IN the 21st year of its existence, the Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Scholarship Association is delighted to have two new scholars join its ranks.

Both have ambitious plans to improve 21st century farming and food production.

Peredur Owen, of Llanelidan, and Dafydd Huw Evans, of Pennal, were last week announced as the HCC’s 2018 scholarship recipients at a special reception at the Royal Welsh Show.

Each scholar will receive funding of up to £3,000 to study a particular topic within the red meat industry in another part of the world, allowing them to come back and implement their findings in order to improve their own personal development and enterprises as well as the red meat industry as a whole.

Scholars also join the prestigious HCC Scholarship Association, a network of past scholars who are able to share best practice, contacts and advice.

Peredur Owen, a graduate of Harper Adams University and current agricultural development officer at Dunbia in Llanybydder, will be travelling to North America to study the beef industry. Peredur said: "My main ambition within both the agricultural and food processing industries is to streamline and integrate the supply chain from farm to fork, especially with the uncertainties of Brexit on the horizon."

Peredur’s key focus will be looking at antibiotic usage and traceability.

He added: "America’s antibiotic usage within agriculture and the beef industry in particular, has gained a lot of media attention and is highly topical at present, so I will also be aiming to investigate this thoroughly on my travels.

"With this scholarship, I will be able to go beyond the headlines and see what goes on in the American beef industry for myself, from the breeding and genetics to anti-biotic usage and traceability right through to consumer opinion."

Dafydd Huw Evans, an agriculture graduate from Aberystwyth University, works on the family farm near Machynlleth, running a beef, sheep and dairy enterprise.

Dafydd Huw is planning on travelling to New Zealand.

Explaining the reasons for his choice, Dafydd Huw said: "New Zealand has a very similar topography to us here in Wales and is largely considered to be world leaders in efficient farm practice.

"The huge increase in dairying in New Zealand has seen beef and sheep enterprises cornered increasingly to more marginal land and parts of the country.

"Despite this change, New Zealand farmers are still able to run resilient and profitable businesses.

"I want to find out how more quality grazing can be achieved from low fertility land.

"From the point of view of my own enterprise, an improved grazing system would allow us to have a decreased reliance on bought-in feed.

"Gaining knowledge in this area will naturally benefit myself but hopefully many other Welsh farmers as well."

HCC’s industry development executive James Ruggeri said: "We had an increased number of applications for the scholarship this year from a very strong field of candidates.

"However, both Dafydd Huw and Peredur’s enthusiasm, technical knowledge and thirst to really make a difference to their own businesses and the industry as a whole stood out.

"I would like to offer both Peredur and Dafydd Huw my congratulations on behalf of HCC and the Scholarship Association.

"We have no doubt that their study missions will be highly valuable and they will successfully be able to share their findings and experience with their peers, counterparts and the entire industry."

This was not the only piece of good news for Peredur Owen at the Royal Welsh Show.

Nine young farmers from across Wales have financially benefited from this year’s Gareth Raw Rees memorial travel scholarship.

A total of £2,350 has been awarded by the management committee to scholars wishing to broaden their knowledge of agriculture, following a donation from the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust.

This year’s awards were presented by Dai Davies, the chairman of NFU Mutual’s Advisory Board for Wales, at the Royal Welsh Show last Tuesday.

This year’s main winner is James Evans, from Rhosgoch, near Builth Wells, who will receive £800 to help fund his travels to New Zealand.

There are eight further recipients from the scholarship this year, who are each receiving a financial contribution to help with their travels.

Peredur Owen receives £500 towards a three-week trip to the USA.

Commenting on his upcoming trip, Peredur said: “I want to advance my knowledge of the American red meat sector throughout their whole supply chain, in particular to look at how US producers are implementing antibiotic usage recording strategies.

"I’m also keen to learn more about their use of progressive genetics and estimated breeding values with a view to improving the efficiency and profitability of our own family farming business.”

The scholarship, which is administered by NFU Cymru, was set up in memory of the late Gareth Raw Rees who, for many years, was a delegate on the NFU Council and chairman of the NFU Cymru education committee.

Gareth believed fervently that travel was an important form of education for young people.