It is a great honour to be Chairman for Brecon & Radnor and I am looking forward to the next two years, writes NFU Cymru Brecon & Radnor County Chairman Rob Powell.

For those of you that don’t know me, I farm at Blaenbwch, Maesmynis, Builth Wells in partnership with my wife Tracy. We have two sons, Alun (18) who is studying Agricultural Engineering at Llysfasi College and Aron (10) who is in Builth Wells Primary School.

We farm 650 acres with common rights on the Epynt military range and on Lower Epynt. We run 2,750 ewes comprising of 1,000 Aberfield cross, 1,200 Epynt Hardys and 550 Welsh ewes. The Aberfield ewes are crossed with Texel and Charmoise rams. 700 are crossed with an Aberfield ram and the rest are kept pure using an Epynt Hardy or Welsh ram. We also run an agricultural contracting business. We are in our third year of producing 100,000 broilers per crop for Maelor Foods in Wrexham.

Brecon & Radnor NFU Cymru branch started the year with a trip to Westminster for a tour around the Houses of Parliament and the House of Lords, kindly organised by Fay Jones, MP. It was a great opportunity to discuss current issues in the farming and rural sector including the closure of many banks in rural areas. We also discussed the new Sustainable Farming Scheme. One of the major issues we talked about was the fact that the funding allocated from Westminster is no longer ring fenced for agriculture, which is a huge concern going forward. I personally enjoyed the tour around Westminster as the craftsmanship within the building was a sight to see.

I attended the NFU Cymru Council meetings in Cardiff in early January. A number of topics were discussed over the two days including the SFS. There was a lot of debate around how the new scheme was going to be rolled out by Welsh Government. At the moment the scheme will cause a lot of red tape for farmers to become eligible and we were promised that red tape would be significantly reduced when we left Europe.

During the meeting, we had talk from Clare Pillman, CEO of Natural Resources Wales. I was very disappointed with her overall knowledge of how things worked in agriculture. She could not provide a good explanation for the huge increase in fees for dipping licences and permits for poultry and pig units.

Brecon & Radnor held their annual County Conference in January with guest speakers Abi Kay, Farmers Weekly and Aled Jones, NFU Cymru President and I would like to thank them for their excellent presentations. Thanks also to Dan Johns, Communications Manager for his presentation. It was great to see a good turnout at the meeting.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sharon Hammond for steering the ship for the past two years and to Stella Owen who is going to keep me organised for the next two years! Thanks also to all the NFU Cymru staff.