“Countryside and agriculture are the beating hearts of our language, our culture and our communities”

by Gareth Thomas, Vice Chairman Anglesey FUW

The last two years have highlighted the importance of agriculture within our communities, as we all fight a new virus, and see significant changes to every aspect of our lives. There is no doubt that there needs to be a focus on the smaller and local supply chains, and continue to produce the highest quality food.

In these challenging, changing and unknown times, every farmer rolled up his sleeves to carry out the extra work that accompanied the fast demand for food in a productive and outstanding way, and I greatly admire those who work within this amazing industry.

But, although as an industry and as farmers, we are treated as the creators of the world's problems, the reality is quite the opposite. As farmers and as an industry, our roots are the bedrock of the guardianship of our natural resources, not the destroyers as others point out, and, indeed, the heartbeat of our language, culture and communities.

We do this without anyone realising, and we work tirelessly against unbelievable challenges in trying to produce food of the highest possible quality, full of good and nourishment, even though so many are protesting and working against us.

Perseverance, motivation, resilience and strength prove that it takes special people to take on the challenges of being part of this industry, because it is not a normal job.

Like many who are fortunate enough to be born and raised in rural Wales, we are aware of the importance of our work, as well as the challenges we face.

I urge everyone within the industry to continue the work. There are times when it is easy to feel that everyone is working against us, but, indeed, everyone needs to realise that without agriculture, our culture and our language would not be as strong.  Without us, the Welsh Government has no chance of reaching its goal of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Agriculture is part of the solution to the challenges we face, not the problem that needs to be targeted. Farmers are guardians of nature and the environment, not destroyers, and we are often unfairly and utterly wrongly compared.

Our standards are the highest in the world, but we are compared to completely different countries and systems. We are judged by people in cities, people who fly hundreds of miles, people who choose to avoid meat by eating processed food, who create and sustain global warming, and who create deforestation. But nonetheless, we are their enemy. Now is the time for the industry as a whole to stand up strong as one, against false and harmful messages.

We need to be educators, and we need to see that the importance of Welsh food is taught here in Wales, and make sure that everyone knows the healthy and nutritious properties of the food we produce here in Wales, and within the United Kingdom.