New Associates in Wales of Royal Agricultural Societies

1 October 2013

A North Wales farmer who has won international fame as a breeder and handler of sheepdogs has been made an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies.

Aled Owen of Tynant, Corwen, has represented Wales 34 times at the International Sheepdog Trials against England, Scotland and Ireland.  He has won the Welsh National Championship on three occasions, the Individual Supreme Championship three times and has twice been the winner of the World Sheepdog Championship.

A former British Isles Senior Shearer of the Year, Mr Owen is a noted judge at sheepdog trials at home and overseas.  He has officiated at the North American Sheepdog Championships and the European Continental Trials in Belgium.  He also holds sheepdog training sessions in most European countries, North America and New Zealand.

In 1999, together with his wife, Jane, he diversified into tourism converting a cattle shed on the farm into a theatre for displaying sheep breeds, and sheep shearing and he demonstrates sheepdogs at work on the surrounding hillsides.  A successful tourist attraction it brings thousands of visitors a year, including school parties, from the UK and abroad to the area.

Mr Owen is one of five new Associates of the Royal Agricultural Societies from Wales.  The other recipients of the honour are Professor Jamie Newbold, Mrs Janet Phillips, David E Phillips and John Biggs.

Professor Newbold of Bow Street, Ceredigion, is Director of Research at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Science (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, managing its annual research budget of around £15m.  He has been involved in agricultural research, teaching and consultancy, for 25 years and has made a major contribution in the field of ruminant agriculture, in particular to improving understanding of practical approaches to increasing productivity and efficiency of ruminant animals.

Mrs Janet Phillips of Caernarfon, Gwynedd, is a senior civil servant with the Farm Liaison Service in North Wales providing support for farmers in their dealings with the Welsh Government Rural Affairs Department with particular emphasis on education and communication.

In her role as a Farm Liaison Officer she typically deals with around 100 cases per month explaining the processes involved with the various scheme rules, provides guidance on new initiatives and updates on changes.  Topics covered include Single Farm Payments, Cross Compliance, Glastir, form-filling, setting up and maintaining records and ensuring that farmers are aware, compliant and up-to-date.

David E Phillips of Lamphey, Pembrokeshire, farms 900 acres with his wife and son finishing 750 beef cattle a year and the progeny of 1200 lowland ewes.  They recently started a suckler herd and breed Welsh Mountain Ponies.

The farm is a prime example of a successfully operated beef finishing enterprise and lambs produced for the early market.  Nearly all the cattle are finished indoors and require large quantities of fodder and bedding.  This year the 360 acres of arable land produced 180 acres of cereals and 180 acres of maize.  One hundred and fifty acres of grass silage was all fed back to finish the cattle.

Every August the farm hosts the Pembroke Farmers Club one-day show.  The club is the second oldest society in Wales and the show is one of the largest one-day events, covering 45 acres of land.

John Biggs of Penrhos, Raglan, is a well-known and respected farmer in Monmouthshire and a talented craftsman who has passed on his skills in shearing, hedging, fencing, stock judging and other farm crafts to the next generation through the YFC movement and as a part-time teacher at Usk.

As a former winner of the Welsh Grassland Society’s All-Wales competition he is committed to good grassland management on his 150 acre farm which is run as a productive and financially viable beef and sheep enterprise.  He is a member and former chairman of Monmouth Grassland Society and is currently president of the society as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

A past county chairman of the NFU he is a local director for Monmouthshire on the Welsh board of NFU Mutual and is currently a farmer member of the Cardiff Region TB Education Board.

He is a past chairman of Monmouthshire Show and is presently a show director.  For over a decade he has been a leading advocate in the fight for a new livestock market in Monmouthshire which is now under construction.