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Farming

FUW hosts mental health conference

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THE FUW is hosting an All Wales Mental Health Conference on the eve of World Mental Health Day to shed light on the wider context of poor mental health in rural communities.

Taking place online via Zoom on Friday 9 October, the conference will hear from a top panel of speakers. The morning session will explore the wider context of poor mental health in rural communities and what steps need to be taken by Government, decision makers and policy shapers to address the situation, especially as Covid-19 has put further pressure not just on people’s mental health but also their finances.

Speakers for the morning session, which starts at 10.30am and is chaired by Farmers Guardian Chief Reporter Abi Kay, include Sara Lloyd, Team Leader, South Ceredigion Community Mental Health Team; Cath Fallon, Head of Enterprise and Community Animation Enterprise Directorate, Monmouthshire County Council; Lee Philips, Wales Manager, Money and Pensions Service; John Forbes-Jones, Corporate Manager Mental Wellbeing Services, Ceredigion County Council and Vicky Beers from The Farming Community Network.

The afternoon session, which starts at 2pm, will take a practical approach and hear from various dedicated mental health charities offering hands-on advice for those who are supporting a loved one going through mental issues as well as those who are currently experiencing poor mental health.
Speakers for the afternoon session, which is chaired by well-known TV Presenter Alun Elidyr, include Gareth Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Tir Dewi; David Williams, Wales Regional Director, the Farming Community Network; Kate Miles, Charity Manager, The DPJ Foundation and Linda Jones, Regional Manager, Wales RABI.

The event is also supported by Welsh Government’s Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, and New Zealand farmer and mental health champion Doug Avery through video message.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Poor mental health and suicide in rural and farming communities is sadly an increasing problem and one that the FUW has made a commitment to tackle.

“We understand that mental health problems can affect a person’s ability to process information and solve problems, deplete their energy and motivation, and increase impulsive behaviour. Whilst the symptoms are being treated, the root causes of these issues are not so frequently addressed.
“This conference will therefore go beyond the usual points of discussions and explore the subject further. It is an open event and anyone with an interest in mental health is welcome to join us virtually on the day.”

Commenting on the issue, Janet Finch-Saunders MS – the Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy, and Rural Affairs – said: “The sudden and striking impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Wales’ rural communities has once again shone a light on the precarious position that many residents find themselves in, as isolation has been compounded by troubles over public transport links, broadband connections and access to medical treatment.

“Taken together, this has left a marked impact on the mental well-being of rural residents, which is a demographic that typically skews older. From my recent conversations with rural villagers of North Wales, it is plain that many have struggled with loneliness throughout this most challenging period.

“I am also greatly concerned about the impact of the pandemic on our rural farming communities, which has only added to the stresses of this vital sector. A recent shocking analysis of the sector has found that one agricultural worker in the UK takes their own life each week. Some 84% of farmers under 40 also now believe that mental health is the single biggest danger facing the industry.

“We know that entrenched issues with Bovine TB has had a dangerous and regretful impact on farmer’s mental well-being. It is why the Welsh Conservatives have called for a two-pronged approach, which includes dealing with the disease in wildlife. We must work to relieve this unnecessary stress.

“More must be done to support our rural communities in combating the mental health stigma. I have repeatedly urged Lesley Griffiths MS to look at launching a digital awareness campaign that signposts towards counselling and support services, targeted towards farmers and young people across the broader rural community.

“I have also praised the efforts of the Tir Dewi helpline, a bilingual support network which is supported by The Church in Wales (Dioceses of St David’s) and the Prince’s Countryside Fund. This fantastic initiative, showing the excellent role that the charity sector can play, has now expanded its network to include the North of Wales.

“Our rural communities are the guardians and custodians of our land. The Welsh Government must stand with these residents by facilitating access to support networks. They must also take seriously the experiences and challenges that a rural way of life can bring, realising the hugely detrimental impact that any future pandemic restrictions may have.”

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Farming

Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society in search for county’s top progressive farmers

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IF you farm in Pembrokeshire and can demonstrate your farm’s use of the latest technological methods to promote progressive, sustainable agriculture then the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society encourage you to enter the prestigious Baron de Rutzen Award.

Adam Thorne, Pembrokeshire County Show President, said, “We are looking for local Pembrokeshire farmers, under the age of 45, who can demonstrate their farm’s use of the latest technological methods to promote progressive, sustainable agriculture. They also need to show consideration for the environment and habitat sensitivity on their farm as well as present an aesthetically pleasing example of farming in the county. The competition welcomes all livestock and arable sectors to take part.”

Last year’s winners of the Award were Mark and Caroline Davies of Little Newcastle, Haverfordwest. They milk 230 pedigree Holsteins through a fully automated system. They rear their own replacements and also have a small beef enterprise. The farm is all grassland and they follow a strict reseeding and liming policy to optimise the yield from their multi-cut silage system. The couple place significant emphasis on animal health, husbandry and breeding to maximise the efficiency of their system. 

