NFU Cymru appoints new president Aled Jones

This is the first column by Aled Jones, the new president of NFU Cymru

Wednesday 23rd February 2022 7:00 am
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Aled Jones
NFU Cymru President Aled Jones (Pic from NFU Cymru )

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I’d like to start my first column as NFU Cymru President by thanking NFU Cymru Council for giving me opportunity to take on this role.

Reflecting on the four years of being deputy president, I always wondered to myself what exactly would be involved in giving myself to this position.

Working with John Davies has given me tuition from an exceptional mentor.

I have been hugely appreciative of the work that John has done on behalf of the union and noticed the importance of interacting not only with members but with politicians and government officials.

I am immensely proud of what we deliver for the whole economy of Wales and would like to see a greater recognition of that throughout society.

For those who don’t know much about my background, I was born on a hill farm in Cwm Prysor, Trawsfynydd, the fourth of four children.

In 1963 my father bought a farm in Caernarfon with the intention of running the two farms together on a ‘Hafod a Hendre’ approach, the old approach of a hill and lowland farm complementing each other.

Unfortunately, my father was involved in a serious car accident in 1965 when returning from an NFU Cymru meeting.

Due to his injuries, the burden of running two farms and a young family led to his decision to sell the hill farm and thus concentrated at Caernarfon.

We continued to milk Welsh blacks until 1969 before the first Friesian came into the herd, eventually to the pedigree Holsteins we have now.

My father always encouraged me to attend NFU meetings, but I must confess that I used to think that meetings were for the older generation.

It was only when I eventually succumbed and attended that I realised the wealth that was contained within the NFU.

It didn’t take long for me to begin to take a more active role at a local level. Eventually I became a delegate on to the dairy board, being made chairman in 2012.

After six years of chairing the dairy board, I was asked to stand for deputy president.

It was an honour to be elected to serve fellow farmers and have always held the belief that the true essence of leadership is knowing how first to serve. Going forward I truly believe that there will always be critical periods for agriculture and those who have been in the industry a long time will have faced numerous challenges over the years.

My father always reminded me that no single sector of Welsh agriculture existed on its own and that there was a dependency on each other and that it should always be born in mind when designing agriculture policy.

Brexit has undoubtedly led us to a critical point and the need to design policies of our own in Wales.

It would be stating the obvious how crucial these policies will be to the strength and vitality of Welsh agriculture.

I am also conscious that an organisation like NFU Cymru always needs succession and hope we can encourage younger farmers to be more involved in the union.

They will be the ones to decide how to do so and the digital platforms they might employ.

I cannot wait for the Next Generation board to be in place.

I was once told that if you want to get somewhere fast that you should go on your own but if you want to go far take people with you.

I fear that Defra have attempted the former on policy design and fear they might not get to the desired end point.

I sincerely hope we in Wales get our plans right and that the path does not lead to a cliff edge.

It is great comfort to me having Abi Reader as deputy president who is undoubtedly blessed with many skills.

She will bring her own energy, creativity and special brand of engagement, so crucial in this day and age.

Hoffwn ddiolch o waelod calon ichi am y cyfle i fod yn Llywydd NFU Cymru, ymrwymaf i wasanaethu fy nghyd aelodau hyd orau fy ngallu ond yn hyderus yn y tïm sydd ganddom fel undeb. Yn wir mae’r pedair mlynedd diwethaf yma wedi dyfnhau yr edmygedd o’r hyn sydd ganddom yn NFU Cymru.

Byddaf yn edrych mlaen i gyfarfod cymaint ohonnoch a fydd yn bosib cyn hir, I will look forward to meeting so many members as possible as soon as restrictions allow.

Almost immediately after being made chairman the dairy crisis of 2012 happened, and it was really a baptism of fire.

What the nfu did on behalf of its dairy members is something that we should not forget. Granted the diary industry has suffered numerous periods of challenge in the intervening years but the solidarity platform that we had of being NFU embers was crucial.

. I was extremely pleased that Welsh Government decided not to proceed headlong in to a new policy without having first and foremost having considered the real lessons that needed ot be learnt from Covid-19 and also the new environment of having to decide on trade policies on our own.

I believe Defra have rushed ahead and now are realising some of the pitfalls that they should have considered long before.

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