Members of Eryri and Meirionnydd Young Farmers Clubs, as well as NFU Cymru and the FUW, recently had the opportunity to hear from two of the General Election prospective candidates at Porthmadog Football Club.
Liz Saville Roberts and Tomos Dafydd Davies, from Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives respectively, came along to address a strong audience of farmers who were keen to hear about both parties' vision for the industry.
Members took the opportunity to put questions to the candidates which focused on rural banking, financing agri-businesses, as well as environmental issues, and law and order.
But Brexit was undoubtedly the main themes of the evening with the issues raised all revolving around the potential effects of leaving the European Union, on the livelihood of the electorate.
Farmers from Ceredigion turned out in force to quiz general election candidates at a hustings organised by the local Farmers’ Union of Wales branch and Ceredigion YFC.
The event, which was held on Wednesday 4 December at Lampeter Rugby Club and chaired by YFC Young Farmer of the Year Endaf Griffiths, heard from Ben Lake - Plaid Cymru, Mark Williams - Liberal Democrats, Dinah Mullholland - Labour, Amanda Jenner - Conservatives, Chris Simpson - Green Party and Gethin James - Brexit Party.
Speaking after the event, FUW Ceredigion County Chairman Morys Ioan said: “ I would like to thank everyone who attended the hustings and used the opportunity to find out what each of candidates have to offer in terms of agriculture and their thoughts on wider farming matters.
“We had a very interesting and lively discussion on a number of agricultural topics, mainly Brexit, TB and what the future of agriculture could bring for young farmers. I hope our members now feel better placed to make an informed decision when they take to the polls in just a few days time.”
Farmers from Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire came together to quiz general election hopefuls in an agricultural husting event, which was held at Carmarthen Athletic Rugby Club, on Monday 2 December.
The well-attended event, which was hosted in partnership with NFU Cymru and Carmarthenshire YFC, heard from Simon Hart (Conservative), Marc Tierney (Labour), Alistair Cameron, Welsh Liberal Democrats and Dr Rhys Thomas Plaid Cymru, as the candidates outlined their party policies before the floor was opened to questions from the audience.
FUW Carmarthen chairman Philip Jones said: “I would like to thank the candidates who joined us on the night for their contributions and the thought-provoking conversations.
“It was by no means a single subject discussion and our farming members engaged with the candidates about some of the more local issues that affect their livelihood and community.
“I hope our members now have a clearer idea of what the parties are offering and feel that they can make an informed decision when they take to the polls in a few days time.”
Farmers from Montgomeryshire are invited to join an election hustings, organised by the local Farmers’ Union of Wales branch, to quiz General Election hopefuls about #FarmingMatters.
The hustings, which will take place on Monday 9 December at Welshpool Livestock Market, starting at 12.30 pm, will give members the opportunity to hear from the candidates about their respective parties’ policies for agriculture.
Confirmed speakers are Craig Williams - Conservatives, Kait Duerden - Labour, Gwyn Wigley Evans - Gwlad Gwlad and Kishan Devani - Liberal Democrats.
FUW Montgomeryshire County Chairman Bryn Francis said: “In a period of political uncertainty, where our future trading relationship with the European Union remains unclear, this is an important opportunity for every farmer to quiz their prospective member of parliament on how they view the way forward.
Nestled just outside of the small Pembrokeshire village of Puncheston, near Haverfordwest, is Fagwrfran East farm, home to the Williams family, and 150 dairy cows.
Here Michael Williams farms with his parents Gareth and Annette, producing milk for cheese on a First Milk contract. When the family bought the farm in 1981, it was derelict and hadn't been farmed for a few years. It had been mainly a beef and sheep farm but as Gareth and Annette had both come from dairy farms, and dairy was their passion, it was converted to a dairy farm.
Gareth and Annette started milking with a few cows in a second hand 8 abreast parlour. They progressively built the dairy herd up and whilst Michael studied for his A levels they installed a 10/20 swing over herringbone style parlour.
Michael returned home to the farm in 2006 after completing a Master degree in Exploration Geology at Cardiff University and after a few years became a partner with his parents in the business.
The farm continued to grow with investment in buildings, silage pits, slurry storage and lately the Robotic Dairy. Since January 2017 the herd has been milked by DeLaval VMS robots with a third robot installed in the summer of 2018.
Taking a group of young farmers for a tour of the farm, as part of the FUW Academi organised by the Union’s Pembrokeshire branch, Michael explains some of the benefits of doing things differently.
The implications of a ‘hard Brexit’ and fear of losing free access to the EU’s Single Market, as well as the pivotal role farming families play in keeping the Welsh economy going, were highlighted by the Langford family from Tredegar in a meeting with local AM and former Welsh Agricultural Minister, Alun Davies.
Wayne, his wife Tracy and daughter Emily, farm at Penrhyn Farm, Nantybwch, Tredegar, which is situated 1,100 feet above sea level at the head of the Sirhowy valley.
The typical family farm extends to 140 acres, half-owned, half tenanted, plus hill rights on the Llangynidr Common and is home to 300 Talybont type Welsh Mountain ewes plus followers, which are kept together with 20 Galloway cross Angus Suckler cows.
Wayne regards the Brexit negotiations pivotal to the future of Welsh Hill farms and was keen to highlight the vital role farmers play in preserving the rural economy.
Speaking on farm, he said: “Farming matters in so many ways that are seldom realised. Not only do farms produce food but they are also the cornerstone of our rural economies. Family farms, in particular, are at the heart of our rural economy, caring for our landscape, and of course our culture.
“They make innumerable other contributions to the well-being of Wales and the UK. Central to such benefits is the production of food and the improvement in domestic food security.
“All those businesses who supply essential services, materials, and machinery to farmers, through to the farmers themselves and their products, to the processors who turn them into food, and the consumers themselves, have a critical part to play in our rural economy. And that is at stake if we get Brexit wrong.”