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Young Welsh leaders take agricultural future in own hands
Published:  11 December, 2017

A selection of young members of the Welsh agricultural scene have taken steps to secure the future of their industry by outlining their key priorities post-Brexit. 

To get their message across, the group presented a video of their policies, launched by the Farming Connect Agri-Academy Rural Leadership Programme group at the 2017 Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Llanelwedd. 

Among the policies on which the 12 young leaders wanted to see a focus were the use of technology, economics and the promotion of farming, and the Welsh language. 

Challenging the programme members, a panel of industry experts were in attendance to discuss the outlook in a question-and-answer session, quizzing them on how their strategy will be delivered.

The panel included: Alan Davies, managing director of the Farmers’ Union of Wales; Rebecca Williams, Wales director of the Country Landowners Association Cymru; Gareth Williams, head of Future Farming Policy at the Welsh Government; Kevin Roberts, chair of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and John Mercer, director of the National Farmers’ Union Cymru.

To help deliver their proposals, strategies focused on initiatives to make the industry more appealing to young people.

James Evans of Nant Gwynant, Gwynedd, said schemes such as apprenticeships attracted more people into the industry. “It is very important that the industry doesn’t stagnate and that we have the next generation coming through.”

Meanwhile, Awel Mai, a farmer’s daughter and solicitor working for a specialist rural law firm in Welshpool, suggested the government consider providing emergency financial support to farming businesses that are hit hardest by Brexit trade issues outside of their control.

She recommended funding could be in place for three years and subject to a qualifying threshold.

“Farmers, clients and neighbours are all worried about what is going to happen in two years’ time,” she explained. “Financial security is up there with trade in terms of concerns.”

Another idea came from Dafydd Jones, vice-chair of Wales YFC, who urged the government to tackle disparities in the provision of a good communications network.

He added: “Technology is playing a big role in the loss of the rural workforce. I have no telephone signal at home - I have no Gs let alone 5G and it is very restrictive.”

The session was chaired by Professor Wynne Jones OBE FRAgS, chair of the Farming Connect strategic advisory board, who said that the best investments were those made in developing people: “We are reaping the benefits of the Agri Academy programme.”

The Rural Leadership Programme is designed to boost the skills of the next generation of the industry through residential sessions, seminars, workshops and study visits, including a trip to Brussels.

Applications for the next intake opens on 23 January. For more information visit www.gov.wales/farming or contact Einir Davies on 01970 636297 or einir.davies@menterabusnes.co.uk