He came from a non-farming background but set his heart on being a farmer at an early age. Now, the determination to succeed combined with dedication, the willingness to learn from others and sheer hard work has landed 32-year-old Powys farmer Rhidian Glyn with one of UK farming’s top awards!
Rhidian, who farms a Farming Connect demonstration site at Rhiwgriafol in Machynlleth, was last night (18 October) revealed as a gold award winner of the ‘New Entrant: Against all odds’ category at the spectacular British Farming Awards ceremony held at the National Conference Centre, Birmingham.
More than 700 farmers and industry professionals attended the event, which showcased the innovation and achievements of British farmers across the agricultural industry. Organised by AgriBriefing, parent company of Farmers Guardian, Dairy Farmer and Arable Farming, the 14 awards categories covered UK farming’s core sectors including beef, arable, machinery, agricultural students and diversification.
Rhidian’s parents were both teachers but having been brought up in rural Mid Wales, he set his heart on becoming a farmer from a very early age. He graduated from Aberystwyth University where he obtained a BSc in agriculture before taking up his first job in agriculture as an animal feed representative.
In 2008, alongside his day job, Rhidian decided to rent just nine acres of poor grazing land where he kept 15 Welsh Mountain ewes. It was a modest start, but success soon spurred him on and, while gaining more experience all the time, he soon had the confidence to take on additional larger parcels of grazing land as they became available in his local area.
In 2014, Rhidian and his wife Elen approached Farming Connect to obtain a business plan through the programme’s Advisory Service which they say was critical to them securing a ten year Farm Business Tenancy at Rhiwgriafol, a 530-acre hill farm.
Alongside running the farm, Rhidian currently holds an 11 month grazing license on 160 acres five miles away. He has invested both time and resources and the flock has now grown to a profitable enterprise with 900 ewes and 250 replacements.
“Armed with our business plan for Rhiwgriafol, which we were able submit with our application for the tenancy, we had the confidence to proceed with our application as well as guidance on how to develop the business long term.”
At Rhiwgriafol, which became a Farming Connect demonstration site in 2016, lambs are mainly sold deadweight to Dunbia on Sainsbury’s YFC and Taste the Difference schemes.
Rhidian runs a flock of Welsh mountain ewes half of which are crossed with Aberfield rams and breeding females are sold at a premium. He has also focussed on improving overall efficiency of the flock and has started performance recording in order to maximise production and add value to the breeding stock that he sells.
A new heifer rearing enterprise has now been added to the business, receiving approximately 110 calves annually, and rearing them for 17 months, resulting in around 220 cattle on the farm over the summer period with 110 in the winter.
Rhidian sees a future without support payments as a challenge for keen, driven and hardworking farmers to flourish and grow viable businesses. He also intends to increase his use of rotational grazing to help improve the profitability and productivity of the land, this would include the introduction of his own herd of cattle.
“Being a Farming Connect demonstration site has given me access to top industry information and advice, which through our open day events and other communication channels benefits not just our business, but other similarly ambitious farmers keen to work more efficiently or profitably.
“The collective aim of all farmers must be to increase the sustainability of the farm business and enable future business development, despite the current uncertainties affecting our industry.”
Throughout his time within the agricultural industry, Rhidian has taken every opportunity to be involved with rural life and agriculture in general. A graduate of Farming Connect’s prestigious personal development programme, the Agri Academy, he is a former chairman of his local Young Farmers Club; secretary of Bro Ddyfi Grassland Society and treasurer of the local agricultural show.
The judges said about Rhidian: “Rhidian had a well-thought-out plan. He had made the right connections through employment and Young Farmers and continues to do so.
“Networking has opened opportunities such as heifer rearing, looking outside the farm and engaging with new ideas.
“He has worked hard to get to where he is today and does not take anything for granted, instead challenging himself as he goes and listening to his strong support network.”
On winning, Rhidian said:“I’m very grateful for all the help and support I’ve had over the years since I first started out.
“Agriculture is a brilliant industry to work in because it’s diverse and every day is different, but I’m also conscious that all farmers need to look to the future and plan ahead, to develop as business people and ensure that farm businesses are safeguarded for future generations.
“Although it’s been a long journey to get where we are today, all the effort has paid off and I’m very honoured to have received this award.”