Owain Pugh (29) has been appointed as the Farming Connect development officer for North Montgomeryshire. Owain takes over from well-known local agricultural support officer Gwenan Ellis, who has moved to a new role within Menter a Busnes.
Owain grew up on the family hill farm in Dinas Mawddwy, where he combines his Farming Connect role with helping his father and two brothers run a flock of mainly Welsh Mountain ewes. Farming Connect is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
After undertaking a national diploma in agriculture at Coleg Glynllifon, Owain attended Aberystwyth University, graduating with a BSc in agriculture. He then combined helping out at home with working for a local contractor until joining Farming Connect.
A keen member of Dinas Mawddwy YFC, Owain says this has given him a great network of like-minded friends and contacts. His farming background combined with his academic studies has given him a particular interest in animal health and husbandry as well as grassland management.
A regular attendee at Welshpool mart, Owain is keen to meet farmers and foresters in his area to encourage them to get involved with Farming Connect’s demonstration network, its events programme and support services.
“Gwenan has built up a big network of farming families supported by Farming Connect over a long period of time, so my aim is to build on that, reaching as many farmers as I can to ensure the same level of service and support continues.
“I want to ensure that farm businesses tap into the many projects our demonstration network is running which range from tackling lameness in sheep to trialling a speciality clover to find out whether it can thrive as a forage crop in the Welsh climate.
“I am also keen to encourage more farmers to get involved with benchmarking, because this useful comparison tool is already helping many farmers in Wales transform business efficiency and productivity.
Owain manages five topic-led discussion groups on dairy, sheep and poultry.
“Farming Connect can provide support across many different disciplines, and I’m enjoying the role of signposting farmers and foresters to the package of services and projects that will help ensure their businesses perform at their best,” said Owain.
To contact Owain and find out how Farming Connect can benefit you and your business, click here or call Owain on 07904 457316.
Q & A
Essential qualities for the job? It’s important to have a good knowledge of the area and to be approachable. I enjoy farming, so I hope I can impart my enthusiasm to others, which is why my background definitely helps.
Best moment in your job/thing you love most about your job? I find it very rewarding when I can help a farmer find solutions to problems or challenges. Farming Connect has an important part to play – we can show farmers what success looks like, and it’s great when you can see farmers implementing what they’ve learned.
If you could swap jobs with anyone for a day who would it be and why? I’d quite like to play scrum half for Wales in an international game, but wouldn’t every keen Welsh rugby player! And I’d quite like to swap a day with someone whose mornings don’t start quite as early as mine! Most farmers never get a lie-in – you’re on call day and night if you keep livestock!
Best advice you’ve received - and from whom? Having been brought up on a farm, I think seeing my grandparents and parents working hard has brought home to me that ‘you sow what you reap’. If you try your best and focus on the job in hand, you’re more likely to succeed in life!
What makes you laugh? A lot of things make me laugh, too many to mention. I think having an optimistic outlook and looking on the bright side of things makes everything seem better. I’m definitely a glass-half-full type – which helps as a farmer facing the uncertainties of Brexit!
Most embarrassing moment? Regular readers of this column may remember that one of my Farming Connect colleagues said his most embarrassing moment was being rescued by the RNLI when as students, the rather dodgy speedboat we bought ran out of petrol in sight of shocked tourists gathered on the prom in Aberystwyth. I was on that fateful trip! I was the one who tied the rope to my surfboard to try and get it moving! It didn’t budge – the RNLI is a wonderful charity!
What three things would you take with you on a desert island? Based on the last point, I’d like to take a DIY book on mending boats! I’m keen on comfort, so a deckchair would be very welcome and finally I’d like to take a guitar. I’d have time to learn how to play it!
Non-farming interests? Watching rugby and football. I used to be a very keen player too, but I’ve less time these days and as a farmer, it’s difficult to take time off when you’re injured.
Proudest moment? That’s probably connected with rugby – I won the Youth Player of the Year award for Dolgellau RFC a few years ago – heady stuff when like most impressionable youngsters, you think anything’s possible and you fancy your chances of playing for Wales!
What’s the future of farming? We have never worked in a more uncertain, doom-laden economic climate but that doesn’t mean we should sit back and wait. Preparation could be key to a sustainable, profitable future for all farmers so I would urge all businesses to tap into all the support and advice available.