Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has visited two farms in North East Wales to see how they are benefiting from Farming Connect which includes support to create a business to introduce farming to school children.
As well as meeting some newborn lambs, the Minister heard how support is helping the farms, in Bangor-on-Dee and Llandegla, improve their business and remain competitive.
In Bangor-on-Dee, the Minister met with biochemist Cheryl Reeves who farms a beef finishing enterprise.
Cheryl recently won the Farming Connect Public Engagement Award and has started a successful educational initiative, ‘Agrication’, which introduces farming to schoolchildren.
This involves visiting schools and hosts farm visits, spreading messages about the important role of farmers and food producers through social media.
An automated calf rearing system was also set up at the farm in June 2019 with support from Farming Connect. This system has the capacity to rear up to 120 calves in one batch and has improved the business cashflow, profitability, and reduced manual handling and labour.
Farming Connect has helped Cheryl develop her skills which has helped her become a mentor to other farmers.
At Plas yn Iâl farm in Llandegla, farmer Huw Beech explained to the Minister the agri-environment work taking place on the farm to improve their overall woodland management.
This includes assessing the history and condition of the woodland where the majority of the trees were planted during the 1800’s and 1900’s,but left unmanaged for 65 years.
The project Huw has embarked on aims to integrate income generation whilst improving and enhancing environmental and biodiversity benefits by increasing the capital value of the woodland on the farm and providing multiple benefits in a cost-effective way.
Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said:
“As a government, we are committed to maintaining and developing a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector in Wales and the work being done by Cheryl and Huw are a prime example of what can be achieved.
“Recently, I announced £227m to support Wales’ rural economy towards a greener and more sustainable future. Farming Connect is an important factor in helping us reach our goals and I am proud of the programme’s achievements, providing valuable training courses for more than 6,000 beneficiaries. It’s clear the support is valued by our agriculture sector.
“In light of the ongoing challenges faced by the industry we confirmed an extension to Farming Connect through to March 2023. We are developing proposals for a replacement Programme to ensure there is no gap in provision.”
Cheryl Reeves said:
“Farming Connect has provided me with crucial support and helped me gain new and exciting skills.
“I am passionate about ensuring future generations understand food and farming which is why I started ‘Agrication’ and it’s been fantastic to see young people taking an interest.
“I was pleased to be able to discuss this with the Minister and it was great to show her around the farm.”
Huw Beech said:
“I’m incredibly proud of the work we’re doing here at Plas yn Iâl farm which will benefit the business as well as the environment.
“Farming Connect is playing an important role in what we’re aiming to achieve, and I want to thank them for their continued support.
“I was really pleased to welcome Lesley Griffiths to the farm, explain the work taking place and to discuss the benefits of being part of the Farming Connect Demonstration Network which enabled us to run a project looking into Continuous Cover Forestry.”