The Celebration of Welsh Food & Farming event in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday 20 June saw Welsh farming union NFU Cymru launch its Framing the future for the next generation report with MSs in the Senedd. The launch was kindly sponsored by Sam Kurtz MS and was one of a number of events NFU Cymru has co-ordinated as part of the first ever Celebration of Welsh Food & Farming Week.
The Framing the future for the next generation report celebrates the contribution of young farmers in Wales and features key recommendations as to how Welsh Government can support the next generation of farmers in Wales. Those asks of government include:
- Specific asks from the future Sustainable Farming Scheme in relation to supporting the active farmer, smooth transition and the use of capital grants
- Exploring opportunities to make it easier for new and young entrants to access finance
- Prioritising home-produced food and public procurement
- Local authorities recognising the importance of the council farm network
- Ensuring Welsh farming is portrayed accurately in the school curriculum and that children are given the opportunity to experience where their food comes from.
Forging a future
To illustrate some of the issues affecting Wales’ young farmers, the new report features case study profiles of four members of NFU Cymru’s Next Generation Group, all of whom are currently forging a future for themselves in the agricultural industry. The focuses on sheep dairy farmer Bryn Perry (Pembrokeshire), beef and sheep farmer Jessica Williams (Meirionnydd), first generation sheep farmer Ernie Richards (Brecon & Radnor) and dairy farmer Susie Mottershead (Clwyd) showcase each farmer’s progression through the industry, while also shining a light on the challenges they have faced.
During the launch event, Susie Mottershead also took to the Senedd stage alongside fellow NFU Cymru Next Generation Group members Jâms Morgan (Ceredigion) and Carys Jones (Monmouthshire) to tell Members of the Senedd about their passion for agriculture and their hopes for the industry’s future.
I am the ninth generation of my family to farm our land. After University I spent a brief period working and traveling through New Zealand gaining experiences on large dairy herds. I’m passionate about sustainable farming practices in particular within the dairy industry and tackling climate change. Outside the farm I spend my time kayaking having played canoe polo for the Welsh under 21 team.
I joined the dairy farm business during lockdown 2020 following a career break to have children. Prior to this I had worked in sales and account management roles in FMCG.
After joining the partnership, I took on full time calf rearing and all care of young stock. It is possibly one area of dairy farms which I have always believed is not given the focus and dedication it warrants. Consequently, I placed calf care firmly at the heart of our farm business.
My data driven approach to calf care has enabled us to drive significant improvements not only to calf health but also to the efficiency of our calf rearing practices. Being relatively new to farming I have been lucky enough to be aided by a fantastic team of vets, and industry contacts who have supported me on my steep learning curve. One of my biggest achievements to date was winning the silver award for dairy innovation at the British Farming Awards in October 2021.
Carys started investing in her own pedigree animals at the age of 17, and has a real passion for genetics, showing and the promotion of the Holstein breed.
She completed the RABDF Entrepreneurs in Dairying Course in 2020 and was awarded the RWAS Oxford Farming Conference Scholarship in 2019. She has been an active member of both Gwent YFC and South Wales Holstein Young Breeders Club, competing in National stockjudging, public speaking and drama competitions.
Carys is a keen advocate of UK agriculture, using social media platforms to engage and educate consumers about the story behind their food.
Agriculture (Wales) Bill debate
The NFU Cymru Celebration of Welsh Food & Farming event coincided with the final debate on the Agriculture (Wales) Bill in the Senedd chamber. Once passed, the Agriculture (Wales) Act will establish the framework for future agricultural policy and will define farming in Wales for a generation or more.
It's #WelshFarmingWeek - join us to celebrate our great industry and those that work within it 🏴 Our poem is recited by some of our wonderful Next Generation Group members.— NFU Cymru 🚜 (@NFUCymru) June 19, 2023
Mae hi'n #WythnosFfermioCymreig - dewch i ddathlu ein diwydiant gwych a phob un sy'n gweithio ynddo. pic.twitter.com/01z1BD436X
NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “Today’s debating of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill is another reminder that this is a landmark piece of legislation that is going to define farming in Wales for decades to come. One of the main reasons that we’ve lobbied so hard throughout the legislative process is because it is critical that the Agriculture (Wales) Act effectively supports the next generation of active farmers in Wales.
Encapsulating the passion
“It has been a pleasure to work alongside members of the NFU Cymru Next Generation Group in the production and launch of our Framing the future for the next generation report. This document perfectly encapsulates the passion and enthusiasm of young farmers in Wales while also representing many of the barriers hindering the progression of young talent in the industry. We ask that Members of Senedd consider and adopt the recommendations in this report and work with the industry to help implement a policy landscape that allows the Welsh agricultural sector to thrive for generations to come.
“Our young farmers are likely to face significant challenges in the future, not least feeding a growing population against the backdrop of a changing climate. However their enthusiasm for Welsh farming is inspiring and they are united in their determination to continue producing high quality, traceable, affordable food and wider economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits for all the people of Wales, whilst meeting our ambition for 2040 net zero.”