HOW MANY businesses are involved in the running of a farm and how many people are directly and indirectly employed by the agricultural sector?
How reliant is the rural community really on farming? Those were the questions the Farmers’ Union of Wales asked recently.
We often think about the obvious options, such as feed merchants, sales and auctioneers businesses, farm contractors etc. but how much does just one farm really contribute?
To try and answer these questions Mid Wales farmers John Yeomans, his wife Sarah and son Joe, recently hosted an event that put the spotlight on the importance of agriculture in the rural economy, at their farm Llwyn y Brain, Adfa, near Newtown.
A survey of the businesses that the Yeomans family deal with revealed 2,347 jobs at local and Welsh level and also 225,980 at a wider national level were dependent on the survival of those businesses.
On the farm, the Yeomans family run a herd of 73 cows consisting of pedigree Limousin, Limousin x, Belgian Blue x, and 15 homebred replacement heifers (closed herd).
They further keep 495 ewes which are mainly Beulah and 160 Beulah ewe lambs and the flock has been closed since 1981.
The couple sell Beulah draft ewes and some yearlings, as well as Welsh Mule ewe lambs for breeding and sell finished lambs on a deadweight basis
The 232 acres of owned farmland sit between 750 feet to 1420 above sea level, with 100 acres (34.8ha) of lower land and 132 acres (53.4ha) of largely improved hill land.
A further 53 acres of additional land is rented.
John, who was keen to explore the wider economic impact his business has on the wider rural economy, said: “Following the downturn in agriculture over recent times and across almost all sectors, I wanted to help highlight the importance of a thriving agricultural sector on the economy – both locally and much further afield.
“Farmers are an exceptional conduit for money, so if their businesses are thriving they reinvest and this, in turn, brings wealth and good fortune to others.
“The difficult times we are facing are clearly already impacting on our ancillary and support industries and businesses.
“With this in mind, we were pleased to put the spotlight on all the businesses – both local and further afield – that have some stake in our survival. Our relationship with these businesses is symbiotic and crucial to both our successes.”
ANSWER THE CALL
The event was attended by an array of local businesses and representatives such as Agri-Advisor, Agrimin, Bibby’s, Alpha Plumbers, FUW Insurance Services Ltd., E W Bumford & Co, RVW Pugh Ltd, I Jerman, Binding Tyre Services, Countrywide, Westflight, Morris Marshall and Poole, British Wool Marketing Board, Wynnstay, R G and G R Francis, McCartneys, OPICO, Sainsbury’s, Genus, KiwiKit, Dunbia, E George & Son, Dow AgroSciences, Trefaldwyn Vets, Zoetis, Shearwell Data and HSBC, who play a role in John and Sarah’s daily business routine.
Mr Yeomans said: “I must thank the businesses who came to support the event and those that responded to our short survey for the valuable contribution they make to our business and the wider rural economy.
“Supermarkets and slaughterhouses are just as important in our business as our local garage.
“Over 22% of the employment in Wales is linked to farming or food in some way, so it is worth noting the important role we all play in keeping our economic powerhouse going.
“Individually we may not be making a fortune for our solicitor, bank, garage or anything else. But together we are an important force.
“We hope days like this will help to get the message across about the connection between British food and the many businesses connected to it, why it is worth supporting your local farmer and how much of a difference each individual can make in terms of giving back to the local economy.”
THE ELECTRICAL WHOLESALER
City Electrical Factors (CEF) are one of the businesses the Yeomans family trade with. C.E.F. are a national Electrical Wholesaler supplying businesses the length and breadth of the UK.
The Newtown and Welshpool branches sit in the heart of Mid-Wales and as such are two of the most rural branches in the C.E.F. network.
Across these two branches the company employs 11 staff, and nationally they employ about 2750 members of staff.
Darryl Owen, manager of the two branches, said: “I feel it’s very important to employ local people to serve local people. Many of my staff have strong links to the local agricultural and Farming community.
