by Alan Davies, FUW Managing Director
The last few weeks has seen much of Wales in “show season” as the local and county shows have been taking place around the country. Visiting so many of these shows has been an absolute pleasure for me, mainly as I’ve been visiting many of them for the first time. But far more importantly they have given me more opportunities to meet and discuss #FarmingMatters with members around the country and to outline what we are trying to do as an union to prepare the future for agriculture in Wales. everyone reading this will know that shows are important in so many ways: a time to show the quality of produce, a time to meet and catch up with old friends and increasingly a time to demonstrate the value of agriculture to a wider audience. At all the shows I’ve seen many people with little or no background in agriculture who are increasingly interested in food, food production, quality produce and buying locally; either for trust or for belief in managing food miles. To that end, I think we are currently riding on a level of public interest rarely seen before, but we need to do more to help people understand what farming is all about. Doing so will also be important when we need to build a new way of supporting agriculture in the non-eU controlled future. I’ve had too many messages from Government staff recently saying that we will “need to justify any support for farming” to make me think that it will be an easy ride to get correct support structures, unless there is also wider public support for farming. The “Farm Sunday” visit programme that ran across the UK a month or two ago was a great help here, as are links with schools where we can stimulate interests in the younger generation. But I would hope that over the coming months we will be able to develop some more activity to outline to the wider public the important role of farming, especially in our rural communities. elsewhere in this paper there is mention of our #FarmingMatters campaign and we will keep with this message for some time to come. It is having an impact and when you hear the messages in the context of shows, the importance of farming is truly brought to life for so many people. The opportunity to talk at the shows should not be underestimated: regular discussions with politicians, in far more relaxed surroundings, have given us the chance to plant many messages about concerns for the future. In the coming months we will be meeting with UK and Welsh Government ministers to discuss our concerns for a post-Brexit world in greater detail. And it is important to note that whilst agriculture is a responsibility devolved to the Welsh Government, the funding of agriculture is not. So the Westminster Government remains incredibly important in developing the way forward when it comes to the management of funding. Before I finish I want to mention a tool we’ve built on our website to help members lobby their elected politicians. Currently based on our #FarmingMatters campaign, you can find your elected representatives by entering a postcode and then choosing who you want to email. There is a pre-prepared campaign letter available for you to use, but you can amend that if you want. The more we remind politicians about the importance of farming and its role in the rural economy, the more chance there is that our fantastic local shows will survive for years to come.