricultural industry is the backbone of rural Wales.
He sees how the farming community makes a huge contribution to our culture and economy and owes a great deal to his local community for all the help and support he has received while venturing into farming.
After the meeting, David Waters, Carmarthenshire's county executive officer said: “We welcomed Nigel Owens MBE here tonight to our executive committee, and gained an insight into his personal life, his refereeing career, and the way he has diversified into agriculture. It was a very interesting evening and everyone was delighted to hear Nigel's story.”
Good luck Nigel with the new venture off the rugby field, your agricultural future looks very bright! It's great to see so much enthusiasm and positivity at the start of a brand new year.