Huw Jones (38) is a beef and sheep farmer in Talgarth, Powys. Huw won last year’s highly contested Business & Innovation programme challenge, producing a strategic business plan for a diversified rural business in the Mendip Hills.
“I was so impressed by the owners. Their core business was sheep farming but they had also invested both time and resources in new ventures ranging from holiday accommodation, artisan sheep’s wool products and craft workshops to hosting weddings and festivals.
“Everyone in the group was inspired by the couple’s initiative and work ethic, but I felt that by concentrating on the top performing areas of business, there was scope for increasing profit levels even further while also improving their work/life balance.”
Huw’s proposal included bringing in a manager which would give them more time to focus on increasing revenue through more targeted marketing and business development.
Huw says that the friendships and mentoring he experienced through the Academy has been life-changing.
“It is always easy to put things off or delay decisions, but I’ve been so encouraged and inspired by the people I’ve met, I will definitely implement what I’ve learned within my own business too. The Agri Academy has given me the confidence and boost I needed to get these new streams of income started!
Huw says he was very impressed by the attitudes of both the government officials and many Swiss farmers he met during the group’s overseas study visit.
“Switzerland is a nation which clearly prioritises the livelihood of its own people first, with a strong focus on strengthening rural economies and encouraging young entrants to the industry. Government policies are safeguarding the environment and by limiting imports to only those which are needed, they are creating optimum trading opportunities for farmers.”