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Rachel Lewis-Davies: The shock of Welsh CAP announcement, but more positive breeding news

Insights

It has been a momentous few days, not least because for the 19th time I have become an auntie - a beautiful baby girl this time - and also because the Minister has announced his decision for future CAP funding.

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The €20/ha (£16.55/ha) Moorland rate came as a shock, as was the decision to transfer 15 per cent from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2.


Apparently, the aim is to make farmers here in Wales more competitive by making us less competitive as a result of the 15 per cent transfer - a higher rate than our counterparts in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Italy etc. So much for a Common Agricultural Policy. I am not sure I understand the logic, but our farming business will face significant cuts as a result.


We will have to rise to the challenge, but at Yscoedreddfyn it is difficult to know what costs can be stripped out of the system to make up for the shortfall.


The experts will, no doubt, suggest genetic improvement. Bobby is not convinced of this strategy, believing that 90 per cent of genetics come out of a bag at £250/tonne.


Regular readers will be aware of my passion for the Epynt breed. It is, however, not the breed of our new area, which is predominated by the Brecknock Hill Cheviot. These are strong, showy sheep and their owners have been evangelical in promoting their attributes. These advances have been met with polite ambivalence, not least because we have no money to establish a new flock.


Well, there is more than one way to skin a cat (and bring about a revolution in sheep breeding at Yscoedreddfyn), and having given up on the parents, these astute sheep breeders have moved on to convince the next generation and have generously presented the children with two in-lamb Brecknock Hill Cheviot ewes - and very nice they are too.


We will have to watch this space. Yscoedreddfyn is unforgiving sheep country and I am keen to monitor their progress compared to my humble Epynt stalwarts over the coming months and years.


In a nation of farmers obsessed with sheep breeds, I am interested to see which breed will win out. Or perhaps ‘there are no such thing as good breeds, only good sheep’ as a good friend likes to tell me.

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