Success stories

Success stories...young farmers making their way into the industry:

Damien Burnell, 25, Arable Manager at Penllyn Farm Estate, Llwynhelig, Cowbridge

DamienBurnellDuring the first 12 years of my life, I moved fairly frequently from my home in Wales to various destinations around the world due to my father’s work commitments. I’ve always had friends linked to farming however I have no immediate connections in the industry.

I began working on the estate with Mr Homfray during school holidays at the age of 15 and eventually was offered a full time position a year later. In order to progress in my career, along with some financial sponsorship from Mr Homfray, I decided to return to education at Harper Adams University. I recently graduated with a degree in Agriculture and Crop Management and with this have now been appointed the Crops Manager for the 2,300 acre estate.

I don’t come from a farming background but have a passion for agriculture as well as the politics surrounding the industry. It’s a known fact that agriculture is a difficult industry to enter if you don’t have any family ties however, from my experience at Harper Adams, it’s often the individuals with no prior background that tend to see agriculture in a different light.

My tips to anyone thinking of a career in the agricultural industry are:

  • Be passionate

  • Learn the science of agriculture

  • Learn the business of agriculture

  • Get stuck in!

Lindsay Davies, 30, & Joseph Hughes, 25, Tenant Farmers on a Council Farm in Glasbury

Lindsay and JoeJoe and I consider ourselves very fortunate to have been awarded the tenancy of our 105 acre Council farm. On the viewing day there were swarms of people in brand new 4x4 vehicles and, in our minds, far more equipped to gain the tenancy than ourselves. With only a VW caddy van and 12 texel sheep to our name, we were surprised to be shortlisted. After one stressful weekend writing a business plan and an interview later, the tenancy was ours from March 2012.

We then set about purchasing single farm payment, some in lamb ewes and a batch of 15 calves to rear on the bucket- our future suckler herd. The YESS scheme enabled us to purchase a tractor and a stock trailer. It doesn’t come without its difficulties however for new entrants such as ourselves, you need a 5 year tenancy with no break clause and find £30,000 up front! Joe and I both work off the farm full time which is how we have been able to finance setting up the business. Annual leave is saved for lambing and weekends are consumed by farm work.

Two years on and the calves are now heifers with calves at foot and we have built the flock up to 300 sheep. In the future we would love the opportunity to rent a bigger farm so that at least one of us could farm full time.

Our top tips to anyone looking to apply for tenancy are:

  • Write a realistic business plan

  • Don’t give up, every application form and interview is good experience and ask for feedback

  • Take advantage of any funding and support available

Meilir Jarrett, 25, Tenant Farmer, Yr Ysgwrn, Trawsfynydd

Meilir a JessI've held the tenancy on Yr Ysgwrn farm since November 2012,which was also home to the poet Hedd Wyn.Itis a mountain farm which comprises of 170 acres of agricultural land much of it rough grazing, common grazing rights on the adjoining Llechwedd Gain, outbuildings, along with hefted livestock including 200 Welsh ewes and five Welsh Black suckler cows crossed with a Limousin bull.

I am delighted that Snowdonia National Park Authority gave me the opportunity to start farming. I’m lucky to be able to work within my square mile, but also in such a well-known and important property in terms of Welsh history and culture.

I’m now over 18 months into my tenancy and my main aim is to re-introduce traditional techniques of managing the farm, with a modern inclination to sustainably increase the unit’s productivity. My aim is to put in place a livestock improvement programme to meet today’s market requirements using breeds that are suitable for the farm in this high rainfall area. The traditional boundaries and conservation features will be maintained and improved over time through the Glastir Entry Level Scheme and I am currently looking at my options for entering the Glastir Advanced Level next year.

My advice to young farmers would be don’t be daunted and put off entering the industry, there is help and support available for young people wanting to start off in farming and I’d encourage anyone to make the most of the help that is on offer. Go for it!


Caryl Hughes, 24, Llyndy Isaf Scholarship Winner 2013

Caryl HughesThe Llyndy Isaf Scholarship is a partnership between National Trust Eryri and Wales YFC which gives a Wales YFC member the opportunity to become farm manager for the year.

Llyndy Isaf – is an iconic 614-acre upland farm in the Nant Gwynant Valley, Snowdonia owned by the National Trust Eryri.

For me it was a once in a lifetime opportunity after all it’s not every day you get the chance to farm an iconic 614-acre upland farm in the Nant Gwynant Valley, Snowdonia.

After graduating I applied for the scholarship because I was unsure where I wanted to go within the agricultural industry. Initially I was a bit nervous of the challenges that lay ahead, especially because it hadn’t been farmed for a number of years, but once I arrived I got my teeth into things and have enjoyed every minute of my experience.

The Llyndy Isaf Scholarship has boosted my confidence and I can safely say my future is in agriculture. Whether that’s managing another farm or returning home one day to manage our family farm in Dyffryn Ceiriog -I will definitely be farming.

Last edited: 11:03 on 04 January 2016

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