FUW Academy enjoys farm tour and #FarmingMatters discussions
The West Wales FUW Academy, including the Ceredigion, Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire branches, recently discussed a host of #FarmingMatters when they met with Leader of the Welsh Conservative party Paul Davies AM.
The meeting was held at Trefochlyd, Croesgoch, Pembrokeshire, and was hosted by Euros Rees, who runs the family farm with his parents Peter and Dilys Rees and his uncle David Rees.
Delegates enjoyed a tour of the farm, which has been run by the family since it was purchased in the late 1930s. Euros is the third generation to farm Trefochlyd, which was primarily a dairy farm for many years but due to pressures in the industry and the need for heavy investment the difficult decision was made to sell the dairy herd.
Alongside his father and uncle, Euros set out to change the farming business and it was decided to go into beef production. Fast forward a few years and the family have built up a commercial suckler herd of about 50 cows.
Euros’ passion however is his herd of Pedigree Hereford cattle, which was established in 2011 when he purchased a cow with a heifer calf at foot. Subsequently more heifers were purchased from some of the top herds in the country.
Walking around the farm Euros explains: “The herd has slowly grown and now consists of eighteen cows and followers. I was excited when the opportunity arose to purchase a well proven bull - Solpoll 1 Gilbert - which we purchased in 2016. He had already won the prestigious award of the UK Hereford Cattle Society Sire of The Year.
“He has gone on to win the award a further two times. It’s encouraging for us that the herd has had success in the show ring at local shows as well as winning the Dyfed Hereford Breeders Club Best Small Herd in 2016 and 2017.”
Conscious of the public's perception on farming and how it affects climate change, Euros was keen to highlight some of the changes they have made on the farm.
He said: “We have started to look at alternative ways of managing our slurry and are trying to reduce its volume with our ‘weeping wall’ system. That way we can separate the dirty water and the solid manure, which can then be put on the field later in the year when it’s dryer. Climate change and the impact the industry has is only going to get bigger so I’m keen to positively get behind ways of working that help the environment.”
The FUW Academy delegates also enjoyed hearing about how Trefochlyd makes the most of its location near the busy tourist area of St Davids.
Euros said: “We rent out the farmhouse as a holiday let and it’s popular with families. We try to involve them in some aspects of the farming day, collecting eggs, feeding chickens, ducks and chicks and they can help with feeding molly lambs and washing and preparing show cattle. Sometimes we can even take them on a tractor ride. We encourage them to get as involved as possible. And at the end we always ask the children to sign our wall of fame and draw us a picture of their stay with us.”
Following the farm tour, and a cup of warming soup, discussions turned to #FarmingMatters including the persistent problem of bovine TB, succession planning, sheep scab, and future direct support payments.
FUW Deputy President Brian Thomas said: “What became clear in our discussions with Paul Davies AM was that our young people, even though full of enthusiasm and drive, are worried. They are concerned about what the future holds for them in terms of Brexit and future direct support, they are concerned about not being able to get into future agri-environment schemes and added on top of all that there is the persistent fear of a bovine TB breakdown.
“TB remains an insidious problem and the FUW remains concerned at the level of bovine TB in some regions of Wales. We continue to remind members to report dead badgers to the Wales Veterinary Science Centre in order to help us get a clearer picture of disease in the wildlife population.
“With all this in mind, it was encouraging to see so many young people here, actively engaging in their future and sharing information. And I thank the Rees family for welcoming us to their farm and hosting this event.”
Speaking after the visit, FUW member Michael Williams, a dairy farmer from Puncheston, said: “This was my first FUW event and it was beneficial to catch up with other farmers. It was good to have the opportunity to meet farmers from other strands of the industry too - I’m a dairy farmer and there were a lot of beef and sheep guys here. It’s good to hear what their views are on issues, because we are all linked one way or another.
“In addition, events like this - focused on young farmers, show that even though there is a perception of an ageing industry, there were plenty of young ones here today, which is encouraging. I certainly hope to attend the next FUW Academy event.”
Joining the FUW Academy from Llanelli was Rosie Davies, who farms beef and sheep. She said: “This was a very educational visit and I learnt a lot. I got the chance to speak to a few of the farmers who farm in the area and they face the same difficulties as us. I’m concerned about the uncertain future we face, especially with Brexit. Where will we be this time next year? But I’m trying to run the farm business with my parents as best as we can and make the most out of every opportunity. So events like this, where we get the chance to speak to politicians, as well as share notes with other farmers are useful.”
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