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Committed to the future, remembering history



Sharing memories and comparing notes are (l-r): Roy Edwards, founder member of the union in 1955 Mr T Llew Jones MBE, FUW president Glyn Roberts and Nerys Edwards

Sharing memories and comparing notes are (l-r): Roy
Edwards, founder member of the union in 1955 Mr T Llew
Jones MBE, FUW president Glyn Roberts and Nerys Edwards

THE FARMERS’ UNION  OF WALES celebrated its 60th  anniversary on Tuesday, December  8 with a trip down memory lane.  Sharing memories and comparing  notes on the state of the industry were  Roy and Nerys Edwards and their four  sons, of Groesasgwrn, Llangynderyn,  Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire and Mr T  Llew Jones MBE, a founder member  of the union in 1955.  The couple joined the FUW in  May 2015 – making them the newest  and one of the ‘youngest’ FUW  members in the founder county.

Roy was the winner of Fferm  Factor for the year 2014 and Nerys’  time is split between being actively  involved in the running of the home  farm, helping her husband and  keeping a successful occasion cake  business ‘Cacennau Moethus’.  The informal visit gave the couple  and FUW president Glyn Roberts,  who also attended the visit, the chance  to explore the different views of those  who were actively involved in the setup  of the FUW 60 years ago and those  who have just joined the organisation.

“Farming has changed  dramatically over the last 60 years  and it was interesting to hear about the  challenges the farming community  faced in 1955 and how these compare  to the struggles but also opportunities  the current generation of farmers  deal with,” said FUW president Glyn  Roberts.  Many stories were shared over  cups of tea and wonderful homemade  cake and Glyn Roberts  particularly enjoyed looking through  old photographs with Llew Jones.  He said,” It was inspiring to hear  the stories of how the FUW was  founded back in 1955 – and how  determined our Welsh ancestors were  to fight for Welsh farming and the  small family farm.”  The evening celebration at the  Halliwell Centre in Carmarthen was  well attended by FUW staff old and  new and many members.

Guest speaker the Rt Hon. the  Lord Morris of Aberavon KG QC,  who was actively involved with the  formation of the FUW as the union’s  legal adviser and deputy general  secretary between 1956 and 1958,  talked about how the FUW was  formed and reminded guests that the  union was born out of the frustration  felt by Welsh farmers, when their  needs and voices were not being  heard by the Westminster Parliament.  It was down to their dream of  having a Welsh farming union he  said and the tenacity of these Welsh  entrepreneurs that the FUW has  been given the official right by the  Government to represent and speak  on behalf of Welsh farmers and the  union has done so at the highest level  – at the National Assembly, Whitehall  and Brussels ever since.  Speaking at the dinner, union  president Glyn Roberts added that,  “We are here today because of the  vision of the founder members who  have worked so hard.  “It is an overwhelming honour to  stand in front of you as president of  this union, but that honour also has  great responsibilities and a duty, not  only to those that have fought so hard  in the past, but also to those that will  take over from us in future.”

The president further added that  Shakespeare once said that Owain  Glyndwr was not like most men,  he had a vision. We can proudly  say the same about the pioneers of  the FUW. Their vision was to have  an independent voice for Welsh  agriculture; an union that spoke for  them, and which had the interest of  Welsh farmers at its core.  “I have no doubt in my mind that  all of us will do everything we can to  honour those founding members and  ensure that their vision of a strong  voice for the industry remains at the  core of the FUW’s principles.”  Carmarthen county executive  officer David Waters, who was  heavily involved in organising the  evening function, said “I would like  to thank all the staff for helping  to organise such an enjoyable and  successful dinner.  “We also held a raffle to  raise money for the British Heart  Foundation Cymru and I am very  pleased to say that we have raised  £1,600 for the cause.”

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Farming faces zero carbon challenge



AN AMBITIOUS new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 will lead to significant changes in farming practices over the coming decades, according to a leading agri-environment specialist.

Professor Iain Donnison, Head of the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, was responding to the publication of ‘Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming’ published by the UK Government Committee on Climate Change.

Professor Donnison is an expert on agriculture and land use, which feature in the report in terms of targets for one-fifth of agricultural land to be used for forestry, bioenergy crops and peatland restoration.

According to Professor Donnison, such a reduction is very ambitious but achievable in Wales and the wider UK. “Land use can positively contribute towards achieving the net zero targets, but there are challenges in relation to emissions from agriculture especially associated with red meat and dairy,” said Professor Donnison.

“In IBERS we are already working on how to make livestock agriculture less carbon intensive and developing new diversification options for the farming of carbon. For example, net zero targets could provide significant diversification opportunities for both farmers and industries that make use of biomass and wood for the production of energy, materials including in construction and for wider environmental benefits.”

