Honours for Welsh farming leaders

26 June 2014

Eight hardworking and deserving industry leaders have been given the honour of being made associates of the Royal Agricultural Societies for their contribution to the agricultural and rural industries in Wales.

After much deliberation from the Welsh National Panel and the National Moderators Panel for the Council of Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies, eight of the applications for the award were deemed of a high enough standard to be granted the coveted title of associate.

Amongst the successful applicants was Mr Arwyn Owen of Nantgwynant, Gwynedd with his submission of ‘Supporting hill farming through public engagement’.Originally from Llangynog in Montgomeryshire, Mr Owen manages the 4,500 acre Hafod y Llan estate in Snowdonia, where he shares his hill farming experience and knowledge with the public through open farm initiatives and using the estate’s interpretation room.

Mr Colin Gordon of Llanrhindian, Swansea was also successful with his submission of ‘Mixed farming, sheepdog breeding and trialling’. Mr Gordon’s mixed farm comprises of sheep, beef and arable and includes producing the famous salt-march lamb. Since the early 70s he has been breeding and training sheepdogs, providing free training clinics and very successfully competing and judging in many competitions all over the world.

With his submission on the ‘Wynnstay Chairmanship’, Mr John Davies of Eyton, Wrexham was also awarded an associateship. During his 33 years of service on the board, Mr Davies was keen to develop the business for the benefit of its many farmer members and was instrumental in many successful initiatives which have had a significant impact in making Wynnstay one of the most important agricultural supply business in the UK.

Dr Iwan Owen of Trefeglwyd, Powys was also awarded an associateship for his submission of ‘Education and training in agriculture’. Having worked as a lecturer since 1981, Dr Owen currently works within the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University. Not only is Dr Owen involved in the teaching of students, he also coordinates and manages of all the agricultural degree courses at the university as well as franchised arrangements with Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire. In addition Dr Owen has been a well respected external examiner for courses at Bishop Burton College, Harper Adams University, and SRUC – Scotland’s rural college.

With his submission of ‘Developing a sustainable farm business’, Mr John Owen of Llanfechell, Anglesey was also awarded an associateship. Whilst originally working in electronics, Mr Owen slowly built up a farming enterprise which by 1982 was large enough for him to become a fulltime farmer. After 40 years of gradual expansion, the family farm now extends to 950 acres, comprises of 750 head of beef, 2,000 mules and 150 acres of winter wheat and spring barley. The farm employs four fulltime people, including Mr Owen’s son, Gareth, who are working on optimum grass utilisation for meat production and profitability.

Mr Gwyn Howells of Ponterwyd, Ceredigion was also successful with his submission of ‘The Welsh red meat industry’. Having started his career as a sheep specialist for the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) in 1985, Mr Howells is now the chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – Meat Production Wales. HCC works closely with farmers, processors and retailers to improve the quality of livestock and build the reputation of the Welsh lamb and Welsh beef brands. This includes work done by Mr Howells to gain Protected Geographical Indication and open up international markets for Welsh meat.

With a submission entitled ‘Integration of a cider orchard enterprise into a traditional family farm’, Mr David James of Three Cocks, Brecon was also successful. Having run the family farm since 1985, Mr James has increased the business considerable, including expanding a traditional cider orchard by planting more intensive orchards which now cover over 91 acres. The orchards have received national recognition and awards for management and production and are also used for farm walks and educational trips.

Mr Bernard Llewellyn of Trapp, Carmarthenshire, was the final successful applicant with his submission of ‘The role of native breeds in the promotion of red meat’. Mr Llewellyn farms 200 acres using traditional systems incorporating environmental improvement schemes alongside a successful tourism business of tearoom, craft centre and function venue. His use of native breeds, particularly Longhorn Cattle ad native rare breed sheep, has added to the interest and understanding of visitors and customers. Mr Llewellyn believes in the importance and acceptability of native breeds in terms of sustainability in an environmental context in upland areas.

“It is with great pride that we are able to award these eight very worthy applicants with an associateship” says Mr Cyril Davies, Royal Welsh Agricultural Society representative on the CARAS council and a members of the Welsh Moderator.

“The standard of submissions was extremely high and Welsh agriculture is fortunate to have such knowledgeable and enthusiastic leaders at its forefront.”

All eight successful candidates will be officially presented with their awards at a reception held on the Tuesday evening of the Royal Welsh Show.