“For us, in such a rural area, any downturn in agriculture has a serious knock on effect to our business and turnover in Newtown and Welshpool.
“It is not just the direct effect from farming businesses but indirectly through the Electrical Contractors who serve this market sector. We service a very wide and diverse market sector which can all be affected by any downturn in the Farming community.
“Many small industries in Mid- Wales are reliant on a strong agricultural customer base. If these small business begin to struggle they stop spending and that’s a big issue for us.
“The on-going success of C.E.F. in Mid-Wales is undoubtedly linked to the success of our agricultural community. Any effort or campaign that will highlight the importance of a healthy rural economy will definitely have my support.”
RVW Pugh Ltd, an agricultural machinery dealership that specialise in the sales and aftersales of tractors and farm machinery to the agricultural industry, have their head office in Mellington, Mid Wales.
They have two further depots in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Market Drayton, Shropshire.
The company employs 54 employees over the three depots, with 35 of them employed at the head office in Mellington.
Robert Pugh, Managing Director, said: “Agriculture is the backbone of our business, more than 95% of our customers are farmers/contractors. We are obviously feeling the knock on effect of farmers struggling with commodity and produce prices, along with late receipt of single farm payments… at the moment we are owed £1.5m from creditors which fall outside of our 30 day credit terms.
“This obviously puts pressure on our business and holds up cash flow which we could use to further improve and invest in our business during these difficult times.”
Glyn Roberts, FUW President, who attended the event, said: “All the businesses that make the wheel of our rural economy go round have an important role to play in our daily lives and indeed how we all survive and make a living.
“We know that a lot of second and third sector businesses are already struggling as a result of the knock on impact of low agricultural incomes and farmgate prices, and the potential wider impact if there was to be a further downturn in farm incomes could be catastrophic.
“We must remember that agriculture is the powerhouse of the rural economy, generates billions of pounds which benefit a host of industries including many not directly associated with agriculture – something that is clear to see here – today-.
“The impact of the most recent recession on our economy as a whole has been severe, but there can be no doubt that in rural Britain and many of our urban areas the impact has been buffered by the core role agriculture has played in generating income for communities the length and breadth of the UK.
“With this in mind – we as the Farmers’ Union of Wales – will continue to represent and fight for those who make a living off the land and through that, support those second and third sector industries- as we have done since 1955 – in Cardiff, London and Brussels.”
FUW Montgomeryshire County Chairman, Mark Williams, added: “We were keen to explore in more detail how our rural economic powerhouse is sustained by individual farm businesses.
“You’ve got your farm and the people who might be employed on it, whether that is family or external contractors, but it is also about the feed merchants, contractors, machinery dealers, local garages, supermarkets, farm shops, auctioneers, banks and solicitors– all of the businesses that are involved either in a direct or indirect capacity.
“The message going back to consumers across the UK has to be ‘Support your local farmer – Support a thriving rural economy’.”
Appeal for dog walkers to keep pets under control during lambing season
THE LAMBING season is upon us and with many public paths crossing fields of sheep, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is appealing to dog walkers to follow best practice when out in the countryside.
While walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and other public footpaths and bridleways:
Always keep dogs on a short lead and under close control when sheep or any other livestock are present.
Clean up after your dog; bag it and bin it wherever you can or take it away –please do not leave poo bags in the countryside.
National Park Authority Public Rights of Way Officer, Meurig Nicholas said: “If your dog is out of your sight or left out of control, it may chase after, attack or worry sheep. Worried and stressed pregnant sheep can miscarry or abort their lambs.
“Young lambs are also very vulnerable at this time, and can get distressed and even die if they are separated from their mothers or abandoned after being chased by dogs.”
There have also been incidents where dogs have had to be rescued from cliffs because they were not kept under close control.
Mr Nicholas added: “These situations have resulted in emergency services such as the Coastguard and RNLI having to retrieve and rescue dogs. These incidents are avoidable and add unnecessary pressure to our busy emergency services.”
