The Hound's editor was contacted by a Hawkes Bay sheep farmer about an item in the Oct 24 column on…
The annual showcase of Welsh agriculture and food production, the Royal Welsh Show is held at Builth Wells and attracts about 220,000 visitors over four days in mid summer.
The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (formed 1904 has held the event annually at the Mid Wales permanent showground since 1963.
Despite many significant changes over the years, Welsh agriculture has innovated, adapted and overcome the challenges. The latest challenge is last year’s decision by the UK electorate to part company with the European Union, with Brexit scheduled for March 2019.
The importance of agriculture in Wales – a country of 3.2 million people on a land mass of 20,761sq.km (8% of New Zealand’s area) – is shown by the sector’s employment figures. Some 58,000 people are employed full- or part-time on Welsh farms, and 223,000 work in the Welsh food and drink supply chain. This makes it the largest employer in the country, creating a NZ$10.72 billion revenue stream.
Unlike the NZ Fieldays, much of the emphasis at the Royal Welsh centres on livestock of all types – fowl, goats, pigs, sheep, beef and dairy cattle and equines of all shapes and sizes. The numbers speak for themselves: 140 goats,150 pigs, 660 beef, 840 dairy cattle, 3000 sheep and 3100 horses were entered in the 2017 event.
Alongside these live exhibits much emphasis is also placed on the complete food supply chain, with many industry partners taking space amongst the 1100 trade exhibitors.
Meat procurement businesses – at wholesaler, retailer and user levels -- work alongside industry promotional bodies such as Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) to promote the uniqueness of Welsh produce, particularly lamb and beef. Likewise, a huge food hall in the centre of the show carries on the theme. This features a wide variety of Welsh food and drink – from the smallest boutique makers to the largest multinationals like the well-known Marks and Spencer.
The event’s main theme is the value of Welsh agriculture to the nation. This is shown as a desire to interact with urban dwellers and explain why home-grown food is great value, seeking to dispell the myth that fresh food is difficult to prepare.
A host of promotional agencies show Welsh urbanites innovative ways to prepare produce and serve up healthy and nutritional meals, a premise that would not go amiss at many NZ events.