Honours for Welsh farmers

27 March 2013

A farmer’s wife from the Rhondda Valleys in South Wales has been made an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies for her pioneering work in business and management training for those involved in farming and related industry.

Mrs Julie Thomas of Caerlan Farm, Tonypandy, a former lecturer at Usk Agricultural College, who runs a 300 acre hill sheep farm with her husband, has developed on-farm training facilities for award courses for Lantra, the Senior Skills Council for environmental and land based industries. Her company – Simply the Best Training – is the only Lantra provider in Wales to have gained Investors in People status.

Mrs Thomas is one of four new recipients in Wales of the award of Associateship of the Royal Agricultural Societies in recognition of their various outstanding contributions to the agricultural industry.

The others are:

Robert Rattray of New Cross, Aberystwyth, operates a successful butchery business in the town supported by a commercial and pedigree farming enterprise.

A winner of many awards in the meat industry he has been given a five-star rating in the Food Standards Agency Food Hygiene Certification Scheme. He has exhibited and judged sheep and cattle at shows across the country including judging the supreme cattle championships at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

Dylan Tudur Jones of Edern, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, has been made an Associate for his work in grassland management. Maximum use is made of the grassland on his 123 hectare farm carrying 150 Holstein Friesians, 150 followers and a sheep flock. The grassland is regularly reseeded to ensure that none of the grass produced is over six years old.

Mr Jones is a winner of the Federation of Welsh Grassland Society trophy and of the UK national competition held by the British Grassland Society. He is also a past winner of the South Caernarfon and North Wales competition for silage quality held by the FWGS and has been an All-Wales finalist on numerous occasions.

Wyn Owen of Welshpool, Powys, is well known throughout Wales as a leading exponent and deliverer of knowledge transfer in the farming industry. A Nuffield Scholar he was appointed in 2009 to manage Agriscôp, a management and development programme for farming families and employees launched by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2003. The Action Learning and coaching techniques enable farming businesses to develop ideas to help resolve issues and identify action plans to make businesses more viable and sustainable.

Mr Owen presently manages a team of 22 Agriscôp leaders who are facilitating over 50 diverse groups of farmers in Wales where, to date, over 2000 individuals have benefited from the programme.