Plan for ‘collaborative approach’ to tackling rural crime issues
THIS week (Mar 9) Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a strategic meeting with key stakeholders to identify collaborative opportunities to tackle rural and wildlife crime in the Dyfed-Powys area.
Following a meeting with the Farming Unions in Wales earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn is keen to establish a Strategic Partnership Working Group with key stakeholders that will aim to identify ways of working collaboratively to tackle some of the rural and wildlife crime issues in Dyfed-Powys.
Dyfed-Powys Police have recently appointed a Sergeant for the Rural Crime Team, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been keen to consult with key stakeholders to gain an input from partners to support the development of a new Rural Crime Strategy for the Force.
Key Stakeholders that were invited to be part of the strategic group include both NFU Cymru and FUW unions, as well as local authorities, National Parks, RSPCA and many others.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I had positive discussions with representatives from both unions earlier this year to highlight some of the rural crime issues in the Dyfed-Powys area.
“One of the priorities identified was the need to take a collaborative approach to tackling rural and wildlife Crime, and the meeting with several key partners today was an opportunity to develop discussions and ideas further”.
Earlier in March, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn published a Rural Crime bulletin, which highlights some of the work that has taken place recently in the Dyfed-Powys area, and cross border collaborative initiatives.
PCC Dafydd Llywelyn noted that this multi agency partnership will aim to build on some of the great work that is already happening, and said; “This meeting today comes a year on from the successful St. David’s Day Conference focusing on Rural Crime that I held at Police Headquarters last year. The last 12 months have been like no other but sadly crime and incidents affecting the rural community have continued.
“Today’s multiagency Strategic meeting was an opportunity to present the new Sergeant for the specialist team, and to discuss a new website that we are developing in partnership with North Wales Police to provide key crime prevention messages to the agricultural industry – the Future Farms Cymru initiative.
“I’m grateful to all partners who attended the meeting today, and I now look forward to take all comments on board as we look to re-energise and refocus the work of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team.”
NFU Cymru ‘responds robustly’ to WG
NFU CYMRU has said that many proposals within the Welsh Government and Defra’s Welfare in Transport consultation will cause significant disruption to livestock transportation in the UK.
In a robust response to the joint Welsh Government / Defra consultation, the union has stressed the significant impact the proposals would have on the livestock and poultry sectors, and raised concerns that if the proposals are implemented, they will fail to deliver any meaningful benefit to animals’ welfare.
Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said: “In order to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the main priorities should be the animal’s fitness to travel, loading and unloading, driver training and experience, rather than the length of the journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.
“We firmly believe that the current regulations for domestic transport already deliver high welfare, as a result of the standards, cleanliness and adaptability to different weather conditions of transport boxes in the UK. But as an industry, we want to strive for even better. We believe that in order to do that there should be more focus on certified training and providing clearer, sector-specific guidance, particularly during loading and unloading rather than what is proposed in the consultation. Good welfare and healthy livestock go hand in hand; safe arrival at a destination, be that at market or abattoir, must be and is a priority.
“The transporting of livestock is an integral part of UK food production. The suggested changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes, while changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs. It will also lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which work against both farming’s and the government’s net-zero targets.
“Turning to the part of the consultation on live exports, we have inputted our views into a proposed NFU assurance scheme, which is detailed in an appendix in the response. This would be extremely effective in delivering welfare outcomes at the same time as maintaining this trade, as assessing the animals’ health and reporting back to producers is a fundamental part of the scheme.”
Richard Williams, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Poultry Group said: “Looking at the month of January for example, over the last three years on average there were 10 days where temperatures were five degrees or less. If the proposals were implemented to stop transport at this temperature, no broilers could be collected off-farm in those days. If we had a prolonged cold snap; this would have a massive effect on the food chain.
“With any policy developments government makes, it is essential they are based on the latest evidence. We have an industry to be proud of, with world-leading standards, and that includes our current transportation requirements for all farmed livestock.”
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