This month’s Royal Welsh Agricultural Winter Fair will be the venue for the final of one of Wales’ most prestigious farming titles – NFU Cymru / NatWest Wales Woman Farmer of the Year.
Now in its 15th year, the competition aims to celebrate the often forgotten contribution that women make to Welsh farming. Previous winners have gone on to hold key roles in the industry and win other awards.
This year those shortlisted are from Powys, Gwynedd and Carmarthenshire. They are:
Christine Lewis, Brynowen Farm, Trefeglwys, Caersws, Powys. Christine has demonstrated that being female and having young children needn’t hold you back in the male dominated world of farming. She established her own farming enterprise in 2000 and over the last ten years she has developed the ‘Brynowen’ flock of 250 pedigree registered lleyn ewes and received national recognition through society sales, winning prizes in pre-sale shows and commanding top prices for her elite females and breeding rams.
Mari Evans, Erwfaethlon, Cwmmaethlon, Tywyn, Gwynedd. Mari set up Direct Welsh Lamb. She was also the driving force behind the setting up of Cig Oen Maethlon – a catering trailer selling Welsh lamb burgers at various events. She also set up a cutting plant on the farm to sell the meat.
Claire Beddoe, Disgwylfa, Cwmdu, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. Claire is the owner occupier of a 32 acre LFA holding on which she farms 22 suckler cows and 30 breeding ewes. She lets two farm cottages and has recently renovated the main farmhouse B&B and will be trading shortly. As well as running her own farm she also does relief milking.
NFU Cymru Deputy President, Stephen James said, “When shortlisting we, as judges, looked for women who demonstrated the part they play in making the farm a successful economic unit, their contribution to improving the role of women in farming and their involvement in local community life and other organisations.”
“It was very difficult to whittle the finalists down this year,” admits Andy Woodthorpe, NatWest’s Business Banking Rural Wales Director, the competition’s sponsor. “But they all have one thing in common – complete commitment to their farms and to the industry as a whole.”
The winner will receive £500 and an engraved crystal fruit bowl, while the runners-up will receive £100 each. The judges will carry out on-farm interviews with the shortlisted candidates before announcing the winner on the Monday of this year’s Winter Fair.