Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Business

“There aren’t enough hours in the day” for entrepreneurial young Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Scott Robinson

Published

on

“I WOULD not be where I am today if it were not for Farming Connect,” says Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Scott Robinson.

Scott, 25, is ambitious, focused and also very busy! He works alongside his parents at the family farm near Clynderwen and runs his own successful milk-vending machine enterprise.

He says he hasn’t yet found the route to achieving the perfect work/life balance – ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’ – but, like everything else he tackles, he’s working on it! 

After attending Hartpury College to study an extended diploma in agriculture, Scott travelled around New Zealand to get experience of working on large-scale dairy units.

“It was an eye-opener – if their workers hadn’t finished their day by 5pm, they felt they were getting something wrong, we could learn from that here in Wales too!”

Scott grew up on the council-owned Pembrokeshire farm which has been tenanted by his parents for almost 30 years. They currently milk 140 Holstein Friesian cows twice daily and graze them on 200 acres of pasture and silage.  

The family first accessed Farming Connect’s Advisory Service in 2019.  Soil sampling and nutrient management planning advice led to more targeted use of nitrogen fertilisers on fields with high indices with slurry elsewhere.

“This has saved us time and money so we’ll now reassess this every three to four years,” says Scott.

Through the Advisory Service, they also applied for an infrastructure report and will shortly start work on a new slurry lagoon which will ensure the farm meets the new agri-pollution requirements. This will allow for more efficient use of farm nutrients and enable the family to transition to a flying herd, buying in all replacement heifers. The farm infrastructure report was submitted as part of the planning application providing the information required for Natural Resources Wales to approve the proposal.

Two years ago, urged on by his Farming Connect mentor Lilwen Joynson, Scott started researching the costs and viability of setting up a new milk vending machine business at the farm. He successfully applied for a substantial loan which enabled him to convert one of the farm outbuildings and invest in the necessary equipment.  He also set up a formal agreement with his parents to purchase some of their milk, the remainder of which is sold on contract to a major dairy wholesale company.

Scott says that tapping into a range of Farming Connect support services has not only given him new skills, but also increased his network of similarly pro-active farmers all keen to share their experiences of innovative or more efficient ways of working.

Scott and his parents have at various times been members of a local Farming Connect dairy discussion group- which meets quarterly to discuss issues such as benchmarking, nutrient management planning and grazing strategies as well as animal health and performance.

A former participant of the Agri Academy, which he says was a massive boost to his self-confidence, Scott has also been part of Farming Connect’s Prosper to Pasture basic programme to have a better understanding of pasture management. The family have also accessed sector-specific guidance on topics including planning, nutrient management, slurry storage, grassland and crop management. Scott also joined a local Agrisgôp set up especially for dairy farmers involved with milk-vending enterprises, which included those just thinking of starting up as well as fully-fledged operators.

“It was hugely helpful to share guidance on good suppliers, compare costs and swap contacts – I found sharing our experiences a big support.”

The group was led by Lilwen Joynson, who had met Scott at the beginning of his entrepreneurial ‘journey’ in her role as his mentor.  

Scott says Lilwen’s support was the catalyst which encouraged the whole family to talk openly ‘around the kitchen table’ about their hopes for the future.

“By facilitating our discussions, we soon had a clear sense of direction and her insistence that we each drew up a detailed action plan and deadlines after every meeting had a huge impact on both short and long-term ambitions for the future direction of the farm.  

“Farming Connect has helped me learn more about innovation, current best practice and more efficient ways of working, all critical for farmers at a time we need to be more aware of climate change and protecting the environment.

“Lilwen encouraged us all to think of the wider implications and convinced me and my parents that we should investigate and capitalise on every opportunity to future proof both the farm and the milk vending business. 

“I’ve got an expanding customer-base and I’m optimistic that within three years, when I hope to have paid off my loan, all profits from the milk vending side will be going straight into my pocket – that’s a nice thought to keep me working hard!”

Scott has also undertaken Farming Connect training courses including social media training and a marketing course which help him promote the milk vending enterprise.

“It makes good commercial sense to take advantage of all the support and guidance available, and with Farming Connect services either fully funded or subsidised by up to 80%, I’d advise anyone else to pick up the phone to their local development officer today.”

Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and financed by Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Continue Reading

Business

£3m funding scheme for marine, fisheries and aquaculture projects announced

Published

on

A £3 MILLION funding scheme to support the fisheries, marine and aquaculture sectors is now open for expressions of interest, Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths has announced.

The funding is available over two years and replaces the previous European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

The aim of the Welsh Marine and Fisheries Fund is to support seafood producers, coastal communities and the marine environment to thrive, by investing strategically for the long-term benefit of the sector.

In this first funding round of the scheme the focus is on assisting with finding new markets for fishery and aquaculture products, promote the quality of products and help businesses to market their products.

Expressions of interest are also invited to support research to improve energy efficiency and mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change within the marine and fisheries sector.

Further details on how to submit an expression of interest for the Welsh Marine and Fisheries Fund is available through Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online.

Later this week a further £800,000 challenge fund will open to build capacity in coastal communities. Funding support is provided to improve environmental outcomes and potentially increase demand for local seafood with strong sustainability credentials. The pilot scheme, to be managed by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action as part of the Local Nature Partnership network aims to enhance skills on a local level and encourage partners to work together.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I’m pleased the Marine, Fisheries and Aquaculture support scheme is now open for expressions of interest. Our fisheries, marine and aquaculture sectors in Wales are facing many challenges following our departure from the EU and the cost-of-living crisis. I hope this fund will go some way to help support them in marketing their business, and also finding ways to deal with the climate emergency.

“The separate £800,000 funding will help build capacity in coastal communities for groups to work together on important projects to support sustainable growth, diversification and nature recovery. It is often people working locally who can deliver real change in their area, and this funding will support them to do that.”

Further details on Coastal Capacity Building and registering for an information seminar being held on 12 December is available by contacting Local Nature Partnerships at lnpcymru@wcva.cymru

Continue Reading

Business

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre fined £2.3m for ‘woeful pensions advice’

Published

on

THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY (FCA) has fined Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited, which was based in Saundersfoot, £2,354,331 for unsuitable advice to consumers to transfer out of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) and other defined benefit pension schemes.

The FCA’s view is that most people should keep the guaranteed income provided by a DB pension.

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre advised 420 consumers, nearly two-thirds of whom were BSPS members, on whether to transfer out of their defined benefit scheme – 93% were advised to transfer, and as a resulting PMC earned over £2m in transfer and ongoing advice fees.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre advised hundreds of consumers to give up valuable defined benefit pensions without any adequate justification or rationale, using generic, templated advice not tailored to the specific circumstances of their customers while earning fees in doing so.

“The quality of advice seen here was woeful.”

As of 30 November 2022, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has upheld 213 pension transfer claims against Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre and paid out more than £13.3m in compensation.

Many of the people advised were in a vulnerable position due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme and the short timescale they had to make a decision.

But the regulator found that 60% of people did not receive the quality of advice they needed to make an informed decision.

However, the FCA said they did not receive the quality of advice they needed to make an informed decision.

The regulator said they needed clear, objective and expert advice. Instead, Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre gave unsuitable advice in 60% of cases, even higher than BSPS as a whole.

The failings included the provision of generic suitability reports that were not tailored to the circumstances of individual consumers and contained contradictory, misleading and confusing statements.

The FCA said Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre also failed to have adequate resources to deal with the increase in cases caused by BSPS, further impacting the quality of advice provided.

Many consumers, according to the regulator, were advised to transfer out even though they were relying on the guaranteed income to fund their retirement and could not afford to bear the risk of transferring out.

This included those who needed the money to provide for dependents needing long-term care.

Steward added: “The failings were particularly egregious in the context of the British Steel Pension Scheme, where customers were in an unusually vulnerable position.

“The FCA’s investigation into the involvement of others in these matters remains ongoing.

“Any consumers who were advised to transfer should contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to see if they are owed redress.”

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited is currently in liquidation, The Pembrokeshire Herald understands.

The said that it would FCA will give preference to creditors (some of whom may be consumers), ahead of its financial penalty, to maximise funds available for redress – meaning it is unlikely that the fine would ever be paid.

The FCA has said that it continues to progress around 30 ongoing enforcement investigations into firms and individuals relating wholly or partly to BSPS advice, all of which are at a very advanced stage, and some are in litigation.

