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FUW to explore critical #FarmingMatters at Royal Welsh Show

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is looking forward to explore and discuss the most important issues facing the farming industry in Wales, such as rural crime, Brexit, mental health, innovation and diversification, as well as mobile communication at the Royal Welsh Show 2018 (Monday 23 – Thursday 26 July) by hosting a series of seminars and discussion groups.

Kick starting the show with a rural crime seminar on Monday 23 July at 11am, the FUW is looking forward to a discussion with Alun Davies AM, Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services; Simon Hart MP, Previous CEO of Countryside Alliance and member of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee; Tim Jones of Natural Resources Wales, Executive Director for Operations North and Mid Wales; and Rob Taylor of North Wales Police and Team Manager of the Rural Crime Prevention Team on matters of wildlife crime and rural affairs in Wales.

The Forum will also present an opportunity to discuss modern slavery in rural communities, which is to be led by an input from Gwent Police.

The afternoon will see conversations turn to the topic that is going to change the face of agriculture forever, as the FUW holds its ‘Brexit: What does the future hold for agriculture?’ seminar, which will start at 2pm.

The event promises to be a thought-stimulating seminar as keynote speakers FUW Head of Policy Dr Nick Fenwick, Farmers Guardian Chief Reporter Abi Kay and Dr Jo Hunt, Reader in Law at Cardiff University School of Law and Politics will be exploring different aspects of Brexit and the future of our industry, including aspects of regionalism and devolution in the context of the European Union.

Chairing the seminar is Sara Jones, whose background is deeply rooted within the farming community. Her father is an arable farmer in Monmouthshire and her partner and his family run a busy sheep and beef farm in Usk.   

Sara is closely connected with Gwent YFC and encourages and supports their activity throughout the county, understanding the hugely important role they play with grassroots farming and young people. She also supports her brother in law in his role as an auctioneer and rural surveyor, as a regular clerk at machinery and livestock sales.

As Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium she works closely with key partners and stakeholders across all retail issues, but with a strong focus on their grocery members and the supply chain.  

Speaking ahead of the seminar she said: “This event will no doubt provide much insight, discussion and debate as we hear from a strong panel of speakers all of whom will bring a unique perspective to the Brexit debate, and what the current landscape means for our Welsh farming industry.  The FUW continues to lead the way on the Brexit agenda; engaging with key stakeholders and, most importantly, listening to what the grassroots membership is saying to help inform policy decision. This event continues on that theme by giving FUW members the opportunity to have a direct say on the most important issue our industry is currently faced with.”

But not all is serious, as at the end of the first day those visiting the FUW pavilion, can look forward to a bit of Loris Mansel Davies, Bois y JCB, Bois y Loris, Classifieds y Farmers Guardian and Ni’n Belo Nawr, as the Welsh Whisperer performs exclusively for the FUW at its pavilion on the showground.

The evening starts at 6.30pm with a free hotdog and there will also be a bar. Tickets for the event can be purchased from FUW offices for £15 each for adults and £5 for children, with 50% of the ticket price going towards the FUW’s charities – Alzheimer’s Society Cymru and The Farming Community Network.

Tuesday is all about communication and innovation and starting at 11am, the FUW, in partnership with OfCom Wales, will host a discussion on improving mobile coverage in Wales with representations from each of the Mobile Network Operators and Huw Saunders, Ofcom’s Director of Infrastructure

The afternoon (2.00 pm Tuesday 23 July) will focus on how farmers can embrace innovation in many different ways, and stay ahead of their competitors as Brexit looms .

Those attending the seminar can look forward to hearing from  Geraint Hughes, who leads on Business and Innovation in the Farming Connect’s Agri-Academy scheme,whose forum include Welsh farmers looking at technologies such as Genomics, Smart farming, Virtual reality, Social Media and Vertical farming.

He also operates as a broker for the European Innovation Partnership programme that aims to bridge academia and industry by conducting field trials of cutting edge technologies in a commercial environment.

Karina Marsden who  is a postdoctoral researcher in the Ecosystems and Environment group at the Environment Centre Wales, at Bangor University will talk about her research into soil nitrogen cycling in livestock production systems, with a particular focus on emissions of the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, from agricultural soils and Shiv Kodam of Hoofprints Technologies, will talk about the latest  developments of a range of sensors to help farmers remotely monitor livestock in extensive systems.

FUW Policy Officer Bernard Griffiths said: “We are very excited about this seminar, which will explore a variety of innovations made, that can help the sector progress in future and I hope many of you can join us on the day.”

On Wednesday those coming to the FUW pavilion can look forward to a seminar on Diversification, which will start at 11am. The diverse range of speakers will explore how farmers can add another string to their bow and create an extra income stream for their farm business.

FUW Policy Officer Charlotte Priddy said: “Have you ever thought about finding a new income stream for your business? Diversifying on your farm can bring a number of benefits, but if you’re not well prepared, it can be a problematic journey. Come along to the seminar to hear from our expert panel who will share their advice, guidance and share good practice for looking at whether farm diversification is for you.”

In the afternoon (Wednesday 25 July) things will take a different turn as the FUW is hosting an exciting seminar that will look at what being authentic really means, overcoming self-doubt and having the courage to develop a business that reflects who you are.

Delivered by Helen Howells of Hwylus, the ‘Authentic Leadership & How Being You Is Enough’ seminar will start at 2pm.

Speaking ahead of the event, Helen said: “Being authentic in leadership and business is about developing your personal brand, one with real soul. Having the confidence to live your values and feel the intensity of the passion for what you do. So come along to explore how you can instil the values of authentic leadership into your business, feel confident bringing more of yourself to your work, and reap the benefits.”

The final day of the show is dedicated to mental health at the FUW pavilion and the Union looks forward hosting a discussion and information forum that will hear from Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, The Farming Community Network and DPJ Foundation, exploring the wider issues surrounding mental health in rural areas. The event will start at 11am.

The discussions are chaired by Lilwen Joynson, Agrisgop leader, who said: “I appreciate that for many farmers, rural businesses and families having a chat about being stressed out and what to do and where to go for help, sits below the to do list of a busy rural enterprise.

“The thing is, if we don’t talk we dont support and we end up with problems and an industry that isn’t facing up to the reality of how mental health affects us all.

“I want you to think right now of one person who is affected with stress, anxiety or depression it could even be you. Where do they go for support ? Very often nowhere and that’s why we have been known to be an industry that shuts up and puts up. We have an industry that thinks that a person is soft if we are feeling depressed we all know that well oiled phrase “pull yourself together”.

“That’s why as a working practitioner I am keen to push forward and pull together and talk about mental health – let’s take the stigma out of mental health in farming. And I hope to see many of you at the seminar on Thursday 26 July”

The seminars and discussion groups hosted at the FUW Pavilion are free and open to all.