Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

RSPB Cymru recently held a joint visit at Slade Farm Organics for members of the Senedd’s CCERA (Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs) committee, with organic farming organisations and the Nature Friendly Farming Network.

 Slade Farm is a lowland, mixed organic farm in St Brides Major, run by Polly Davies and her family. Polly manages the farm in sync with the natural habitats. Being an organic farm, no pesticides or herbicides are used and experts are also drafted in to develop natural habitats for native farmland plants and wildlife.

The farm is an excellent example of how farmers and land managers can work with nature to ensure both environmental sustainability and economic resilience. By visiting the farm, we wanted to show Assembly Members how taxpayers’ money could be used to achieve this once we leave the EU, in the form of a combined Public Goods and Economic Resilience Scheme.

Leaving Cardiff Bay behind for a few hours, five AMs and members of the CCERA committee joined us at the farm, including Mike Hedges, John Griffiths, Jenny Rathbone, Joyce Watson and Andrew RT Davies. Attendees also included representatives from other organisations, such as the Soil Association.

The aim of the visit was to contribute to the upcoming CCERA committee biodiversity inquiry and highlight the need for future policy to provide farmers with the right tools to restore nature. We arrived at the farm just in time to see the animals have breakfast, while Polly began proceedings with an explanation of the nature-friendly methods used at Slade Farm, including the ploughing of fields to grow cereals. This practice has decreased significantly in recent decades – an issue which has contributed to the overall decline of farmland nature.

 With the sun shining, we headed off on a trailer ride where Polly showed us all exactly how she runs her environmentally-friendly farm by highlighting the various habitats created and how they benefit a diversity of species, including skylarks. Speaking about why it is so important to work with nature, Polly Davies said:

"We have to be responsible as farmers for profitability but also for the environment, if we get paid for something we should be able to explain clearly why to the taxpayer. I am just a steward here, I look after the land temporarily while nature will be here for a long time, so I have a responsibility to look after it."

As well as hearing Polly’s thoughts, one of the key highlights of the day was getting a chance to see the yellowhammers that call Slade Farm home. Yellowhammers are among one of the species showing significant decline according to the recently published State of Birds in Wales 2018 Report, so to see them really was a special treat for all. As a keen birdwatcher, Joyce Watson AM was especially excited with it being the first time that she’d seen this increasingly rare bird.

We would like to thank Polly and all involved for a great visit and we look forward to contributing further to the CCERA inquiry at the evidence session on 7 February.  As our work on Wales’ future agricultural policy intensifies over the coming months, we’ll need the help of as many of our supporters as possible to ensure that the policies created are right for nature. If you haven’t done so already, you can sign up to be one of our campaign champions here.

Images in order they appear: Slade farm sheep and Polly Davies talking to AMs and CCERA committee.