Prominent Pembrokeshire beef and sheep farmer Brian Thomas, who has served the Farmers’ Union of Wales for over two decades, has stood down as the union’s deputy president.

Brian is a past county chairman of the FUW in Pembrokeshire and has previously sat on the FUW’s central tenants' committee.

He was elected south Wales member of the central finance and organisation committee in 2011, vice-president of the FUW in 2013 and deputy president in 2015.

During the 1996 BSE outbreak, Mr Thomas led the campaign in south west Wales opposing the importation of inferior beef into Wales.

In 1997 he led a group of farmers to Tesco’s stand at the Royal Welsh Show to address them about the unfair way in which they were treating the industry and he has been a leading figure in the fight against bovine TB.

Thanking Mr Thomas for his long service at the union’s grand council meeting in Aberystwyth, FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “Brian has been a rock-solid friend and working partner for over 20 years. He is always willing to help, support and give advice. It is fair to say that Brian is someone I could and do rely on.

“From the very start, Brian has gone above and beyond in serving not just this union but the industry as a whole. He was never afraid to ruffle a few feathers if it meant farmers got a better deal, be that through leading protests or campaigning at Government level.

“It is fair to say that the industry in Wales has benefited greatly from Brian’s active lobbying and efforts to make our sector a better place for everyone involved. And on behalf of all of our members, I thank Brian for his long service and dedication to the Farmers’ Union of Wales.”

Brian added: “I’d like to thank you all for the opportunity to allow me to be your deputy president over these years. And I would also like to thank my colleagues of the former finance and organisation committee for their support. I wish the next deputy president the very best of luck.”

His successor is Carmarthenshire sheep farmer and former FUW vice-president Ian Rickman.

He has been an active union member for more than 20 years and was Carmarthenshire county chairman from 2010-2012. He has also held the post of chairman of the hill farming and marginal land committee, a position he has held for four years.

In 2017, Ian was elected as the FUW’s vice-president.

Over the past two years, he has worked tirelessly to represent the union and its members at a variety of Welsh Government meetings, at farm visits with MPs and AMs highlighting why #FarmingMatters and represented the union in a host of media interviews.

Ian is married to Helen and they have three sons. The family lives at Gurnos, an upland sheep farm near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. The farm extends to 220 acres with common grazing rights on the Black Mountain, and Ian is a member of the management committee of the Black Mountain West Graziers Association.

Outside of farming, he was chairman of governors of Ysgol Gynradd Ffairfach and also enjoys rugby. He is a keen follower of the Scarlets and is an active Welsh learner.

Speaking about his appointment, Ian Rickman said: “I am honoured to have been elected as deputy president for the FUW. These are big boots to fill and I thank our former deputy president Brian Thomas for everything he has done for agriculture in Wales.”