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Rachel Lewis-Davies: Continental tug of war a real success, but BSP calculator a kick in the teeth


Trying our best to hurry up and finish harvest so we can get to Holland for the YFC Tug of War Youth Tournament.

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A hurried harvest so we can get to Holland for YFC Tug of War! #YFC #harvest #farming

It has been a frenetic few weeks to finish harvest and get the sheep work done so we can get away for a few days to Holland to support son Lewis and Trecastle YFC in the GENSB Tug of War Youth Tournament.


The team were well supported and a group of 39 of us – an eclectic mix akin to stag party, hen doo, family holidaymakers – all transported across the continent in a coach with our elite sports team. For me, one who does not often escape the ‘farming bubble’, this made for quite an eye-opener – suffice to say I could not give this great experience justice if I had another 400 words!


With 600-plus miles to travel, some over the hedge (or ditch) farming was inevitable. Indeed, the lie of the land facilitated this. I was amazed by the amount of maize and most impressed with tidy farms and first-class grassland management – not a dock, rush, thistle or nettle anywhere.


This competition was a first for Wales and it was a real learning curve for Trecastle as they take their tug of war seriously on the continent. With more than 40 teams participating, the use of music saw each ‘pull’ elevated to gladiatorial proportions. Our team finished a very respectable 14th position and are already planning their trip to next year’s event. Well done Trecastle.


Back from Holland and Welsh Government has managed to wipe the smile from our faces. Having recently put up a Basic Payment Scheme calculator on its website which projects payment levels over the next five years, it is now possible to better understand the impact of CAP reform.


Previously I have described the adoption of redistributive payments as the worst possible outcome for our business. Now it appears the actual outcome is even worse than this, and Bobby has been knocked sideways by the fact the transition in equal steps to 2019 has not materialised.


By his reckoning, on top of the more than 20 per cent hit last year, we are projected to be a further third worse off by 2019, but crucially the transition is in some way front-loaded and we take 87.5 per cent of the total transition this year, with equal steps thereafter.


It is all a complete and utter surprise. Bobby asks how this can be considered a transition and wonders whether this is a ‘cock-up’ or conspiracy – given the tough year we are experiencing he says this just feels like we are taking a kicking now.


Rachel Lewis-Davies, Powys

Rachel and her husband Bob, farm Yscoedreddfyn, near Brecon, Mid Wales. They bought the 109ha (270-acre) farm, which rises to 400m (1, 300ft) with common rights on Mynydd Bach Trecastle and rent a 45ha (110-acre) hill farm with grazing rights on a local MoD range. They farm 950 ewes, mainly Epynt Hardy Speckled.

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