by Lewis Gruffudd
On 8 August, we were saddened to hear that Ionwen Lewis had passed away. She lived at Werville Grange Farm, Pentre Gat, Llandysul, Ceredigion. She was Chairman of the Ceredigion Branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales in 2005/2006 and Ceredigion's representative on the Union's Tourism and Diversification Committee for a number of years. She was an innovative character and as far as we know, the first woman to be Branch Chair.
Ionwen was prominent in the agriculture world and Chair of the Women's Food and Farming Union over an extended period. She was one of those rare women in agricultural politics, and the presence of several former leaders of the FUW, including two former Presidents at her funeral in Myddfai, her place of birth, testified to the respect towards her.
She was passionate about rural communities and a tireless campaigner for sustainable farming, with the emphasis on sustainable farming businesses and the future of the family farm. She contributed to this in a practical way by modifying buildings on the farmyard at Werville Grange, and hiring them out as work units for local businesses.
Ionwen considered that the main purpose of farming was to produce high quality food and campaigned vigorously as President of the Women's Food and Farming Union to protect the safety of our food supply. She was proud of the FUW's stance on keeping Wales as a country that doesn't grow genetically modified crops.
She was also against 'rewilding' Wales, and wealthy commercial companies who can claim carbon credits by buying agricultural land in Wales for afforestation, continuing to produce carbon gases in their own commercial activities.
Many who came to know Ionwen in the world of agricultural politics will remember her as a courageous, outspoken person who was ready to stand up for her principles. But those of us who came to know her as a friend, who was always willing to help, will remember her affection, and her willingness to stand up for others and against injustice.