By Meyrick Brown

Over recent years both the president of the National Farmers Union of England and Wales and the president of the union within Wales have been members of the Pembroke county branch – Meurig Raymond from the north west area and Stephen James from the Narberth area – and both stand down next month having successfully completed two consecutive terms in office

Initially Meurig was elected in 1995 to represent the Pembroke county branch on the national council of the union and served as vice-chairman of the cereals committee between 1999 and 2001 and on the Agricultural Wages Board for six years from 1998. He was elected as vice-president of the NFU in 2004, became deputy president in 2006 and president in 2014.

His successor will be elected next month and is likely to be either the present deputy president, Wiltshire farmer Minette Batters, or the current vice-president, Guy Smith from Essex.

At Wales level, Stephen James stands down in favour of his deputy, Brecon farmer John Davies.

Candidates for the role of deputy president include hill farmer Hedd Pugh from mid Wales, milk producer Aled Jones from north Wales and Cardiganshire livestock specialist, Wyn Evans.

At local level Wolfscastle dairy farmer, Jeff Evans, has been elected to serve for a second year as Pembroke county branch chairman – a move which sees the county fall in line with the other ten areas in Wales who appoint their chairmen (or women) for a two-year term.

Jeff was recently involved in organising a dinner to suitable mark the 200th anniversary of the union being founded in Pembrokeshire and to celebrate the fact that two very able members have come up “through the ranks” to lead the union nationally and at Wales level.

Amongst those present were a large number of past county chairmen and officials and the wives of several of those who have passed on.

Guest of honour was Lord Plumb, who, unfortunately, lost his voice at a crucial moment but a young supporter, Aled Jones – who is about to stand down as assistant chief executive of the Royal Welsh Show – admirably entertained the guests.

Meurig Raymond and Stephen James also spoke. Meurig said Henry – as Lord Plumb was then known to everyone –was elected to the role of NFU vice-president at the age of 38, and was subsequently NFU president for almost 10 years. He later became an MP, MEP, member of the House of Lords for more than 30 years and was also the first, and now only, British president of the European Parliament.

“Throughout his life, Henry’s two abiding interests have been farming and Europe. As a farmer’s son and devoted stockman, farming was always in his blood. Interest in European co-operation came to him when as a young boy he watched Coventry in flames from the fields of his father’s farm.

“Recently, bowing out of national politics as he gave his farewell speech to the House of Lords, it was somewhat poignant that it should mainly concern British farming and Brexit.

“Henry has considerable concerns about the way things are going and it is a fair bet that his satisfaction at the close of a distinguished political career will be tinged with sadness. At 91, I wish him well in retirement.”

This year’s county NFU conference for Pembrokeshire takes place at the Nantyffin Motel, Llandissilio on Thursday, January 26 at 7pm when the main speaker will be the NFU director general, Terry Jones.

Mr Jones is a graduate in rural resource management of the University of Reading and gained a postgraduate diploma in food and grocery industry management from the University of Edinburgh.