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.

Recognising the importance of agriculture to the Welsh language

'The importance of agriculture to the Welsh language must be acknowledged' - this was the message from the Welsh Language Commissioner Aled Roberts on Radio Cymru on 7 October 2020. The Welsh Government's post Brexit plans to support the agricultural industry must recognise “its importance to the future of the Welsh language”.

Mr Roberts said subsidies needed to be targeted towards helping family farms survive. Census figures show that 43% of agricultural workers speak Welsh, compared to 19% of the general population. Mr Roberts was responding to the recommendations of a recent report on how farmers can help the government reach its goal of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales welcomes this message, and these findings reinforce many points in our report "Farming in Wales and the Welsh Language" (available on the Union's website, www.fuw.org.uk).

Here are some of the Welsh Language Commissioner’s findings in response to a Menter a Busnes report "The Language of the Land" which gathered information from shows and events across Wales during 2019.

  • Draw the attention of agricultural policy planners to the undeniable link between the continuity of the language and the survival of our agricultural communities.
  • Ensure that policies and the subsidy system support family farms activities.
  • Ensure that the planning system supports rural enterprises and communities.
  • Work with the post 16 sector to strengthen Welsh language provision on agricultural related courses.
  • Fund a system to publish and translate agricultural education resources for the sector.
  • Fund a facilitator post to co-ordinate partners interested in sustaining and growing the Welsh language in agriculture.

Glyn Roberts, Farmers Union of Wales President, added: “I welcome the Welsh Language Commissioner’s response to the report, and appreciate the contribution of Menter a Busnes and their research to the report. I am also pleased that there is a wider awareness of the importance of the agriculture sector to the Welsh language. This Union believes that the future of the family farm within a sustainable community is an integral part of the continuation of race and language to Welsh culture.

“It is clear to us living in the rural communities of Wales that agriculture has an integral and vital part in the future of the language. The agricultural industry is the backbone of so many rural communities. The future of our communities, and our rural schools on the Welsh language in these areas go hand in hand with the prosperity of the family farm, a future that is becoming increasingly uncertain in light of the political storms of our time. I look forward to working with the Welsh Government and the Welsh Language Commissioner to ensure a successful future for Welsh family farms.”

 

 

Depression and suicide – the leading causes of death in the UK farming communities by Hywel Llyr Jenkins, Member of meddwl.org management team According to 84% of farmers under the age of 40, mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today.

by Hywel Llyr Jenkins, Member of meddwl.org management team

According to 84% of farmers under the age of 40, mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today. 85% of young farmers believe that there is a specific link between mental health and the general safety of farmers.

Depression and suicide are the leading causes of death within UK farming communities, according to the Time to Change Wales campaign. Unsurprisingly, there has been an increasing demand recently for rural communities to discuss mental health more openly. The agriculture industry is facing many stressful things, and is placing increasing pressures on workers, such as working long hours, financial pressures, animal diseases, poor crops, isolation and loneliness, as well as political factors such as Brexit and policies that put them at greater risk of experiencing mental health difficulties. Therefore, addressing your mental health is paramount in the industry.

We are pleased to hear that the FUW has set a clear goal of trying to raise awareness of mental health in rural communities. There is a stigma surrounding talking about our mental health, and until we are ready to challenge this stigma, there is a danger that people will not get the help they truly deserve.

Jump at the chance!

by Siôn Ifans, FUW Meirionnydd County Chairman

I'm part of a partnership here at Bryn Uchaf, Llanymawddwy with my wife and parents in law. Bryn Uchaf is a hill farm with a flock of 900 ewes and 15 suckler cows. The flock contains 630 Welsh ewes with 150 of those running with an Aberfield ram and the rest with Welsh rams. We also keep 170 Aberfield crossbred sheep that run with Texel and Suffolk NZ rams.

The suckler herd includes Hereford and Stabiliser cows. A Stabiliser bull was purchased for the first time this year with the intention of keeping female calves to increase the herd slightly without having to buy in.

My relationship with the FUW started back in 2002 when I had the opportunity to start farming by securing a 5 year tenancy. I went to the Union office in Newtown to ask for advice on various things such as sheep quota etc. I received extremely valuable guidance and support from the County Executive Officer at the time, and from that my relationship with the Union has grown.

The cookery inspiration during lockdown

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor

The week of March 16-20 was very unusual this year, somewhat eerie, as the whole world plunged into an unprecedented uncertainty.

Panic was widespread as Coronavirus tightened its grip on the world. We didn't think that word would still continue to dominate the conversation today.

But, despite all the sadness and uncertainty of the pandemic, good things have come out of a bad situation. Shortly after the lockdown period began, two members of Merched y Wawr, Angharad Fflur and Gwerfyl Eidda, set up the Curo’r Corona’n Coginio Facebook page to encourage people to share their recipes and tips. Within a few weeks, 15,000 members had joined the group, creating a friendly community that extends right across the world.