Becoming efficient farmers capable of rising to the challenges that face us in the future was the overarching theme for the Wales YFC Rural Affairs Conference.

A warm welcome was issued to members of Wales YFC, representatives from partner organisations and the organisations corporate sponsors to the third Rural Affairs conference organised by Wales YFC and sponsored by CCF (Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers). All who attended were treated to a top class line-up of speakers at the event –themed ‘Live to Farm or Farm to Live’ – held on the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd on Saturday 14th January.

The line-up featured a host of award winners, mentors and scholars which proved to be inspiring to the young audience. Brexit naturally featured in each presentation where the feeling was that providing the industry was prepared to change we would be able to respond to opportunities and withstand the challenges.

Welcoming those present to the event, Jonathan Saer of CCF who also Chaired the event said: “We are very pleased with the conference attendance and the calibre of the speakers here today”

The first presentation of the day was given by John Scott of Fearn Farm in Easter-Ross and Sutherland via a film made especially for the Conference as Mr Scott was unable to attend in person. The film showed footage of the Scott’s Beef, Sheep and Arable farm which runs 6000 breeding ewes and 250 beef suckler cows. John is a Nuffield scholar, a past winner of the Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year and Associate of Royal Agricultural Societies. John encouraged the audience of YFC members to be ambitious and not to be afraid of change. An inspiring quote of John’s was ‘Surround yourself by radiators and not drains’.

Richard Roderick, 2015 Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year and Farming Connect Mentor gave us an insight into the different enterprises ran from Newton Farm in the Usk Valley. The Tudor Family farm Suffolk and texel cross mules and a herd of Stabiliser cows. Ricard is the recipient of the 2016 Hybu Cig Cymru Scholarship. Richard aims to produce high quality meat from a smaller, more efficient, forage-based suckler cow. He spoke about his visit to America to investigate beef breeding options.

Nuffield Scholar and Consultant Veterinary surgeon Rob Drysdale MRCVS led an interesting third session focussing on the future of beef production from the dairy herd. Rob’s presentation was particularly appropriate as the Wales Federation of YFC embarks on its own Integrated Beef Scheme project in conjunction with Dunbia and Menter a Busnes.

The view from the retailer was presented by Will Jackson, Agricultural Manager for Beef and Lamb for the Co-op. Will’s speech centred on the future direction of the UK supply chain and reported that it will switch all of its fresh bacon and lamb to 100% British from 1st May 2017. Will spoke passionately about building strong relationships between the producer and retailer.

The third Farmers Weekly award winner of the day, Richard Tudor spoke about the beef cattle enterprise at Llysun Farm in Montgomery. Llysun rises from 550 feet to 1,400 feet and is a current Farming Connect demonstration site. Richard encouraged the audience not to look at our neighbours as competitor’s but to the rest of the world and put a passport to good use if you really want to learn.

Past Wales YFC member and Farmers Weekly Mixed Farmer of the year Stuart Hammond took the final session of the day. Stuart farms in partnership with his brother Edward. The brothers enterprises range from Beef and sheep production to poultry and from green energy to a children’s play centre. Stuart urged the audience to not be afraid of change. Brexit will present new opportunities and challenges and providing the industry is willing to change he sees a strong future for the next generation of food producers. Stuart encouraged the audience to play its part in portraying the positive story that UK agriculture has to tell.

Wales YFC Rural Affairs Chairman, Morys Ioan said:
“We have responded to member’s feedback and this year the conference consisted of top class food producers that are all inspirational in different ways along with the view of the retailer that is proud to back British produce and we are particularly pleased to have welcomed an expert in beef integration. I would in particular like to thank the Conference sponsors CCF, their support to the next generation of food producers is highly valued.”