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Farming

FUW’s ‘Buy The Welsh One’ campaign reaches the Sahara

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saharaTHE FARMERS’ Union of Wales’ “Help Cut Food Miles…Buy The Welsh One” message already promoted in a variety of events at the Welsh Assembly, House of Lords and European Parliament has cropped up – in the middle of the Sahara Desert. 

That’s because the union’s Anglesey county branch was a sponsor of Sian Pierce Roberts, of Cefn Arthen, Brynsiencyn, who has just returned from a seven-day, 115km camel trek through the Sahara where she proudly wore the FUW’s “Buy The Welsh One” campaign tee-shirt. Her father Gwyn and mother Nerys are FUW members and Nerys runs the “Pobty’r Bryn” award-winning bakery renowned for its Bara Brith, Taffi Triog (treacle toffee), oat cakes and shortbread. Sian, who recently started working as a midwife after completing a BA course in midwifery at Bangor University, took part in the sponsored Sahara Trek to raise money for SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society). “Since working as a midwife, I have become familiar with the SANDS charity who do a wonderful job providing support for parents, families and friends who have lost a baby,” she said. “The charity supports further research that endeavours to reduce these numbers. “Whilst I’m still young and healthy, I decided that I wanted to help the charity and agreed to participate in the ‘trek’ through the Sahara desert. It was a memorable experience, to say the least. “I had to raise a minimum sponsorship of ?2,250 towards the trip, so I decided to organise events such as concerts, bag packing in supermarkets and barbecues. I wanted to raise money through events where the public would gain something back. “Throughout the 18 months of fund-raising, I received great support from a variety of people, such as local businesses, friends and family and I’m extremely grateful to the FUW for sponsoring me.” In her spare time, Sian enjoys taking part in young farmers’ competitions and is the current chairman of the YFC movement in Anglesey. “Bodedern YFC organised a party and Rhosybol YFC organised a pancake night with the proceeds going towards sponsoring the trip, so I am extremely grateful to them all for the support. “Before setting off I didn’t know anyone on the trip, so I met 20 people for the first time at Heathrow airport on the morning of March 8. We all came from different backgrounds, jobs and parts of the UK but all of us had one thing in common – we were all there to raise money for a charity close to our hearts. “Within days we all became firm friends as we were with each other 24 hours a day for nine days, and we’d support and encourage each other throughout the journey. I organised the trip through a London company called Skyline, so as well as the 21 people we also had three team leaders, three men who would be in charge of the camels, two chefs and one doctor – so we were in safe hands! “We flew from Heathrow to Casablanca, which is at the top of Morocco, then an hour’s flight from Casablanca to Ouazazate, and a fivehour bus ride to the desert, where we met seven camels who were also venturing on the journey to carry our water, bags, food packages and the doctor’s package. “We were about to walk for seven days, with two travelling days either side. From day to day, we got up by 6am, had breakfast and then start walking. We walked for about four to five hours in the morning and two to three hours in the afternoon – apart from one day, when we got a little bit lost, so we walked for 11 hours! “It’s safe to say we definitely completed the 100km but the leader thought it was close to 115km by the end of the trip. The trip varied on a daily basis. The sand piles got bigger and bigger the further we got into the desert, and if we were walking on a flat piece, the ground got dusty, with small and large stones under foot. “There were a few things that would complicate your day and they affected everyone in different ways. One thing I noticed was that we take simple things like clean water, showers and electricity for granted. I’ve never used so many baby wipes and dry shampoo! “It was approximately 30 degrees and the temperature would drop down to freezing during the night. So we had to wrap up warm and make sure that we had a good sleeping bag! I did expect it to be boiling hot but, to be honest, it was not too bad as there was a nice breeze whilst we were walking. “But one of the things I did not expect was the rain – and, sure enough, one night we had heavy rain – and we were in bed by 8pm! The leader informed us the next day, of all the years he has worked in the desert, only once has he experienced rain in the Sahara! “We had been advised prior to the start of the trip to bring ski glasses with us, in the event of a sandstorm.? And sure enough, I experienced three storms whilst I was in the Sahara and they were very vigorous! “It was extremely difficult to walk through these sandstorms as we could only see two feet in front of us! Although I did not want a storm and rain, I’m glad I’ve had these experiences to add to the adventures of the trip. “The chefs and the camel crew would put two tents up every night – one to cook in and one to eat in – and they would always prepare a feast for us. “In the mornings, if we were lucky, we had bread and porridge for breakfast, salad and fruit for lunch and a three-course meal that included soup, vegetables, meat and fruit for dinner. The food was wonderful and it was miraculous what the crew could achieve in such a small tent. “The trip is an experience to remember. I’ve had the privilege of seeing a foreign country, meeting people from different backgrounds and, most importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to raise money for a great charity! “I’d like to thank everyone for all their support, and with their help I’ve raised ?3,400 for SANDS.” Sian will be telling the story of her fund-raising Sahara trek when she attends FUW Anglesey’s annual general meeting on Thursday June 26 (7.30pm) at Tafarn-y-Rhos, Rhostrewfa, as a guest speaker.

