Candidates shortlisted for the 2017 Sir Bryner Jones Memorial Award

7 July 2017

As the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s flagship accolade, the Sir Bryner Jones Memorial Award is hotly contested year after year.

With exceptional entries from 10 counties across Wales, the judges have had a difficult task whittling it down to four very worthy candidates. Once again, the overall winner of this year’s coveted award will be kept under wraps until the Royal Welsh Show, where the four shortlisted contenders and their families will attend the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society award presentations on the first day of the show to hear the winner announced for the first time.

Sir Bryner Jones helped shape the direction of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society for 50 years, was Agricultural Commissioner for Wales and subsequently became Welsh Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. He was President of the Royal Welsh in 1954, the society’s golden jubilee year.

Since 1957 the award has been made annually to someone from a different area of the farming industry who has reached the highest level of achievement in the chosen sector. This year the judges were looking for an individual who has made and continues to make an exceptional contribution to the Dairy Industry in Wales.

Due to the broad field of the title, which covers from farm to the finished product, the judges found making the decisions extremely difficult. “It was very challenging to judge contestants so diverse in their field of expertise from genetics to large and medium herd management, organic expertise, milk processing and product marketing.” Remarked the judges, Mansel Raymond MBE FRAgS and Gareth Roberts FRAgS. “All 10 had the capabilities of passing on knowledge to the next generation.”

“Most of the contestants were also very active in their rural communities, giving of their time freely to various societies and other organisations across Wales. Many work very hard through their respective unions in lobbying their political masters on farming and rural affairs. 

“We felt that all four of the shortlisted candidates are equally excellent. The only conclusion in observation is that they represent four pieces of cloth of the same excellent quality – but just of four different colours. Our final decision has been particularly difficult.”

In alphabetical order, the four shortlisted candidates are:

Mr Laurence R Harris, Ffosyficer, Abercych, Boncath, Pembrokeshire

Since taking over the family farm in 1975, Mr Harris and his wife have developed a major family dairy business.  They now organically farm a total of 3,000 acres with 650 milking cows, young stock, beef cattle sired by home bred Hereford bulls and a 2,000 head sheep flock.

In 2002 the business moved into contract milk processing and specialist milk drinks sold in convenience packs, under the product name Daioni.  The milk is sold through to OMSCO Co-op (The Organic Milk Suppliers Co-Operative) where Mr Harris has been a member since 2002. Daioni products are a worldwide recognised brand. Daioni UHT organic milk products are sold for coffee in Pret a Manger outlets in Hong Kong and recently introduced into all French Pret a Manger Coffee Shops. 

Originally, all UHT milk processing was carried out in Wales, but since 2015 the processing and preparation of the UHT Daioni product now takes place by using milk from OMSCO organic supplies at Credition, Devon. The result of all this development is a business system with Trioni Ltd, the controlling company with Mr Harris as Chairman and his wife Eira. Branded organic milk products are sold by Daioni Wales to UK outlets and Daioni Hong Kong Ltd, with son Ben as Chairman, and selling into Hong Kong, Shanghai and Vietnam. Other Daioni UHT products are exported to Middle East, United Arab Emirates, and recently into France. In addition, 1 million litres of Daioni fresh organic milk is sold via numerous outlets across Wales.

Thus, from the original farm activity in 1975 the farm and resulting dairy business now operates worldwide with a turnover in excess £4,500,000.

Mr Maurice Jones, Court Calmore, Montgomery, Powys

Mr Jones currently farms 2,250 acres in partnership with son Fraser. Milking 1150 Calcourt Pedigree Holsteins across three herds and in the process of expanding by an additional 1000 cows.