Baron John Fredrick De Rutzen was President of Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society in 1936 and the Baron de Rutzen Trophy was produced in his memory. The third Baron served in the Welsh Guards and tragically died, aged 36, in 1944.   

This year’s entrants must be fully practising farmers within the county of Pembrokeshire and were under the age of 45 years on 1 January 2024. Entries can either be by nomination or direct application online on the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society website. Click here to apply:  Baron de Rutzen Award | Pembrokeshire County Show | Pembs Agricultural Society (pembsshow.org)

The closing date for nominations and applications is at noon on Wednesday, 29 May 2024.

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Farming

Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society elect new president

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ARABLE and beef farmer, Adam Thorne, has been unanimously elected to become the new President of Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society for the year ahead. Adam is the third generation of his family to hold the position.

During the Annual General Meeting of Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society, held last week on the Pembrokeshire Showground, Mr Tim John and his wife Margaret John were also voted in as Presidents elect.

Adam Thorne has had a long association with Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society. After visiting the show as a toddler, then helping show the family’s pedigree Herefords, his uncle got him into helping him with stewarding in his early teens. From there he progressed to being a Steward with his own section, Commercial Cattle, and then also the Butcher’s Lambs section.

From stewarding, Adam became involved with committee work, starting as an Executive and then on to the former Finance and General Purposes Committee. He has been Chairman of the Estates Committee for 12 years and is now a Board member and a Trustee.

Adam said, “I am proud of my long association with Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society. I am the third generation to now be President, following my late grandfather, Walter Thorne, my father, Robert Thorne and more recently my uncle, George Thorne. I am looking forward to my year in the prestigious position.”

Away from his work with the society, Adam runs the family’s arable and beef farm in Robeston West, Milford Haven. He has been heavily involved with Tiers Cross YFC from an early age, having been Club Secretary twice and Chairman. He has also sat on Pembrokeshire County YFC Committees and the Wales YFC Rural Affairs Committee. 

The 2024 Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society officeholders, announced at the AGM, include Miss Ffion Edwards who was awarded the role of Ambassador at last year’s show. Ffion, a nurse from Maenclochog, has enjoyed many years of attending the county show and believes that there are so many good elements to it. Ffion has been a member of Llysyfran YFC for 15 years and enjoys every aspect of young farmers – trying new experiences, competing and travelling to name a few. Mrs Nicola Owen was also elected as the Honorary Treasurer.   

Brian Jones, the outgoing Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society President, took the opportunity to thank everyone who had helped and supported him throughout his presidency. During his year as President, Brian and his wife Helen, raised a tremendous amount of money for various charities including the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society, RABI, Tir Dewi and the DPJ Foundation. Brian also gave his assurances that Castell Howell will continue to sponsor the Food Hall for future years.

Pembrokeshire County Show, the largest county agricultural show in Wales, will be held over two days again this summer on 14 and 15 August. Everyone is invited to attend the celebration of rural life in the county.

Pictured (left to right): Ffion Edwards the Ambassador for 2024; Adam Thorne, President; Margaret and Tim John, the Presidents Elect.

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£1,000 bursary award available to Pembrokeshire agricultural students

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PEMBROKESHIRE Agricultural Society’s £1,000 Bursary Award is now open for applications from students studying agriculture, veterinary science, agricultural engineering, food technology, forestry or other subjects allied to agriculture.

The Student Bursary Award 2024 is available to students, from Pembrokeshire, who are currently studying or have been accepted to start their studies. They can apply for this financial support to assist with their chosen college or career path.

Last year’s winner of the award was Lottie Wilson from Hayscastle. Lottie was studying agriculture at the University of Nottingham when she applied for the bursary. When she is at home she is a general dairy farm worker as well as a lambing hand and a calving beef herd assistant. In 2021 she was the top agriculture student at Hartpury College.

Robert James, Chairman of the Society’s Bursary Committee said, “I would urge all Pembrokeshire students who study subjects that are clearly aligned to agriculture to apply for this bursary as it won’t only assist with your studies but will also give you great experiences such as undertaking an interview which is a key employment skill. It will also assist in your future career within the agriculture industry.”

“A panel of independent judges will draw up a short list of candidates who will be interviewed and the winning candidate will be asked to give a short presentation at a future meeting of the society’s show council.

“The standard of applications has always been exceptional which gives a lot of heart that there are a lot of very talented young people in our community. We are very much looking forward to receiving applications for this year’s bursary and hearing from the younger generation.”  

Qualifying students must not have won the student bursary on a previous occasion, the applicant must be studying or has been accepted to study agriculture or allied subjects at a UK college or university at A-Level or higher and the applicant’s family home must be in Pembrokeshire.

The bursary is tax free and will be awarded to the student who, in the opinion of the panel of judges, has submitted the best dissertation on how the bursary will assist them to complete their course of study.

Further details and the entry form can be found online: Student Bursary Award | Pembrokeshire County Show | Pembs Agricultural Society (pembsshow.org)  or by calling the show office: 01437 764331. The closing date for applications is noon on Monday, 1 July 2024.

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