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Farming

Farmers warned to not cut corners as pressure mounts to get work done

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FARMERS will be under more pressure than ever during cultivation and harvesting this season, after challenging weather delayed operations, but the Wales Farm Safety Partnership (WFSP) warns that health and safety must not be compromised.

From the maintenance of machines before they are used to being aware of the height of overhead electricity cables, there are multiple considerations for farmers at what can be their busiest few months.

Brian Rees, a farmer who is also a trainer and mentor in health and safety at Farming Connect, gives advice on some of the key areas that must not be overlooked.

1.     Maintenance

It will often be the first time in months that some machines have been put to work so important maintenance assessments need to be done before they are operated.

Check brakes on tractors and implements and tyre pressures too.

Grease moving parts such as hitching systems.

Ensure that oil levels are high so that oil pressure isn’t lost when the machine is operating.

2.     Safe stop

When parking a vehicle, always apply the handbrake, engage the gear system in neutral, turn off the engine and remove the key.

If there is a loader or other implement on the front, always lower this before turning the engine off.

3.     Check stocks of in-cab items

Every farm vehicle, from tractors to combine harvesters, should have a first aid kit in its cab and also plenty of drinking water.

Most people now have a mobile phone and it is most important than ever to carry this during field work.

4.     Lone working

Technology has provided some important tracking tools for farmers working in isolated locations.

Apps such as Find My Friends and Life 360 provide live updates on where the phone – and farmer – are located.

Farmers should always let someone know where they are working and the approximate time they expect to return.

5.     Working on slopes

Keep vehicles in four-wheel drive and ensure the weight of the vehicle is on the gripping wheels – that means on the lower side of how the vehicle is positioned on the slope.

Having the correct tyre pressure is more important than ever when operating machines on more challenging terrain.

Always wear a seatbelt when in the cab.

6.     Using the road safely

Larger machines can straddle the highway on double carriageways so appropriate safety measures need to be taken, including having convoy vehicles to warn other motorists.

This is sensible on smaller country roads to, to avoid congestion or meeting oncoming vehicles when there is no room to pass, and to check the road ahead for potential obstructions.

Although there is no law dictating when slow-moving vehicles should pull over to allow other road users to pass, the guidance is to do so at the next appropriate spot when there are six vehicles behind.

7.     Beware of overhead power cables

Lines that have up to 32 kV of power must have a minimum ground clearance of at least 5.2m, and lines with up to 132 kV should be 6.7m or more from the ground.

What many farmers might not take into account though is that power cables can drop during hot weather, sometimes by half a metre, so this needs to be considered when working near them.

8.     Be seen on the highway

By law, farm vehicles must be fitted with a flashing beacon when they are travelling along an unrestricted dual carriageway but it is sensible to have this on a country road too, to warn other road users of a slow moving vehicle.

A second beacon might be needed if a tractor is towing a high-sided trailer or machine as the beacon, which must be seen from 360 degrees, could be obscured.

Never use a tractor’s working lights on the highway at night as the glare of these will cause dazzle for motorists travelling in front or behind.

9.     Keep children safe

Children should only ever be in a working area on a farm when they are 100% supervised by a responsible person who is not part of the working team.

Children under 13 should never ride in the cab of any agricultural machine.

10.  Fire prevention

Any dust or chaff on harvesting equipment presents a fire hazard so ensure that any these are blown off regularly to prevent build-up.

