13 July 2020


Sadly, the restrictions of Covid-19 have scuppered attending this year’s Royal Welsh Show for the thousands of visitors from across the globe, hundreds of exhibitors and world-class livestock that all contribute to making this annual event one of the highlights of the international agricultural calendar.  

Despite the huge disappointment of not actually getting together at Builth Wells later this month the show, one of the largest and most successful in Europe, will definitely go on, albeit remotely!  Although there can be no warm welcome from staff at the Farming Connect stand this year, Dewi Hughes, technical development manager with Menter a Busnes, which together with Lantra Wales delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, says the service has a comprehensive online offering, for every farmer and forester in Wales happy to join in online. 

This year’s Royal Welsh Show (July 20 – 23) will encompass a packed programme of online activities planned by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) and many of its enormously loyal stakeholders, including Farming Connect. Working collaboratively, they are determined to continue the longstanding tradition of showcasing the ‘best of the best’ across all areas of the industry.

Farming Connect has planned a thematic approach for each of the show’s four days, which all include a series of live webinars, Q&A sessions, an evening presentation from a ‘Demo Farm Live’ event in Pembrokeshire and much more.   

“We have planned a packed week for each day of the first ever ‘virtual’ Royal Welsh Show, with a varied programme which we believe will have something for everyone, from those just starting out on their professional journey, to more established and developed businesses,” said Mr Hughes.  

Each of the four days will start at 10am with a half hour long sector-specific webinar and live Q&A session, providing insight into current market forces and trends. There are also planned activities for each lunchtime slot, and again early evening, with a range of topics and speakers throughout.  

“We want everyone to plan ahead and book up as soon as possible, so visit the Farming Connect website as soon as you can to view our detailed ‘Virtual Royal Welsh Show’ programme for each day, as well as guidance on how to register for the programme and access the activities you select,” said Mr Hughes, who added that any eligible individuals not already registered with Farming Connect will be able to do so over the telephone, by calling the Farming Connect Service Centre on 08456 000 813.  

Monday (20 July) will focus on pigs and poultry. The Monday morning webinar will be presented by an expert from Kantar UK, a leading data, insights and consulting company, who will provide independent, up to date information on a range of topics relevant to all pig and poultry producers.   

At 12.30pm, be inspired by enterprising couple Kyle Holford and Lauren Smith who raise their own woodland and pasture fed special breed of ‘Welsh Black’ pigs at Forest Coalpit Farm in the Brecon Beacons. These two farmers had to ‘think inside the box’ when their usual award-winning restaurant customer base dried up due to Covid-19. It didn’t take them long to adapt to the changes forced upon them! They discovered a new market for selling and delivering pork meat boxes directly to customers. Find out how they safeguarded the future of their business during their presentation, which includes a live Q&A.  

Veterinary surgeon and highly respected pig expert Bob Stevenson will host the evening webinar on pig health and husbandry. He will also emphasise the value of Farming Connect’s animal health and welfare training options.

Tuesday (21 July) will shine a spotlight on the red meat sector. Hybu Cig Cymru will start Tuesday’s proceedings with a webinar on what farmers can expect as the red meat industry prepares for the challenges and opportunities of a future outside the EU and copes with the repercussions of the pandemic.   

There will be a lunchtime presentation on ‘Trace element supplementation in growing lambs’, from farm vet Victoria Fisher (Farm First Vets), who will also disseminate the results of a recent Farming Connect focus site project on the same topic.  

During the evening slot, well known academic and farmer Dr Prysor Williams of Bangor University will explain how the environmental sector is evolving rapidly, and why easily achieved good practices are not only better for the environment but also lead to more profitable businesses.  

Wednesday (22 July) is for dairy farmers. Guest presenter Patty Clayton, lead analyst for AHDB Dairy, will lead the morning webinar, providing an overview of the current dairy market and insights into the recent volatility within the dairy sector as a result of the pandemic. 

Farming Connect’s flagship personal development programme, the Agri Academy will take to the airwaves for the Wednesday lunchtime slot. A group of the programme’s alumni will host a webinar talking about their Agri Academy experience and its influence on their lives. Join this event to ask the panellists your questions and to hear how this unique programme of mentoring, training and study visits impacts on careers, personal and business aspirations and more. 

One of the week’s highlights will be the Wednesday evening event ‘Demo Farm Live’ from Mountjoy Farm in Treffgarne, Pembrokeshire.   

Dewi Hughes will facilitate this ‘remote’ interactive event from William Hannah’s farm, giving participants a virtual tour around this 186-hectare grassland farm, which supports a herd of 360 New Zealand-type Friesian dairy cows and 200 followers. 
“Why not join us for this ‘live’ on-farm event, when an invited panel of renowned dairy experts will be discussing a wide range of topics.

“Find out how the use of genomic technology is improving dairy productivity at Mountjoy farm and how the use of clovers is helping reduce the amount of nitrogen applied – of interest to many as the industry faces the forthcoming changes to NVZ regulations, “ said Mr Hughes who added that there will be an opportunity to ask questions live during the event. 

Thursday, (23 July) is for foresters and horticulturalists. The final day of the ‘virtual’ show will see Iwan Parry, chair of the Chartered Institute of Foresters, start the day with a webinar which will provide a market update on the forestry sector and an overview of the supply, demand and price trends for timber in Wales. 

The lunchtime slot will be taken by Chris Creed of ADAS, whose webinar will help would-be horticulturalists to consider their growing options to generate extra income. 

Click here to visit Farming Connect’s ‘virtual’ Royal Welsh Show programme which will show dates, times, topics, speakers and guidance on how to register your online attendance. Click here to view the timetable.

All webinars will be recorded and uploaded to the website for those who miss any of the week’s activities.      

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