Cutting out the Woolly Thinking Is the Secret of Global Success; Montgomeryshire Farmer Steve Smith Explains Why He Has High Hopes for the Future of the Wool Industry despite Uncertainties in the Politcal and Economic Arenas

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

Cutting out the Woolly Thinking Is the Secret of Global Success; Montgomeryshire Farmer Steve Smith Explains Why He Has High Hopes for the Future of the Wool Industry despite Uncertainties in the Politcal and Economic Arenas


Well-known in farming circles throughout Wales and the UK, Steve Smith is a former Welsh Sheep Farmer of the Year and has won many accolades for his prize-winning Penparc Texel flock.

He achieved an ambition in 2010 by winning the supreme pairs at the Welsh Winter Fair and is well-versed in the challenges and opportunities being a first-generation farmer can bring, but is realistic about the priorities that have to be made to achieve your dream.

Steve has built up his farming enterprise to approximately 1,200 acres. The business is spread over two holdings in Montgomeryshire and Meirionnydd, where a fully stratified sheep system is in operation.

He recognises the great maternal instincts and longevity of the Welsh hill flock and its influence in building a sound genetic maternal base on which the finished lamb enterprise is based.

The pedigree Pen Parc Longhorn herd also runs alongside, and he focuses on marketing this to the high-quality market.

The holdings are part of the Welsh Government Glastir suite of agri environment schemes and the aim of the family has always been to match sustainable land management with top-quality breeding stock, and these two founding principles have been behind the success of the business.

Steve has always had a great appreciation for nature and the need to prioritise sustainability.

He said: "I have always respected nature and its environment before it became fashionable."

In the late 1990s the family further diversified into holiday cottages and more recently renewable energy.

For the past nine years Steve has been the Montgomeryshire British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) representative and is now looking to become the Welsh Northern Region elected member, to represent the interests of Welsh farmers and further promote the work of Welsh farmers and the BWMB.

He has a global outlook, an understanding of how the markets work and what is needed to make a success of the industry, all of which is now more important than ever given the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

"Every asset on the farm, and that includes wool, will need to meet consumer demands as efficiently as possible," he said.

"It is easy to forget why co-operatives were originally set up. They were set up at times of adversity to make the farming voice stronger. Our forefathers were some of the greatest entrepreneurs of their time.

"The last few decades have seen farmers become more isolated through the need for efficiencies and increased mechanisation."

In an age of globalisation and free trade, the time may come again when farmers have to strengthen their voice to be heard. …

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