RECENTLY appointed environment minister, Hannah Blythyn AM, got to see first-hand how food production and caring for, and enhancing the Welsh environment and landscape go hand in hand.

The minister visited the hill and upland sheep farm of Garry Williams, Blaencennen, Gwynfe where Garry was able to show the her some of the environmental work that he has carried out within the Glastir Advanced agri-environment scheme. This work has included tree planting, hedge coppicing and the introduction of root crops into his grazing rotation.

Garry was also able to take the minister to his local common, the Black Mountains, and explain how he and fellow graziers work together to manage the common under a Glastir commons agri-environment scheme.

Speaking after the meeting, Garry Williams said: “It was a pleasure to take Hannah Blythyn AM around the farm and show how we, as farmers, manage our land to ensure that we produce food as efficiently as possible, in my case sheep production, whilst continually looking to opportunities to enhance the environment and biodiversity on farm. All this is only possible through viable and profitable core farming businesses.

“I was also pleased to be able to explain to the minister the role that farmers play in a living and vibrant rural community, between my farming enterprise and the small tourism business that we have established over the last few years, we regularly engage with over 40 local businesses that range from our local agricultural merchant, contractors employed to carry out routine field work, to electricians, welding fabricators and our accountant and solicitor. All of these businesses in a rural county like Carmarthenshire rely on farms like mine for a significant part of their income.

“Farming is what makes rural economies thrive and why it is so important that future agriculture policy for Wales continue to support farmers to deliver for the economy, the environment and the social fabric of Wales.”

Hannah Blythyn said: “I am very grateful to Garry for the welcome and to NFU Cymru for arranging the visit. It was a pleasure to meet everyone and to learn more about the important work that takes place on the farm. I place great value on opportunities like this to find out first-hand about the environmental challenges and opportunities facing farmers in Wales.”