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Farming

Welsh farmers ‘can’t be green if they are in the red’, says conservation charity

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THE GAME & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has shared scientific evidence with Welsh Government and demonstrated why hedgerows should be included in their 10% woodland requirement, but they have not taken this forward. Research shows that good-sized hedgerows provide equal or better carbon storage than 1 ha of low-yield woodland of all species commonly planted in Wales.

In several cases, the hedgerows exceed the carbon sequestration of moderate-yield woodland over ten years. It seems very strange that a hawthorn bush in an area of scrub can be counted towards Welsh Government’s proposed woodland cover but a hawthorn bush within a hedge cannot.

GWCT have shared evidence derived from work on the Hedgerow Carbon Code and other means of carbon capture on farms with Welsh Government to take forward within the SFS but unfortunately, they have not yet shown interest.

As an example of productive farming and wildlife recovery, GWCT’s own demonstration farm manages approximately 12 – 13% as ecologically enhanced habitat for wildlife recovery and has reversed farmland bird declines. GWCT maintain that nature recovery is possible alongside productive, profitable farming, with the greatest efficiencies achieved by ecologically enhancing unproductive land.

Delivering wildlife recoveries more efficiently can also include other forms of conservation alongside habitat management such as predation management, although that’s another area Welsh Government has refused to look at the science or consider objectively.

The Welsh Government’s proposals of a compulsory 10% tree cover alongside 10% semi-natural habitat might be applauded by some conservation organisations, however, if it is not realistic or is simply unachievable for farmers they will either not opt-in or be forced out of business, both of which lead to dire consequences for Welsh wildlife and the environment. Interestingly, previous schemes have recognised that 5 – 7% of good quality (ecologically enhanced) habitat was enough to recover declining farmland bird populations, and if we recognise that good woodland is habitat too, the leap to a potential 20% habitat proposal seems vast.

GWCT are concerned that the latest Welsh Government Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation remains a consultation in name only. Despite consultations in various guises since 2018 when ‘Brexit and our Land’ was launched, the Welsh Government appear to be no further forward in developing a realistic Agri-environment scheme which properly rewards farmers for nature recovery alongside profitable, productive farming.

The Welsh farming community is rightly up in arms defending their right to continue farming their land productively. With profit and loss margins already extremely narrow for many Welsh farms the proposals could be incredibly damaging.

Although a worst-case scenario, the economic report modelling the potential impact of the SFS is damning, with estimates of 10.8% livestock unit reductions and a workforce reduction of 11% for the farming sector. As GWCT Director Wales Lee Oliver says “If the sector is damaged, food security becomes an obvious issue, however, Welsh Government have also failed to recognise the wider economic impact which will have a negative knock-on effect on the environment as well as other businesses that rely upon farming in rural areas. As farmers will tell you, they can’t be green if they are in the red.”

Therefore, if the 10% tree planting is purely to meet targets for carbon sequestration the science here is complex and far from straightforward forward and tree planting is an oversimplified solution.

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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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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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