‘We’re all in it together’ – rural economy spotlight

by Anne Birkett, FUW Press officer



How many businesses are involved in the running of a farm and how many people are directly and indirectly employed by the agricultural sector? How reliant is the rural community really on farming? Those were the questions the FUw asked recently. we often think about the obvious options, such as feed merchants, sales and auctioneers businesses, farm contractors etc. but how much does just one farm really contribute? To try and answer these questions Mid wales farmers John Yeomans, his wife Sarah and son Joe, recently hosted an event that put the spotlight on the importance of agriculture in the rural economy, at their farm, Llwyn y Brain, Adfa, near Newtown. A survey of the businesses that the Yeomans family deal with revealed 2,347 jobs at local and welsh level and also 225,980 at a wider national level were dependent on the survival of those businesses. on the farm, the Yeomans family run a herd of 73 cows consisting of pedigree Limousin, Limousin x, Belgian Blue x, and 15 homebred replacement heifers (closed herd). They further keep 495 ewes which are mainly Beulah and 160 Beulah ewe lambs and the flock has been closed since 1981. The couple sell Beulah draft ewes and some yearlings, as well as welsh Mule ewe lambs for breeding and sell finished lambs on a deadweight basis. The 232 acres of owned farmland sit between 750 feet to 1,420 above sea level, with 100 acres (34.8ha) of lower land and 132 acres (53.4ha) of largely improved hill land. A further 53 acres of additional land is rented. John, who was keen to explore the wider economic impact his business has on the wider rural economy, said: “Following the downturn in agriculture over recent times and across almost all sectors, I wanted to help highlight the importance of a thriving agricultural sector on the economy – both locally and much further afield. “Farmers are an exceptional conduit for money, so if their businesses are thriving they reinvest and this, in turn, brings wealth and good fortune to others.”The difficult times we are facing are clearly already impacting on our ancillary and support industries and businesses. “with this in mind, we were pleased to put the spotlight on all the businesses – both local and further afield – that have some stake in our survival. our relationship with these businesses is symbiotic and crucial to both our successes.” The event was attended by an array of local businesses and representatives such as Agri-Advisor, Agrimin, Bibby’s, Alpha Plumbers, FUw Insurance Services Ltd., E w Bumford & Co, RVw Pugh Ltd, I Jerman, Binding Tyre Services, Countrywide, westflight, Morris Marshall and Poole, British wool Marketing Board, wynnstay, R G and G R Francis, McCartneys, oPICo, Sainsbury’s, Genus, KiwiKit, Dunbia, E George & Son, Dow AgroSciences, Trefaldwyn Vets, Zoetis, Shearwell Data and HSBC, who play a role in John and Sarah’s daily business routine. John said: “I must thank the businesses who came to support the event and those that responded to our short survey for the valuable contribution they make to our business and the wider rural economy. “Supermarkets and slaughterhouses are just as important in our business as our local garage. over 22 per cent of the employment in wales is linked to farming or food in some way, so it is worth noting the important role we all play in keeping our economic powerhouse going. “Individually we may not be making a fortune for our solicitor, bank, garage or anything else. But together we are an important force. we hope days like this will help to get the message across about the connection between British food and the many businesses connected to it, why it is worth supporting your local farmer and how much of a difference each individual can make in terms of giving back to the local economy.” City Electrical Factors (CEF) are one of the businesses the Yeomans family trade with. C.E.F. are a national electrical wholesaler supplying businesses the length and breadth of the UK. The Newtown and welshpool branches sit in the heart of Mid-wales and as such are two of the most rural branches in the C.E.F. network. Across these two branches the company employs 11 staff, and nationally they employ about 2,750 members of staff. Darryl owen, manager of the two branches, said: “I feel it’s very important to employ local people to serve local people. Many of my staff have strong links to the local agricultural and farming community. “For us, in such a rural area, any downturn in agriculture has a serious knock on effect to our business and turnover in Newtown and welshpool. “It is not just the direct effect from farming businesses but indirectly through the electrical contractors who serve this market sector. “we service a very wide and diverse market sector which can all be affected by any downturn in the farming community. “Many small industries in Mid-wales are reliant on a strong agricultural customer base. If these small businesses begin to struggle they stop spending and that’s a big issue for us. “The on-going success of C.E.F. in Mid-wales is undoubtedly linked to the success of our agricultural community. Any effort or campaign that will highlight the importance of a healthy rural economy will definitely have my support.” RVw Pugh Ltd, an agricultural machinery dealership that specialise in the sales and aftersales of tractors and farm machinery to the agricultural industry, have their head office in Mellington, Mid wales. They have two further depots in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Market Drayton, Shropshire. The company employs 54 employees over the three depots, with 35 of them employed at the head office in Mellington. Managing director Robert Pugh said: “Agriculture is the backbone of our business, more than 95 per cent of our customers are farmers/contractors. we are obviously feeling the knock on effect of farmers struggling with commodity and produce prices, along with late receipt of single farm payments… at the moment we are owed £1.5m from creditors which fall outside of our 30 day credit terms. “This obviously puts pressure on our business and holds up cash flow which we could use to further improve and invest in our business during these difficult times.” FUw president Glyn Roberts, who attended the event said: “All the businesses that make the wheel of our rural economy go round have an important role to play in our daily lives and indeed how we all survive and make a living. “we know that a lot of second and third sector businesses are already struggling as a result of the knock on impact of low agricultural incomes and farmgate prices, and the potential wider impact if there was to be a further downturn in farm incomes could be catastrophic. “we must remember that agriculture is the powerhouse of the rural economy, generates billions of pounds which benefit a host of industries including many not directly associated with agriculture – something that is clear to see. “The impact of the most recent recession on our economy as a whole has been severe, but there can be no doubt that in rural Britain and many of our urban areas the impact has been buffered by the core role agriculture has played in generating income for communities the length and breadth of the UK. “with this in mind we will continue to represent and fight for those who make a living off the land and through that, support those second and third sector industries – as we have done since 1955 – in Cardiff, London and Brussels.” FUw Montgomeryshire county chairman, Mark williams added: “we were keen to explore in more detail how our rural economic powerhouse is sustained by individual farm businesses. “You’ve got your farm and the people who might be employed on it, whether that is family or external contractors, but it is also about the feed merchants, contractors, machinery dealers, local garages, supermarkets, farm shops, auctioneers, banks and solicitors – all of the businesses that are involved either in a direct or indirect capacity. “The message going back to consumers across the UK has to be ‘Support your local farmer – Support a thriving rural economy’.”

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