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Award for Agri-Academy student’s ‘exceptional’ farm action plan

One sheep farmer’s vision for shaping the future of a traditional family farm has earned him a Farming Connect Agri-Academy award at the 2017 Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

Huw Jones and his fellow 2017 Farming Connect Agri-Academy Business & Innovation Programme members had been set a challenge to produce a five-year ‘roadmap’ for a real life Somerset farm.

The action plans were based on original research and recommendations for delivering sustainability and profitability for Fernhill Farm.

The group spent three days at the farm before presenting their plans to a panel of judges, chaired by Professor Wynne Jones OBE FRAgS, chair of the Farming Connect strategic advisory board, and including the farmers, Andrew Ware and Jennifer Hunter, Gareth Wilson, head of Future Farming Policy at the Welsh Government, and organisational change consultant, Wyn Owen.

At a special ceremony at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Llanelwedd, Business & Innovation Programme co-ordinator, Geraint Hughes, of Menter a Busnes, said the panel was very impressed with the level of research carried out by members and the quality of their action plans. 

Although each had the same farming business to work on, they all came up with different recommendations.

But it was Huw Jones’s proposal that captured the judges’ attention and he was presented with an award for a plan described as “exceptional’’ by Professor Jones.

Huw, who farms in Brecon, said the course had broadened his horizons, taking members back to the basics and making them ask questions of themselves.

“It gave us an ability to look at what we have, to analyse that, and to ask ourselves what we personally want from the business,’’ he said.

Each member was presented with a certificate to mark their membership of the Agri-Academy.

During their time on the course, they had been put through their paces in a demanding and stimulating programme of visits, workshops and presentations in a variety of locations, including an overseas visit to Switzerland.

The application window for the 2018 Agri Academy opens at the end of January.