Thank you! For what?! That’s up to you. The autumn has arrived, it’s thanksgiving season and an opportunity to be thankful for the summer blessings, be it for the harvest (although as I’m writing this month, many are still waiting for dry weather to try to finish the harvest - a slightly different story from just a few months ago!), health, family and friends. We all have something to be thankful for, but very often the simple little word is taken for granted.
After a busy summer of being at the Cornel Clecs desk and travelling from show to show with the sheep, it was time to take a little break and leave the desk and sheep for a few days. Our destination was Carmel near Llanrwst for an opportunity to 'recharge the batteries'.
I enjoy the journey through Corris, Brithdir and Bala and then the second half of the journey towards Betws y Coed, seeing the countryside at its best. One disadvantage of the extremely warm weather at the beginning of the summer was that the grass didn’t grow back after everyone had the first crop of silage, and I lost count of the amount of silage fields that were ready to be baled on the first weekend of September.
Another thing that came to my attention when looking around the countryside was the number of attractions for tourists. Here we are, on the brink of the biggest change to our agricultural industry for decades, we’re all in the same boat trying to predict what the future will offer us. But it is not my place to witter on about the uncertainties and worries of Brexit, but rather to focus on the positives that arises from the uncertainty - uncertainty that has forced some to diversify into different areas to secure additional income for their businesses. From bouncing between the high trees on the outskirts of Betws y Coed to canoeing on a lake, there's something to suit everyone!
To break the journey from home to Llanrwst, it was decided to have lunch near Bala Lake. Of course, we've been there many times before, and every time, the place is packed with people venturing on some activity on the water. But what makes this remarkable lake such an attraction for visitors?
It is the largest natural body of water in Wales and is 3.7 miles long and 0.5 miles wide. The River Dee runs through it and the waters of the lake are deep and clear. Whether it's sailing, canoeing, wild swimming or trout fishing that interests you, all this is possible on Bala Lake.
A bit of myth and magic is associated with the lake too! In the legend of the History of Taliesin, the character Tegid Foel was the husband of the goddess or witch Ceridwen. The place where his court stood is now beneath the waters of the lake. According to folk tradition, the court was drowned one night. It is said that the light of the court and the little town around it can be seen on a moonlit night.
The lake has become famous for another special reason as hundreds of young people flock there for the summer camp, and weekends every year after the Urdd managed to buy Glan-llyn in 1964.
Of course, over the years, the camp has developed, not only in terms of buildings and facilities, but in terms of the activities offered, and also in terms of the age range that take part in the activities. There are now 13,000 young people visiting Glan-llyn annually who enjoy top quality accommodation and activity facilities. With the latest developments the Urdd can ensure that generations of future campers can enjoy the same unique atmosphere on the banks of Bala Lake.
Isn’t Wales a unique country, and we're fortunate of what is on our doorstep, that's enough reason to say THANK YOU!
The importance of understanding how food is produced,reconnecting children with the land and preparing pupils for employment in the modern technical world of agriculture was highlighted recently when FUW Education and Training Committee delegates met with Ysgol Gyfun Gymunedol Penweddig and Ysgol Bro Hyddgen pupils and Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM.
Addressing a group of year 10 students, Anwen Hughes, the Union’s Education and Training Committee chairperson, said: “We are faced with a generation of children who don’t know how their food is produced, where it comes from and how to prepare it. The disconnect between food producers and consumers is widening. There is a simple way of addressing that problem - add agriculture and food production to the school curriculum.
“Penweddig school is an excellent example of how successful such courses can be and it is great to see so many young people taking up the BTEC on offer. Such initiatives should be supported and encouraged across Wales, and not be limited to secondary schools.”
Lowri Evans, who teaches the BTEC in Agriculture for students from both schools said: “This was a really positive meeting and I’m glad the Cabinet Secretary and FUW delegates were able to join us for the meeting.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales is looking forward to a busy day at the Welsh Dairy Show on Tuesday October 30.
Hosting 2 seminars on the day at the FUW stand, the focus will be on the challenge of managing milk price volatility in a fair and transparent way and we will be exploring what the opportunities and challenges are for the dairy industry post Brexit from an exporters point of view.
Addressing the ‘Future Milk Prices? Smoothing Volatility Without Speculating’ seminar is DairyVol™ co-founder Tim Cowen. The event will start at 11.30am and provides an opportunity to ask questions, as well as getting a deeper understanding of how dairy farmers can secure a fair long term milk price by taking the tops off the highs and bottom off the lows.
With bonfire night fast approaching, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging people to remember the distress fireworks and sky lanterns can cause to livestock and pets and reminds them of the dangers posed by bonfires.
“We call on people to stick to the firework safety code at all times, especially over the bonfire and Halloween season, to minimise the risk to livestock, pets and humans,” said FUW Policy Officer Charlotte Priddy.
“This time of year poses many dangers to animals and children – so don’t let negligence and ignorance be the cause for a real-life horror,” added Mrs Priddy.
Animals in general are not fond of the noise of fireworks and can become quite anxious during this time of year. Therefore, the FUW urges people to be considerate and not let them off near livestock.
“It is also a good idea to make sure that your pets have been micro-chipped by a vet and that the details on the chip are up to date prior to bonfire night, just in case they go missing,” said Mrs Priddy.
The FUW recommends that people visit an organised display but if you are having a display at home please make sure you follow the firework code at all times to minimise the stress for farm animals and children.
Farmers across Wales can breathe a sigh of relief as Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove, during the second reading of Agriculture Bill, said that agricultural funding will not be Barnettised, and the current settlement which allocates money to Wales on rural and agricultural criteria will be maintained.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has today also reinforced that commitment giving further hope to the farming community in Wales.
Describing the announcement as a very positive step forward, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “This is most welcome news and provides some guarantee on future funding for Welsh agriculture. Wales would lose around half of its rural funding if allocated through the Barnett Formula.
“This announcement has been long awaited and I am pleased to see that the FUW’s lobbying on not Barnettising Welsh rural funding, as part of the #FairFarmFunding campaign, has been successful.
“We now look forward to working with the UK Government to generate a future farming funding programme that suits the needs of family farms in Wales, that are so vital to the rural economy.
“As we have made clear since the EU Referendum and as promised by key Brexiteers, the budget for Welsh agriculture must be maintained at at least current levels.”
Farmers on Anglesey who are short of winter fodder have been given a helping hand by the Farmers’ Union of Wales and Horizon.
“We are pleased to announce that Horizon are donating a limited number of bales of silage from the Wylfa Newydd site to farmers who live and farm on Anglesey. To be eligible they will need to meet specified criteria, agreed between Horizon, FUW, RABI, FCN and they have to prove that their farm is below 250 acres,” said FUW Anglesey CEO Alaw Jones.
Those wishing to apply can bring their SAF summary into the county office in order to verify that their farm size and the bales are only for the applicant’s own use and not for resale.
“After a disastrous harvest earlier in the year, caused by the severe drought, the window of good weather in recent weeks has come as a lifeline for hundreds of farmers and their animals, allowing desperately needed additional crops of silage to be taken ahead of the autumn and winter but farmers are not out of the woods yet. So this is a great example of a successful company supporting farmers in their local community and I hope that those who are struggling will take up the offer,” added Alaw Jones.