A former director

Continue Reading

Business

Police and Crime Commissioner: Stark financial pressures facing the force

Published

on

THE POLIC AND CRIME COMMISSIONER, Mr Llywelyn has launched a public consultation on police funding, giving the public the opportunity to have their say on the police precept level for the next financial year.

Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for setting the police precept which is the amount that local council taxpayers contribute towards policing.

The Commissioner’s overall budget for 2022/23 is £127.4m with £60.7m of funding coming from UK/Welsh Government and £66.7m from local council tax precept. Currently, a Band D Council tax payer in Dyfed-Powys pay £290.16 through their Council Tax to support policing.

In launching the precept consultation for 2023/24, Mr Llywelyn has warned of stark financial pressures and resultant operational risks which could threaten the continued safety of our communities.

Mr Llywelyn said: “Deciding on the precept level is always a challenging process but this year sees unprecedented challenges given the severe financial landscape.

“Inflation, rapidly rising costs and uncertainty about how much money forces will receive from the Government for the next financial year through the Police Grant Settlements, has put policing in an incredibly difficult position.

“There are also additional pressures arising from both the increase in volume and complexity of crime, which we must take into consideration as we look to the future.

“Given the scale of all the challenges, the Chief Constable initiated a Force Review during the summer to critically assess all areas of activity seeking efficiencies, savings and transformational opportunities.

“I am painfully aware of the pressure the cost-of-living crisis is putting on people across Wales and indeed locally.

“Sadly, these challenges and rising costs are hitting emergency services too, and we need to act now to protect our vital service to the public.

“Despite careful financial planning by the force, we will have to make increasingly difficult decisions over the next few years, but my priority is to ensure we can continue to run an efficient and effective Police force to continue to keep our communities safe.

“All options being put forward within this precept consultation rely on the force making efficiency and savings of between £4.1m and £5.9m in the next year.”

As he appealed to the public to complete the short consultation, Mr Llywelyn concluded: “It is a very challenging year, but it is very important for me to hear people’s views, therefore I am urging our residents and businesses to have their say through this consultation.”

The survey will remain open until 8 January 2023, and can be accessed here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/R2WY8HV

Other formats of the survey are available on request from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office by emailing OPCC@dyfed-powys.police.uk or calling 01267 226440.

Continue Reading

News3 days ago

Police called following serious incident at Ysgol Harri Tudur

POLICE have been called following a serious incident of threatening behaviour at Ysgol Harri Tudur Today (December 6). The Pembrokeshire...

Charity3 days ago

First Christmas on call for new St Davids RNLI Coxswain following in proud family tradition

THE RNLI in Wales will see hundreds of its volunteer lifeboat crews sacrifice time with their loved ones to save...

News4 days ago

Fishguard RNLI launch to assist sailboat in difficulty

FISHGUARD RNLI was tasked to assist a yacht which was heading for Aberystwth and which had departed Fishguard harbour early...

News4 days ago

Father and son jailed for their part in family drug operation in Carmarthenshire

A FAMILY who set up a sophisticated cannabis factory in rural Carmarthenshire, which estimated to have brought in £4.3m during...

Business4 days ago

£3m funding scheme for marine, fisheries and aquaculture projects announced

A £3 MILLION funding scheme to support the fisheries, marine and aquaculture sectors is now open for expressions of interest,...

Business5 days ago

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre fined £2.3m for ‘woeful pensions advice’

THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY (FCA) has fined Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited, which was based in Saundersfoot, £2,354,331 for unsuitable advice...

News5 days ago

Appeal after pedestrian suffers serious injuries in collision

OFFICERS from Dyfed-Powys Police are investigating a collision between a car and a pedestrian, who was using a walking frame,...

News6 days ago

Six jailed for trafficking cocaine and cannabis to Pembrokeshire

SIX people have been jailed for their parts in an organised crime gang (OCG) which trafficked large quantities of cocaine...

News1 week ago

Missing person appeal: Have you seen Eryl?

POLICE are looking for help with locating a missing woman from Pembroke. 68-year-old Eryl may be wearing jeans and a...

Business1 week ago

Pembs CBD UK’s first high street store partnered with medical cannabis clinic

THE PEMBROKESHIRE CBD CENTRE has become the first high street CBD company in the country to be in partnership with...

Popular This Week