“It was a privilege to work with Mel”

by Gwyn Williams, Former Denbighshire Area Officer

It is with great sadness to record the death of Mel Williams of Colwyn Bay after a short illness. Mel served as County Officer in the Denbighshire and Flintshire counties of the Farmers’ Union of Wales for twelve years, between October 1989 and November 2001. Following in Meurig Voyle’s footsteps as County Officer in these counties was a challenge and a great achievement, but Mel did so with very special tenacity.

A farmer’s son from Cynwyd, near Corwen, he spent 30 years as a Police Sergeant, ending his career as an Inspector with North Wales Police. He was a member of the force’s CID, and he used the same talents of thorough, careful and decisive action as an officer of the Farmers' Union of Wales through turbulent times, both for the industry as well as for individual members.

Immediately upon starting with the Union, he became extremely popular with the members. I remember the late Lloyd Williams of Pentre, Rhuddlan saying with a smile that he would have liked to ask Mel one more question during his interview, namely how long it took Mel to become a police officer. The answer, says Lloyd Williams, would give an idea of ​​how much work it would involve to take the policeman out of Mel! But Mel used his skill as a policeman to assist and solve the problems of the agricultural industry, with a special flair.

Agriculture is known as the most dangerous industry in Britain - how can we improve the situation?

by Alun Edwards, Farm Safety Partnership Ambassador

How many of you know someone who has suffered an accident on the farm? I would hazard a guess by saying everyone, and many have lost a relative or friend. It happens despite all the training courses available, often cheap or free, and the constant efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of an agricultural career.

So what next? How can we improve the situation where agriculture is recognised as the most dangerous industry in Britain?

One thing's for sure, the future will include more records. You will need a risk assessment before starting work, and technology to record this. When I go out filming for Ffermio, it’s compulsory on a daily basis. It's a simple template, but it does need to be updated from time to time by attending a course, and in agriculture there is a real need for better communication and sympathy from the providers in this context.

Contractors will need a record of a risk assessment before offering you a service, through discussion and possibly a recce visit. An extra cost I hear you say. If you can't afford it, can you afford the result of an accident?

Insurers will increase the use of the carrot and the stick; asking for evidence of a training qualification before insuring a tractor, quad and bull, asking for proof of purchasing a helmet, and of course offering a discount for reducing the risk as a result.

F.A.W.L. will require similar evidence before accrediting your business, perhaps in the form of upskilling by gaining a Farming Connect skills record.

Looking forward to the return of the shows

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor

The brushes, trimming stand and head collars are idle for another year. For the second year running, there are no shows to show off Wales' best stock and the golden opportunity to socialise. But everyone understands the situation and the reasons behind the postponement as Covid continues to cast a shadow on our daily lives. But what is the real impact of losing another season of local shows and the Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells? 

Cornel Clecs has been asking two people, who are usually found in the middle of the show buzz, about the disappointment of losing another season and what is the future of agricultural shows in Wales?

Firstly, we asked Mared Rand Jones, Head of Operations, RWAS: “The postponement of the Royal Welsh Show for the second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic is certainly a huge loss to the Society and also to the wider community both financially and socially.  The Show is the highlight of the year for many of us in Wales and beyond, and a shop window for the Welsh agricultural industry. It's a great opportunity for everyone to get together to socialise, enjoy superb Welsh produce, competing and also to see the high quality of stock in the main ring.

Betsan’s inspirational story

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor

The past year has been a difficult and challenging one for us all. We have had to adjust our lifestyles, our priorities have changed, and everyone has found a new appreciation for the small things that may have been taken for granted before Covid.

But one young girl has adapted and gone on to help others through lockdown. Betsan Jane Hughes’ family, who are members of the Union in Ceredigion, farm near the village of Llangwyryfon, and Betsan's interest in sewing developed into setting up a business on the farm overlooking Mynydd Bach and the windmills.

Betsan admits that home is very important to her, and gives her the opportunity to combine the two things that are close to her heart - sewing and agriculture. During her time at college, Betsan enjoyed considerable success designing for a number of well-known companies, but now it is home that offers her the most inspiration.

After the busy lambing season, Cornel Clecs had the opportunity to talk to Betsan about everything from sewing to farming, and what inspires her creative work. Here is Betsan to explain more:

My name is Betsan Jane and day to day I run a clothing design and renovation business called Betsan Jane Design & Alterations. I set up my business back in 2017 after graduating from Carmarthen School of Art while doing a degree in 'Fashion: Design & Construction'. During my last year at University I was fortunate to win a scholarship in memory of Miriam Briddon, this inspired me to start my own business.

Countryside Poems to benefit Carmarthenshire Urdd National Eisteddfod

A member of the Farmers' Union of Wales has collected the work of nearly 150 Llandovery and district poets and rhymers in an attractive book to raise money for the Carmarthenshire National Urdd Eisteddfod, which will be held in Llandovery in 2023.

The book, Diferion Dyfri*, edited by Handel Jones, Rhandir-mwyn, also contains information about each poet - and a picture if available - as well as dozens of drawings and photographs by local artists and photographers.

Handel, author of A Family Affair, The Story of the Farmers' Union of Wales, has been preparing the book for three years. He said: “I thought it was important to include as wide a range as possible to reflect what was being written and read in the area over the centuries.

“The work of winners of the National Eisteddfod Chair or Crown will be seen alongside verses about local characters and events. Among the earliest pieces of work are fifteenth-century poems by Lewys Glyn Cothi, and the latest poets include Endaf Griffiths, born in 1994.

"The artists include the late Aneurin Jones, Peter Kettle, Beryl Morgan, Lon Owen and Marilyn Evans."

Naturally, a high proportion of the poetic work is owned by farmers and others closely associated with the land, for example John Rhys Evans, who farmed in the Pumsaint area until his retirement.

*Diferion Dyfri. Edited by Handel Jones. Published by Gwasg Llech Ddu. Price: £20 (+ £2.70 p&P). Copies available from Dai Dyer. Telephone number: 01550 720 956 / 07977 913 637. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“We need an united voice - membership of a Union provides this opportunity”

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.

Why FUW?

Because it stands for family farms and the lowest member has a voice within the Union. It’s a chance to voice opinions.

An experience of the pandemic

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor, Y Tir

Today is the 8th of March 2021. Just a year ago today everyone was about to start the last 'normal' week, without even knowing it.

It's hard to believe how much life has changed in a year - many have lost loved ones to the invisible virus that still controls us, everyone living a 'locked down' life, social distancing, wearing masks, using gallons of hand sanitiser, getting used to working from home and homeschooling children for most of the past year.

Normal life and social events, which were taken for granted up until last year, were cancelled.

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/