Where have the last twenty years gone?

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor

It is a remarkable coincidence that efforts to eradicate Covid-19 coincide with the 20th anniversary of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, and the destruction of agriculture in 2001 that left scars on Welsh agriculture that will last a lifetime.

To mark the occasion, Corner Clecs had the opportunity to ask Arwyn Owen, former FUW Director of Policy, and Alan Gardner, Chair of the union's Livestock, Wool and Markets Committee in 2001 about their personal memories of the period:-

Arwyn Owen:-

Where have the last twenty years gone, will be the refrain from many as we look back to the year 2001 and remember the catastrophic impact of foot and mouth disease on life in Wales. Many of the emotions that people felt at that time have been at the forefront of our thoughts as Covid brought everyday life to a standstill in 2020. In both instances, livelihoods have been destroyed and people have lived in fear of an invisible enemy, never knowing when or how it would strike next. For me, the hardest part of my job in 2001 was witnessing people who had done everything within their power to keep foot and mouth out of their flocks and herds having to deal with the consequences of a breakdown. It is easy to look back and simply measure the impact in terms of bare statistics. Behind each confirmed case was a farming family, behind the raw details of animals slaughtered lay many years of meticulous breeding and beyond the immediate impact of the disease lay many questions about the future. The impact on the wider community was often less visible but equally severe. As in 2020, shows were cancelled, social events limited and isolation, whilst good for disease control, caused real suffering for many.

Communities throughout Wales will get extra support as the 2021 Census approaches

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has appointed a census engagement manager/community adviser to support Welsh residents and help make Census 2021 a success.

The Census engagement manager/community adviser, will help organisations, charities, faith groups and community leaders within the city/district raise awareness of the census and the value to residents in taking part.

The census is a once-in-a-decade survey that provides a snapshot of households in England and Wales, helping to plan and fund public services.

Everyone across England and Wales will be asked to take part and the information people give will decide how services are planned and funded. Ultimately, it ensures funds are invested in emergency services, health care, school places and other vital services.

Welsh lamb at its best

Whilst most farmers see their role as raising and preparing high quality stock for the live market or directly to the slaughterhouse, Sion Ifans, Chairman of Merionethshire FUW, sees a wider supply chain responsibility, from 'gate to plate', and has demonstrated the importance of communicating with his customers.

The background stems from a conversation he had with the owner of the local Camlan Garden Centre and Shop in Dinas Mawddwy, near Machynlleth. When Sion asked why local lamb couldn't be sold in the shop, the owner replied that it was hard to find. Typical of Sion, and with his enthusiasm and interest, he decided to do something about the situation and respond positively.

He arranged for his own lambs from Brynuchaf Farm to be transported to Randall Parker abattoir in Llanidloes, and then cut by butcher Marcus Williams, again locally in Llanidloes. The terms and conditions were decided, and the venture started in April 2019. It quickly developed into supplying 2 lambs a week to the shop, and now supplies 3 lambs a week on a fairly regular basis.

The ‘Cig Oen Mawddwy’ brand was developed and is now popular not only with local residents, but also by the thousands who pass daily on the nearby A470 trunk road. The work gives Sion a great deal of pleasure.

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,