11.  Fatigue

The hours can be long during cultivation and harvesting so it is important to be aware of the signs of fatigue and to take a break when these start to set in.

It can be sensible to have changeovers of staff operating machines – for example in a harvesting situation, the combine or forage harvester operator will be working continuously while the tractor drivers might have the opportunity of a short break between loads. Switch between the two if the drivers have the relevant expertise.

12.  Protect against heat and sun

Harvesting ideally takes place when the weather is warm and sunny but with heat and sun come the need for frequent hydration and sun protection.

Drink plenty of water, wear sun cream and a hat, and keep arms and legs covered during the hottest part of the day.

13.  Be visible in the yards

Ensure that any pedestrians who are, for example directing drivers into pits, are wearing hi-vis clothing so that they can be clearly seen.

Minimise reversing manoeuvres; while these can’t be eliminated entirely they can be reduced and this is important as the biggest killer on farms is people being run over or crushed by a moving vehicle.

Some new models of tractors and trailers are now fitted with reversing alarms.

For more advice, come and see us at the RWAS Sustainable Grassland and Muck event at Trawscoed Farm on the 30th May 2024.

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Farming

Simon Hart calls for a Sustainable Farming Scheme that delivers

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FURTHER delays to the introduction of new farming subsidies in Wales have met with a cautious welcome.

Following widespread protests from farmers, Welsh Labour Rural Affairs Secretary, Huw Irranca-Davies, has announced the Sustainable Farming Scheme will now be put on hold until 2026.

The decision has been welcomed by former Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP. The candidate for Caerfyrddin says the Welsh government must now work closely with farmers – and not against them.

He said: “We are told this decision shows the Plaid Cymru / Welsh Labour Cooperation administration is listening to farmers concerns. In my opinion, they should have been listening to them from the get-go and these proposals should never have been included by Plaid Cymru as part of their co-operation agreement.

“Whilst I appreciate this pause gives the Welsh government more time to get this vital scheme right, it also prolongs uncertainty in an industry that is at the very heart of our economy.

“We now need to see real progress, with the Plaid Cymru / Welsh Labour cooperators working at pace, alongside people who know the industry, to deliver a scheme that brings real benefits to our farmers.”

After a series of delays, the Sustainable Farming System was meant to come into operation in April 2025.

Rules that meant 10% of land needed to be covered by woodland and 10% earmarked for wildlife habitat caused widespread protests and led to claims that 5,000 jobs could be lost from the industry.

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Farming

PAS launches search for farm employees deserving Long Service Awards

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FARM and estate workers from Pembrokeshire, who have been employed on the land for 25 years or more, can be nominated for the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society’s Farm Employee Long Service Award 2024.

The President and Trustees of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society wish to offer inscribed Awards to both male and female workers who have not received a Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society Farm Employee Long Service Award previously.

There were two recipients for the inscribed Awards at last year’s County Show: Darran Davies from Scleddau, Fishguard and Richard Davies from Treffgarn Owen, Haverfordwest.

The 2024 Long Service Awards presentation will take place on Wednesday, 14 August at 4pm, in the President’s Pavilion at the Pembrokeshire County Show and the Award recipient and guest will receive complimentary entry tickets to the show.

Adam Thorne, President of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society said, “It gives us great pleasure as a Society to reward those who have been employed for such a significant amount of time by one employer in the county. We recognise what an achievement this is and it deserves an award. We are very much looking forward to receiving applications for this year’s Long Service Award. The decision of the committee will be final.”

Conditions of the Award being given are:

1. The recipient must, on the first day of the Annual Show, have been in service for 25 years on the same farm continuously, or continuously in the service of the same employer within Pembrokeshire.   

2. The employer must be a member of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society for the present year.

For those eligible to apply please complete the online application form and return it by 31 July 2024. If you are unable to complete the form online please contact the Show office on: 01437 764331. To apply online please click here: Long Service Award | Pembrokeshire County Show | Pembs Agricultural Society (pembsshow.org)

Pembrokeshire County Show, the largest county agricultural show in Wales, will take place on 14 and 15 August 2024. Earlybird e-tickets and Society membership details are available on the website: www.pembsshow.org

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