Professor Donnison added: “The report gives a clear message regarding the importance of the task and the role that the UK can play to compensate for past emissions and to help play a leadership role in creating a greener future.

“The report says it seeks to be based on current technologies that can be deployed and achievable targets. One-fifth of agricultural land is a very ambitious target but I believe that through the approaches proposed it is achievable (e.g. for bioenergy crops it fits in with published targets for the UK). This is based on the knowledge and technologies we have now regarding how to do this, and because right now in the UK we are developing a new agricultural policy that looks beyond the common agriculture policy (CAP). For example, the 25-year Environment plan published by Defra envisages payment for public goods which could provide a policy mechanism to help ensure that the appropriate approaches are implemented in the appropriate places.

“The scale of the change, however, should not be underestimated, although agriculture is a sector that has previously successfully responded to challenges such as for increased food production. The additional challenge will be to ensure that we deliver all the benefits we wish to see from land: food, carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) management and wider environmental benefits, whilst managing the challenge of the impacts of climate change.

“The link is made between healthy diets with less red meat consumption and future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. This reflects that agriculture will likely go through significant change over the coming decades as a result of changes in consumer diets.

“Net Zero targets, however, could provide significant diversification opportunities for both farmers and industries that make use of biomass and wood for the production of energy, materials including in construction and for wider environmental benefits.”

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HSE fees up 20%



A FEE imposed on farm businesses found to be in breach of health and safety legislation has gone up nearly 20% to £154/hr.

Since October 2012 the Health and Safety Executive has operated a cost recovery regime, which means that businesses are charged for the costs of an investigation from the point a material breach has been identified through to the point when a decision is made on enforcement action.

If you are found to be in material breach of health and safety law, you will have to pay for the time it takes the HSE to identify the breach and help you put things right. This includes investigating and taking enforcement action. This charging scheme is known as a Fee for Intervention (FFI).

Robert Gazely, farm consultant and health and safety specialist for Strutt & Parker said: “A material breach is something which an inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken. Once an inspector gives a farmer this written notification of contravention (NoC), the farmer will be expected to pay a fee.

“From 6 April 2019, the hourly charge has been increased from £129 to £154. The final bill will be based on the total amount of time it takes the HSE inspector to identify the breach and their work to help put things right.

“Of course, the primary reason for farms to be proactive in their approach to health and safety should be to protect themselves, their families and any employees.

“The number of people who are killed and injured each year on farms remains stubbornly high and the human cost of these incidents can be incalculable to those affected.

“But taking a safety-first approach should also help farm businesses to avoid a financial hit, as the HSE fees can mount up in the event of an investigation.”

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Red meat gives ‘Taste of Wales’



WELSH Lamb and Welsh Beef were among the finest of Welsh foods at Wales’ largest and most prestigious food and drink trade event, Taste Wales last month.

The remarkable display of products, all under one roof, brought together a large contingent of UK and overseas buyers, including importers with a specific interest in Welsh red meat. These included a major foodservice and retail importer and distributor from Scandinavia that imports 6,000 million tonnes of meat annually from all over the world. The company is recognised for bringing tasty food experiences to Nordic dining tables.

They were invited to the event by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) who also arranged site visits to some of Wales’ major red meat processing plants. The main aim was to impress the importers with the industry’s high ethical and environmental standards.

The visit, led by HCC’s market representatives in Scandinavia, was a platform for many productive and promising discussions.

One representative, Anette Stenebrandt said at Taste Wales: “We have a company from Sweden and Finland with us, trying to do some new business in the Nordic-speaking countries. This is really a fantastic fair and we have enjoyed it a lot.”

Her colleague Jakob True added: “This is our first time here at this amazing event, it’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of Welsh producers, particularly Welsh Lamb which is world-class, we know. We’ll go back to Scandinavia with a lot of good new leads and hopefully bring a lot of business to Wales.”

HCC’s Market Development Manager, Rhys Llywelyn said: “Many of the buyers we met at Taste Wales, including the Scandinavians, showed a significant interest in Welsh Lamb and were impressed by the whole package – from the story of producing Welsh Lamb to the processing techniques, the taste and texture.

“Others also expressed a keen interest in forging deals with the industry, including a Japanese department store, a major buyer from Hong Kong and a representative from Qatar. This bodes well for the future, especially as Brexit uncertainty is set to continue in light of the extension on Article 50.”

In recent months, HCC has undertaken a strategic GB marketing drive to encourage growth and recognition of our quality produce on British soil.

HCC’s UK Market Development Executive, Emily Davies said: “Our presence at Taste Wales also included concentrating our efforts on promoting Welsh Lamb in the domestic market. We met a number of foodservice companies, retailers and executive chefs and discussed Welsh red meat opportunities with meal-kit companies and online retailers. We also launched a new tool-kit for retailers which highlights the ways in which we can work with them to promote Welsh Lamb and Beef.”

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