30 October 1998


A FARM visit by 150 children arranged by Montgomeryshire YFC proved to be a highlight of the county federations diamond jubilee celebrations.

Though many of the first year pupils from Llanfyllin High School live in the countryside, few in the group had first-hand knowledge of activities on a working farm. The visit provided a golden opportunity to counter ill-informed criticism of the industry and its products.

The choice of farm was inspired. Tom Tudors unit at Llanerfyl is widely-acknowledged as one of the best-managed beef and sheep farms in Wales. And Mr Tudor himself is known as a tireless promoter of the quality of Welsh lamb and beef.

On the day, though, he was content to sit back and let his land and livestock be used by others to re-polish farmings tarnished image, and explain the pressures producers are under.

There was no shortage of willing helpers. Agriculture teachers from Coleg Powys, members of local agricultural training groups and representatives of the two Welsh farming unions supported YFC members. People involved in the Powys Farm Accident Reduction Project were on hand to explain the importance of safety awareness.

&#42 Green factors

But the industrys responsibility for managing the countryside in an environmentally sensitive way was not forgotten. Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds were represented. So too was Cwysi, the organisation which promotes rural business development, with a demonstration of the correct way to store meat and other animal products.

Having learned how to select lambs for market, and watched demonstrations of foot paring and shearing, the children were told about the high level of investment farmers must make in their businesses. The keenest also took part in YFC leadership training and problem solving exercises.

The level of interest varied but there was no lack of enthusiasm for lunch. This was provided by Welsh Beef and Lamb Promotions.

Gwynfor Thomas, jubilee chairman, said members felt the visit was a fitting and unusual way of marking the 60th anniversary. They hoped it would contribute to the restoration of consumer confidence and help foster goodwill between the farming community and those it served.

He added wryly: "It also provided an opportunity to introduce the YFC movement to a wider audience. Its importance in rural communities cannot be over-estimated. It gives many youngsters the chance to widen their horizons, become involved with a team and to pursue a range of activities which would otherwise not be available to them.

"The childrens response exceeded my wildest expectations and the question and answer session at the end showed that the message had got across."

Robert Davies