WELSH Black Cattle Society president Richard Hughes has won the FUW Anglesey branch's "Gwobr Garreg Fawr" for his contribution to agriculture and Brian and Ffiona Thomas from Beef Direct have won the "Dyfeisgarwch award" for ingenuity or initiative.
Mr Hughes of Glan Rafon, Bodorgan, has never travelled more in Wales than during his first half year in office. His Rafon herd of pedigree Welsh Blackcattle was established in 1967.
He has met society members at six of the leading summer shows - Aberystwyth, Anglesey, Flint & Denbigh, Pembrokeshire, Llanrwst and the Royal Welsh Show.
Farm visits to members, organised by the North Wales Breeders Club, included a modern dairy complex with the Plumbley family at Calveley green Farm, Cheshire, and to Peter and Yvonne Brown's Chastleton Hill Farm, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucester.
Both farm visits were to progressive Welsh Black breeders and were well received by hosts and visitors who believe in good public relations and communication between society officials and members.
The president also joined the South Wales Breeders Club at their annual farm visit hosted by the Williams family at Tyddyn Bach, Llanfachreth in Merionethshire.
Mr Williams, whose Machreth Herd was established in 1956, has in recent years seen many cattle registered from the home-bred bull, Machreth Cai 7th.
During the autumn Mr Hughes joined 100 members at the South Wales Breeders Club dinner at the Plough Inn, Rhosmaen, Llandeilo. Within a week both Mr and Mrs Hughes had met the patron, the Prince of Wales, and presented him with a china Welsh Black Bull to celebrate his 60th birthday.
Mr Hughes, who now has nine breeding cows, is a regular exhibitor at Anglesey Show and won breed champion on many occasions. He also purchases store cattle at Dolgellau to fatten in the spring and sell in the autumn direct to the abattoir.
During the Winter Fatstock Fairs Mr Hughes was delighted to witness the success of one of his own home bred steers Rafon Keith 3rd winning awards the length and breadth of the country.
Rafon Keith 3rd, exhibited by Robin Roberts, Anglesey, won the champion native steer at the Royal Highland Show and was in the best group of three pure beef breed animals at the Royal Smithfield Show held in the Bath & West Showground, Somerset.
Mr Hughes is the fourth generation of his family to farm at Glan Rafon and the third generation to be members of the Welsh Black Cattle Society.
The idea for Beef Direct was born in 1998 as Brian and Ffiona Thomas were fed up with having no control over their prices which at that time were below the cost of production for beef and lamb.
They felt that the supermarkets were paying farmers as little as possible and charging the housewife as much as possible. Logically, therefore, there was a reasonable margin to be had from direct selling.
In August 2000, after doing their research, Beef Direct was launched at the Anglesey Show. The idea was that as farmers' markets were just starting up in England they would go there to sell their Welsh Black Beef and lamb.
Initially, they worked with their local butcher and his son. Foot and Mouth shut the business down for four months in 2001. After this it was decided to upgrade the old stables which was adapted to a licensed working butchery and employ a full time butcher.
Both Brian and Ffiona attended a number of food-related courses to gain the necessary qualifications. Their aim from the start has been to produce the best quality meat possible from their herd of pure Welsh Black Cattle and lamb relying largely on the clover rich Anglesey pastures to enhance the flavour.
The business has expanded every year and at present three full-time employees work in the butchery. Demand for Welsh Black Beef is on the increase and with the advent of DNA testing it is envisaged that there will be a greatly increased demand for their pure Welsh Black Beef from the catering industry as well as the public.
They are looking to expand their premises in the near future and hopefully create more employment. The first recognition of Beef Direct's excellence was when they were invited to become one of Rick Stein's Food Heroes in the early stages of their meat business.
Other accolades have since followed- Great Taste Awards three gold stars for their Welsh Lamb 2008, Great Taste Awards one gold star for their beef 2008, Great Taste Awards reserve best speciality food from Wales 2008.
They have also won prizes at the Oyster Festival for their sausages. At New Ferry Farmers' Market, which won Radio 4 UK's Best Farmers' Market 2007, Beef Direct have won several awards including the overall best producer and runner-up in the Customer Service Award which recognised their excellent produce by customers who buy their meat on a monthly basis.
On being told that they were to receive the FUW Award for Ingenuity they commented: "The award given by the Anglesey branch of the FUW to us is very important and greatly appreciated as it is the first award we have received from fellow farmers. We are absolutely delighted to be receiving this award."
The awards were presented at the branch's annual dinner on January 30.