The final whistle

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.

“They never listen to us”

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor

65 years old – that is 65 years, 23725 days, 569400 hours and 2,049,840,000 seconds of the Farmers’ Union of Wales – Happy Birthday to us!

We are celebrating the Union’s 65th birthday, but did you know, that it all started with a conversation in a Riley 3.5 litre travelling on the A40 from London to Carmarthenshire?

The Riley’s passengers, Ivor T Davies (Chairman of Carmarthenshire NFU County Executive Committee) and J B Evans (Carmarthenshire NFU County Secretary) felt that they had wasted a long day at the NFU’s Council meeting at the headquarters in Bedford Square as nobody was listening to Welsh farmers.  During that journey, the two decided that they wanted to take a stance, one that would change the future for Welsh farmers forever.

The key to a prosperous and sustainable future lies with the Farmers’ Union of Wales

 

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…

  • Brexit,
  • Covid-19,
  • 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.

The vision of the founders is still alive - to give Welsh farmers a strong and independent voice

by Elin Jones MS

I'm sure there aren't many politicians that can say that their political upbringing is rooted in the founding and early years of the Farmers’ Union of Wales. But that's true in my case. Some readers of Y Tir will know that I've written in the past about my Wncwl Jac, J.B. Evans Llanybydder. Wncwl Jac was the first General Secretary of the Union and one of the key figures who left the NFU 65 years ago and created the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

He was a paid employee of the NFU and worked in Carmarthenshire with the tenant farmers in the upper Tywi valley who faced losing their farms to compulsory purchase by the Forestry Commission in the early 50s of the last century. In the words of Gwenallt in his famous poem Rhydcymerau, the battle of Wncwl Jac and the Union then was to oppose:

Woods where once was community,

A forest where once were farms,

Your membership can take pride in its 65 years’ service to Welsh agriculture

by The Rt Hon Lord Morris of Aberavon, KG, QC

It is a privilege to congratulate the FUW to celebrate its 65th anniversary. There can’t be many of us around who were present almost at its creation.

I am not going to fall into the temptation of old men to dwell on the past. The incredible difficulties of setting up the FUW were set out in my book, “Fifty years in Politics and the Law.”

I have added a little to them in my recent book in Welsh, “Cardi yn y Cabinet”. (Y Lolfa, Talybont) in which there is an excellent photograph taken during the visit of my wife and I to the FUW office in Dolgellau a few years ago. It was a poignant visit to the town where the Union’s hopes of making headway in North Wales were nearly crushed. However, my instructions were to pick myself up and go further north. Fortunately, having just left the Army and taking part in military manoeuvres on the plains of Germany, I had been taught if you face an insurmountable obstacle, you find a way round it.

I try to visit each year your pavilion at the Royal Welsh Show, which I had the privilege of opening. I am fortunate in a well-informed House of Lords so far as agriculture is concerned, to do what I can to speak up for Welsh agriculture and to fight for the repatriation of powers from Brussels to Cardiff rather than Westminster.

On the second reading of the Agriculture Bill I welcomed the Trade & Agricultural Commission and commended the appointment of your President to it.

Butchers and farm shops - community champions during the pandemic

High streets closed down and the shop front shutters came down across the country. Lockdown forced those who could to work from home, children couldn’t go to school, hotels, restaurants and pubs had empty tables, the lights were off. An air of quiet drifted across towns and villages. But if you looked closely, there was a group of people for whom life was about to get busy. 

Dotted around the Welsh countryside, farmers carried on with their day-to-day jobs of looking after the environment, rearing livestock and producing food, small local farm shops and butchers were called upon to provide the essentials. And they answered that call with resolve, determination and grit. Their communities were not going to go hungry.   

One of those countryside champions is Dafydd Wyn Jones, of Gerlan farm, who farms in partnerships with his wife Morfudd, daughter Anna and her husband Gerallt. The farm, which has been run by the family for over 40 years, is situated outside of the village of Rhos Isaf in the foothills of Y Fron. Here they raise their animals in an organic environment in and around the farm and grazing land of Uwchgwyfrai common. Dafydd also runs SiopFfermGerlan and Cafe near Groeslon, which includes a butcher shop where you can buy the local produce including poultry, Game and seasonal Vegetables.

A perfect combination of farming and singing

 

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor

Do you have a talent? Singing, reciting, acting? I don't see myself as a very talented person, I dabble in many things and specialize in nothing! Although I love listening to all kinds of music, I couldn't sing a note to save my life! It is a pleasure therefore to be proud of other people’s talents, and this is exactly what is being celebrated in a brand new book, O’r Gwlân i’r Gân which has just been published by Y Lolfa.

Here is the story of farmer Aled Wyn Davies, or Aled Pentremawr as he is known. Although Aled is a man of his community in Llanbrynmair, he has had the opportunity to travel the world thanks to his talent as a singer.

What is very apparent from the autobiography is the way farming and singing are perfectly intertwined all the time. The YFC played an important role in Aled's early days as a singer as he competed in various musical competitions, as well as the funny ones - the sketch, the funny duet and the miming to music.

COVID-19 - Important Information for our members and customers

 

In view of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve taken the decision to help protect members, customers and colleagues by closing all FUW offices.

All staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, meaning our team will be continuing with exactly the same service but over the phone/email/skype or other means of remote communication instead. 

Members and customers should continue to contact us as they would, as all our team can be contacted via the usual phone numbers. 

We will be making sure that our service levels are maintained. SAF/IACS appointments will carry on as normal but will be conducted over the phone. 

Contact details for your local office can be found here: https://www.fuw.org.uk/en/contact-us 

 

Important links relating to the Coronavirus:


The TB Hub have prepared a list of FAQs regarding how TB procedures will be affected by the virus: https://tbhub.co.uk/statutory-tb-testing-of-cattle-in-gb-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Red Tractor Updated Covid-19 position here: https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/contentfiles/Farmers-7085.pdf?_=637206600290507095

Livestock Auctioneers Association LAA - 25/03/2020: https://www.laa.co.uk/news/3989/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-to-members-and-farmers/

Business Wales (including details of coronavirus support for businesses): https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) available through participating lenders: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) guidance on Coronavirus: https://www.naac.co.uk/coronavirus-guidance-issued-to-contractors/

National Milk Recording services 24/03/2020: https://www.nmr.co.uk/about-us/coronavirus

Senedd Research Blog: https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support/