Alan Watson is a County Delegate for the FUW’s Brecon & Radnor branch. He’s a sheep farmer and has lived in North Radnorshire all his life. Here he gives us an insight into what it’s like to be an FUW County Delegate.
Because it stands for family farms and the lowest member has a voice within the Union. It’s a chance to voice opinions.
Views on the future? What do you think are the main challenges and opportunities?
- Losing the SFP is going to be a huge blow to the industry and keeping farms going without being forced to diversify to keep the farm profitable will be a challenge in the future.
- Educating the public to accept our high food standards rather than accepting lower standard imports from abroad is important, and showing that high animal welfare leads to a better outcome across the industry.
- Overcoming negative images on social media through engagement with the public.
- Keeping people, particularly the young, in the countryside and encouraging innovation in farming practices to create a better work/life balance. Increasing opportunities for vocational training rather than book learning.
- Legislators need to listen to practical solutions from people in the industry.
- The loss of council tenant farms/grass keep to encourage new entrants and youngsters starting up.
What have you learnt from being a County Delegate?
The inner workings of the Union, more benefit from attending exec meetings to keep up-to-date with progress. Being chair or vice chair aren’t important as anyone can chair the meeting and give it structure. It is more important to keep the County Execs functioning and vibrant to put forward different views on farming.
Would you recommend other members come forward to be a County Delegate and why?
Yes, I’ve enjoyed being the delegate and attending the Grand Council. It’s important to hear views from all over Wales. It is fascinating to see how diverse farming is across Wales. There is no reason why more people can’t attend the Grand Council as an observer now that we are using more Zoom. The way to shape government policy affecting farming is through a united voice and membership of a Union provides this opportunity.
Do you feel better informed on FUW business being a County Delegate?
Yes, but I don’t feel as a delegate I should know any more than an ordinary member. I am more informed from attending the meetings and feel that more information should be fed back to the members. The more you put in, the more you get out.
How do you work with the county office? How much input have you got through the county structure?
Very well, I like the fact that they are always available to talk and discuss issues. I feel my opinions are forwarded up to Head Office if necessary and if the county office can’t answer my queries they can find someone who can.