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‘Government and policymakers should be listening to farmers’ says Gareth Wyn Jones in St David’s Day address

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A prominent Welsh farmer is laying down the gauntlet to Mark Drakeford and the rest of the Welsh government if they are to secure a brighter future for the nation.

Gareth Wyn Jones was speaking on the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s YouTube channel in a special broadcast to raise awareness for the wonderful work being done by those looking after the Welsh landscape.

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“Agriculture is a big part of Wales”, announced Gareth, who has lived all his life at Ty’n Llwyfan. Nestled amongst the Carneddau mountains in North Wales, his family have managed the upland farm for 375 years and it’s clear the connection runs deep. “You cannot farm this land without being part of it”, he told GWCT conservationist Lee Oliver, before urging policymakers to “get out on farms and talk to individuals.”

Gareth’s family have managed the upland farm for 375 years (Image: GWCT)
Celebrity farmer Gareth Wyn Jones at his upland farm (Image: GWCT)

Gareth is one of 22 farmers who came together in 2006 to Aber and Llanfairfechan Graziers Society PLC, working together to decide what’s best for the beautiful area they are custodians of. The changes have been remarkable.

“We’re seeing black grouse coming back, red kites came back and where the ponies are grazing, they’re drawing in invertebrates and feeding birds like choughs”, says Gareth.

Despite this, and Gareth’s increasing media presence, not a single politician has come to see what the collaboration has achieved.

Red Kites have returned following collaboration work by 22 farmers in the area (Image: GWCT)
Carneddau mountains in North Wales (Image: GWCT)

While Gareth’s family is almost as much as a part of the hillside as its 200 acres of ancient woodland, he is fighting hard to ensure a better future for those coming into the profession and is deeply concerned about the need to get decisions right: “We are at a massive turning point. There’s a lot of peer pressure to stop livestock farming, but it’s about balance.

“We have to bring the next generation on this land with a fair price for what they’re producing and a fair price for what they’re protecting.”

Gareth says he’s fighting hard for a better future for those coming into the profession (Image: GWCT)

Gareth has featured on various TV shows including BBC productions The Hill Farm and The Family Farm and is sharing his farming experience to over 90,000 followers via his Facebook page and 40,000 followers via his Twitter account.

(Lead image: GWCT)

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Farming

Farming union anger at ‘oat drink’ only option on council’s stand at Eisteddfod… held on dairy farm

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Farmers Union of Wales has met with Ceredigion Council’s leader following concerns about the lack of a cow’s milk option for making smoothies on their stall at the Eisteddfod.

The union said that members of the public raised concerns to it about the lack of cow’s milk as a choice for children who were making smoothies on a stand run by Ceredigion County Council.

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Discussions were held with the leader to understand the reasoning behind the decision to allegedly only offer oat drink, a dairy milk alternative, as a base for the smoothies

An FUW official said that the point was put to the leader that this year’s Eisteddfod was being held on a dairy farm, therefore could they offer an explanation for the dubious choice of using an oat drink from France rather than local fresh milk?

Speaking on behalf of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, the President Glyn Roberts said: “Ceredigion is one of the most famous counties in Wales for producing milk and the industry makes a huge contribution to the economy and culture of the county.

“The Eisteddfod Maes and competing is full of adults and children who come from dairy farms, as well as those who work in the milk industry and the feelings of disappointment and anger about the choice of using oat drink from France rather than local milk is plain to see.”

The Eisteddfod is being held this year on a dairy farm in Ceredigion (Image: FUW)

Although Ceredigion County Council claim that the decision to use oat drinks rather than cow’s milk was based on concerns around maintaining adequate and safe temperatures while storing milk, Mr Roberts said that there were serious concerns to answer about this excuse.

“The Farmers’ Union of Wales-like tens of other organisations-give out cow’s milk regularly on stalls at shows and events and have done so for decades-even at the Royal Welsh Show recently where temperatures soared higher than ever before.

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“There is nothing out of the ordinary about the temperatures we are experiencing this week and so the question still stands, so why has Ceredigion County Council decided to promote oat drinks imported from France rather than locally-sourced milk of the highest possible quality?”

A spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council said in response: “The council has daily cooking demonstrations at the National Eisteddfod focusing on produce from various areas across the county, and offering tea to the public using a local dairy company, Llaeth Llanfair.

“There is also a range of opportunities for children, young people and families to keep fit and participate safely in inclusive and varied activities on the Maes.

“The smoothie bikes are an outdoor activity that requires the ingredients to be a product that can be kept out of the fridge for a while.

“In addition, the council needs to ensure inclusive provisions for children with allergies/intolerances, and this is done by offering drinks options that include cow’s milk, oat drinks, orange juice and water.

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“The decision was taken following the advice of the council’s internal health and safety service due to the risk of children suffering an anaphylactic shock if they happen to have any food allergies.

“All drink options are now available to those who wish to participate on the smoothie bike activity.”

