PHOTO ABOVE: Erin with a BBX heifer
Erin is a 4th generation beef and sheep farmer at Pandy Farm in Bala, North Wales. She has an impressive social media following gained through sharing weekly updates of her farming life after taking over her family farm at 18 years old, just after finishing her A-levels.
Her farming journey started from humble beginnings with just a small flock of 20 sheep; since then, she has grown her flock to over 350 breeding ewes and 40 head of cattle. Erin is now a well known and loved character within the farming community, having been an ambassador for the NFU and contributing to campaigns and educating school pupils, to being a member of Farming Connect’s Business and Innovation Agri Academy.
What do you think are the current biggest issues facing the agricultural sector?
For us in Wales, I’m sure the biggest worry are the proposals in the Sustainable Farming Scheme. We are currently due to have our last consultation before the scheme is put in place from 2025 onwards.
One of the biggest debates amongst the Welsh agricultural industry is the proposal for 10% tree cover on farms. Getting the scheme right is essential for us in Wales as it will shape how our futures will look, along with our landscape, and the businesses that operate within. It’s important to get this balance right – the ability to nurture nature and increase the carbon sequestration ability of our farms while producing nutritious food in an abundant supply to meet the increasing global population.
It’s important to also remember our extremely fortunate position within the global food industry. While other countries are unfortunately experiencing the devastating effect of climate change, which will continue to worsen, we in Great Britain continue to have the perfect conditions to be producing climate-friendly food – and plenty of rain to grow luscious grass!! This point should be reflected in the Sustainable Farming scheme when referring to proposals which relate to the environment.
PHOTO: One of Erin’s favourite pictures taken from her land above the Llyn Tegid Lake.
As a woman in the agricultural industry (who I’m certain has inspired many more), what are your views on the stigma of women not being able to fit in to the agricultural community?
Personally, I have never been made to feel different or incapable. I’m extremely lucky to have such a supportive family. From a young age I was always the one out on the farm with my grandad; I think everyone knew I’d be the one to eventually take over.
I do however see why some women might feel intimidated in some circumstances such as market days, which are usually heavily male dominated environments. These thoughts are usually just in your head, and once you start talking to other farmers and getting to know everyone this becomes a lot less daunting, and you start to worry less about fitting in.
PHOTO: Film crew on farm creating content for tv shows and media.
What have been your biggest achievements since you took over your family farm?
I think the main achievement for me has been the improvement in the quality of our stock on the farm. We started off with relatively cheap draft ewes but have seen an impressive improvement in the quality of stock after buying in tups and retaining ewe lambs to build up my flock.
Before taking over from my Grandad who unfortunately suffered with health issues, he had cut down his flock and herd quite drastically, but he would still be achieving top prices at the market for his lambs and cattle. I had always dreamed of doing this on my own some day! After 2 years of running the farm, I am now starting to achieve the same as he did.
PHOTO: Erin with her three main dogs; Moxy, Del and Sam
If you had to give any words of advice to someone in a similar position to yourself taking over a family farm, what advice would you give them?
My main bit of advice would be to take every opportunity that is thrown your way and shape your career in agriculture the way you want it to be. People tend to believe that being in wellies and mucky coats is the fate that you choose when you become a farmer but that’s not true, there is so much more to farming life than that.
Through taking on different ambassador roles I’ve been lucky to visit Westminster on several occasions, different conference events and have been a guest speaker at many public engagements; I also had the opportunity to visit Canada through the Agri Academy. The scope of agriculture is massive, and I am so proud to be a part of this Industry.