Former NFU Cymru president, Stephen James, has been announced as the winner of the Idris Davies Memorial Award for 2018 during a ceremony at Pembrokeshire County Show.

Stephen runs a 330 cow dairy farming herd in partnership with his wife Joyce and son Daniel and is a well-known and hugely respected figure in agricultural circles throughout Pembrokeshire and beyond.

He reached the pinnacle of agricultural politics in being elected NFU Cymru president in 2014, a position he held for four years and before that he served as NFU Cymru deputy president from 2010 until 2014.

Stephen led NFU Cymru’s lobbying to Welsh Government, Westminster and was at the forefront of NFU Cymru’s engagement with major retailers and processors.

Stephen’s association with NFU Cymru spans over 20 years and he has held numerous positions including local branch chairman, county chairman, animal health and welfare lead, bovine TB spokesperson, NFU governance board member, NFU policy board member and NFU audit committee member.

During his time as NFU Cymru president he has also held a number of positions at European agri-political level including membership of COPA (the European Farming Organisation), COPA animal health and welfare group as well as a number of European Commission working groups.

It was the issue of bovine TB that first ignited Stephen’s desire to get more involved with NFU Cymru at a local level and he went on to become NFU Cymru’s lead on all policy issues around animal health and welfare including being the main contact between NFU Cymru and Welsh Government, DEFRA and the various veterinary organisations as well as NGOs such as the RSPCA.

Stephen has engaged with all aspects of the bovine TB debate and has been equally as adept in putting forward the farmers’ perspective to the anti-badger cull lobby by engaging with organisations such as the RSPCA and the Badger Trust and he hosted the celebrity campaigner Brian May on his farm to show him the impacts of bovine TB on his farming family.

Stephen has also been at the forefront of NFU Cymru lobbying for fairer terms and conditions around milk supply contracts and he was one of the leaders of the coalition of organisations which came together in 2012 that led to the ‘SOS Dairy’ emergency summit.

This saw more than 2,500 farmers gathering in Westminster in July 2012 following a series of vicious milk price cuts that threatened to send hundreds of farming families out of business. The campaign bought the plight of dairy farmers to the wider public and also united the industry.

As well as farmers, SOS Dairy bought together everyone who relies on farmers for their livelihoods – from feed suppliers and machinery dealers to vets, agricultural lawyers and farm business consultants.

Stephen led the lobbying effort against Welsh Government proposals to expand areas of nitrate vulnerable zones in Wales, with the Welsh Government announcing in December 2017 that they won’t take forward any new NVZ areas at this time and will look instead to work with local farmer-led initiatives to tackle local issues to try and improve water quality.

Stephen’s contribution to the local agricultural scene has not just involved the NFU, he has also been heavily involved in many other local organisations and societies who are active in the local community; these include Clynderwen Community Council, Clynderwen Show Society, Narberth Grassland Society, Clynderwen & Cardiganshire Farmers Ltd and Pembrokeshire YFC. He has also been honoured as both an associate and a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies.

Stephen has worked tirelessly to promote and protect the interests of NFU Cymru members by working with and influencing government, the supply chain and consumers in order to secure a stable and sustainable future for Welsh agriculture and to get the best possible deal for its members.

Mansel Raymond, chairman of the Idris Davies Memorial Award management committee, said: “Stephen has made an outstanding contribution to the agricultural community in Pembrokeshire in many ways, over many years and he joins some excellent company in becoming this year’s winner of this prestigious award.”