(Lead image: Ceredigion Council)

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Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society launch search for Ambassador-elect

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Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society are looking to appoint an Ambassador for 2023 to help support Officeholders in promoting and meeting the aims of the Society.

This voluntary role will shadow the 2022 Ambassador, Mrs Carys Phillips, at this year’s County Show and other Society events. They will also play an important role in the promotion of the work of the Society, the agricultural industry and rural life in Pembrokeshire. 

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Anyone aged between 18 and 30 and residing in Pembrokeshire can apply for the role. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview on Tuesday, 16 August 2022, at the County Show office. The successful applicant will receive an allowance of £200 and membership of the Society for three years.

Mansel Raymond, Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society President, said, “The Ambassador role is an important one. In order to fulfil the role successfully the applicant must have excellent communication skills and an enthusiasm to carry out required duties. Knowledge of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society and the County Show is desirable. Last year was the first year we opened up applications to all and made the role inclusive to all.”

Carys Phillips was announced as Ambassador at last year’s County Show. Carys grew up on a dairy farm in Llys y Fran and now lives on a beef and sheep farm with her husband in Freshwater East. Carys is a primary school teacher at Ysgol Glannau Gwaun in Fishguard where she teaches years five and six in the Welsh stream.

A keen YFC member of Llys y Fran YFC for over 17 years, Carys was Chairman of the club for two years during the pandemic. She is Pembrokeshire YFC’s County Vice Chairman and also the Rally Queen. 

Carys has fond memories of having always attended every day of the County Show for as far back as she remembers. 

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Carys said, “Being from a dairy farm we never went on holidays as a family but the County Show was our go to holiday. Having had many friends who have gained the Ambassador role in the past, it felt like the right time to go for it and give as much as I can give to the society.”

Carys added, “I hope to help as much as I can in supporting the Society. I’m hoping to bring a close connection between Pembrokeshire YFC members and the Society and think it would be a great achievement if we can work closely as two fantastic agricultural movements in Pembrokeshire. Hopefully, this will bring new and young faces to help the society and the County Show. Working together is key and hopefully we will make strong connections with the young farmers around our county.”

Those interested in applying for the position will need to complete the application form.

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Carmarthen producer wins best sausage in Wales award

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Red Valley Farm in Carmarthen is celebrating coming first in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’s ‘Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2022’ competition, with their wild garlic sausages crowned as the very best bangers in Wales.

Business partners Andy Washbourne and Graeme Carter were delighted with the victory, with the high-flying producers taking the coveted award for the second year running. As winners, they will now automatically qualify for the ‘Champion of Champions’ sausage competition at the UK-wide Butcher Shop of the Year 2023 awards.

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Speaking after winning the title during a special event at the Royal Welsh Show, Graeme Carter said: “It really is an incredible honour to have our sausages named as the very best in Wales. Winning an award like this really makes all the hard work worthwhile and shows that our ethos of producing quality, small-scale and locally produced pork pays off in the end.

“We were really proud of our wild garlic sausages, but it’s still a pleasant surprise to win the title. We had a really good time at the final judging event and the fact that the standard was so high amongst all the shortlisted finalists just goes to show what a fantastic pork industry we have in Wales.

“Since taking over the farm from my parents a few years ago, specialising in rearing pigs has really turned into a passion for me and Andy. We were gifted one boar to help clear the ground following some tree planting and everything has literally grown from there. We just plan to go from strength to strength and concentrate on what we do best, which is quality, sustainably produced pork.

“We’re now really looking forward to be representing Wales at the ‘Champion of Champions’ sausage competition and hope to be crowned the best across the whole of the UK.”

Red Valley Farm pipped Haverfordwest’s Prendergast Butchers and Puff Pigs of Ynysybwl to the title, wowing the panel of judges including leading Welsh food personality Chris ‘Flamebaster’ Roberts.

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Chris said: “Nobody likes a banger more than me and the quality of those that made the final meant it was certainly a pleasure to be on the judging panel.

“It’s always really tough to choose a winner when the standard is so high, but right from the off we were impressed with the wild garlic sausages. They looked the part, the consistency was spot on and they just tasted amazing. Having now had a sample of them I’m pretty keen to get my hands on the recipe myself to try and work out the secret of making sausages taste so good!”

Speaking about his delight at the standard of entries to this year’s competition, Rhys Llywelyn, Market Development Manager at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, said: “It was fantastic to be back at the Royal Welsh Show to hold the awards and the standard of the three finalists certainly didn’t disappoint. However, in the end Red Valley Farm just about came out on top, so a huge congratulations to them and we wish them the best of luck at the UK ‘Champion of Champions’ finals.

“Our small-scale pork producers in Wales have a fantastic story to tell. They specialise in creating a unique, hand-reared product that is often only available to buy directly from themselves and local independent shops, like butchers. This makes it a more sustainable food product, generating fewer food miles, and I’d urge consumers to seek out their local producer and find out for themselves the fantastic quality that’s on offer.”

For more information on pork produced in Wales, and where you can buy it, visit porcblasus.cymru.

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(Lead image: Patrick Olner)

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