Mr Jones holds many positions which include being a Director of Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers, Bank of England Welsh Agricultural Spokesperson, a member of the 1000 Cow Club. He is a Montgomeryshire Delegate for the NFU Welsh Milk Board (for 45 years), Member of North Wales TB Eradication Board since inception, and Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies since 2002. A member and past Chairman of Powys Grassland Society, a member and past Chairman of Montgomeryshire Farm Management Association. A current member of the Shropshire Farmers Club, a Montgomeryshire Delegate for NFU Cymru Arable Committee and a member of the RWAS Montgomeryshire Advisory Committee.

Mr Jones has also held many past positions such as – the Vice Chairman and Chairman of the NFU Cymru Milk Board on many occasions. NFU HQ Dairy Produce Committee and Milk Board, NFU Cymru Board of Management and Council Member. He has been a Committee Member for the Shropshire Holstein Breeders Club, awarded RWAS Farmer of the Year 1995, Chairman for Montgomeryshire National Milk Records. A Council Member for Dairy Farmers of Britain and a Member of the House of Lords Dairy Forum.

Mr Terrig G Morgan, Garreg Y Llech, Treuddyn, Mold, Flintshire

Mr Morgan’s contribution to the dairy industry, locally, nationally and internationally, has been exceptional. With a genuine desire and a skill to communicate with individuals across the industry, Mr Morgan is an advocate of positive change and evolution, and has left his mark on the Dairy Industry in Wales.

As part of NFU Dairy Board, Mr Morgan was responsible for facilitating meetings between Defra, retailers and the Dairy Trade Industry, shaping ongoing relationships. He did not shy away from very challenging conversations, but recognised the need to collaborate.

Mr Morgan was instrumental in setting up The Udder Group, a dairy discussion group, where he encouraged younger producers to come to the fore. Mr Morgan has chaired and led international committees to establish international protocols on farm assurance, followed by publications of resulting reports and books, by so doing, represented Wales on the International stage. Recognising the worth of ‘added value’ and promotion, Mr Morgan was closely involved in instigating White Stuff campaign and product placement of local dairy products on supermarket shelves during his tenure on NFU Dairy Board.

Mr Morgan is a Fellow of the Royal Agriculture Society and has recently been appointed the Chair of National CARAS.

Mr DJ Bryan Thomas, Gellionnen, Heol Bolahaul, Cwmffrwd, Carmarthen

Mr Thomas farms in partnership with his family at Gelliddu, Cwmffrwd, presently milking 250 pedigree Holsteins plus 240 followers with the GELLIDDU prefix. In 2009, Mr Thomas was awarded a Master Breeder Shield from Holstein UK, on average only three herds attain this award per annum. This is awarded to herds that obtain exceptional standards both from conformation and production.

Mr Thomas has judged at many shows including the Royal of England, the Royal Ulster, the Royal Highland and the Royal Welsh (the interbreed Dairy Championship at the Centenary Show).  He has judged herd competitions in every County in England and Wales including RABDF Gold Cup on three separate occasions, and the All Ireland Champion Herd Competition.

In addition, amongst other roles, Mr Thomas is a past Chairman and President of Holstein South Wales, served on the Board of Holstein UK including Chairman of both Show and Sale and Breed Development Committees. He has chaired the MMB’s Welsh AI Panel, is a founder member of the Welsh Dairy Show.  Twice served as President of the Carmarthen Chamber of Agriculture, chaired the Carmarthenshire NMR Committee.  Mr Thomas is a council member of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, served on the Welsh Panel of CARAS, Chairman of the Carmarthen Area Fundraising Committee of the RWAS 2017 Appeal. 

He has hosted visits from two Welsh Secretaries of State for Rural Affairs to discuss dairying policies, and hosted delegations from the Governments of Ireland and Kosovo to look at Welsh Dairy farming. Hosted CAAV courses on farm, sat on the Secretary of State’s Agricultural Advisory Board until its disbandment (representing the Welsh Dairy Industry). Mr Thomas is a founder member of Defra’s Animal Health Panel, a past chairman of the Welsh Dairy Development Programme.

The winner will be announced at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society award presentations on the first day of the show, Monday 24 July 2017, at 2.20pm.