As the dust settles on the Royal Welsh Show, our industry remains in the middle of a perfect storm which shows no sign of abating. Fellow lamb producers are rightly expressing their frustrations at woeful trade and while ’no lamb week’ has grabbed lots of attention, I’m more for ’buy lamb week’ – not least because we have the ‘ball and chain’ of a monthly mortgage, but also because we are producers and boosting UK consumption has to be the most realistic fix at present.
Alarmingly, HCC recently reported lamb consumption in Wales fell by 38 per cent last year. While there has been an improvement recently in the Welsh product on offer in the supermarkets, the shelf space available remains limited and retailers are still failing to pass on lower prices to the consumer. On this issue it is vital we don’t sleepwalk into disaster.
Speaking of disaster, Bob is very frustrated following the recent BPS announcement to adopt redistributive payments and top-up on the first 54 hectares (133 acres).
While this is a decision which will suit many, there is an inevitable judging from one’s own perspective and for us this is the worst possible outcome. Bobby is most disillusioned and he sees this decision as nothing more than a ‘cap’ on aspiration. The full impact of this decision cannot have been fully understood and he fears the Welsh economy will be the biggest loser due to jobs lost within farming and the allied industries.
There is significant frustration that having built a business from scratch, taken risks to get it to sufficient scale to give the next generation a better start in the industry than we enjoyed, we find ourselves disadvantaged in this way. In terms of impact, for us, it is quite simply the difference between being able to offer the next generation a chance to come home to farm and not.
While I worry what the long-term impact for our youngsters will be, I cannot question the guts, determination and ambition of our kids, and marvel at the fact that Trecastle YFC junior tug-of-war team pulled their hearts out at the recent Royal Welsh and the National Federation final at Tenbury Show on Saturday to become Welsh and national champions. It seems their team kit slogan is quite apt when it says ‘we have many problems but pulling isn’t one of them’!
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.