Rachael Madeley Davies
Bala, North Wales (organic)
Beef & sheep
SHEEP & BEEF, NORTH WALES: Rachael farms in partnership with her husband, Geraint, on a hill farm in Snowdonia National Park. It is 1,200 acres (486 hectares) of hill, woodland and blanket bog and has been certified organic since 2005. They also manage 33 acres (14 hectares) of ancient oak woodland on the farm which Rachael describes as "a bit of a love affair".
The pair have 600 breeding ewes, 100 ewe lambs (which join the flock as breeding ewes when they are old enough) and 100 beef cows, known as 'sucklers' because they rear their own calves, unlike dairy cows. The cattle are predominantly Welsh Black, a hardy native breed. There are usually about 200 head of cattle on the farm at any one time.
Rachael and Geraint used to have 1,000 ewes but reduced stocking rates to insure themselves against the uncertainty caused by Brexit. They decided to focus on the quality of stock produced rather than quantity. Both Rachael and Geraint have 'diversified' into off-farm work. They also own a property which they use as a holiday let, run separately from the farming business.
Nearly 80 percent of the farm is classified as 'upland' so Rachael understands the pressures on these fragile areas. She has signed up for various environmental schemes which help to manage and protect this habitat. She passionately believes food can be produced in harmony with environmental protection.
It took Rachael some time to find her calling. She is a politics graduate and was called to the bar in 2008 but decided against a legal career. Instead she worked in senior management positions in the food retail sector, working for Marks and Spencer and two large farming estates with food retail businesses. After seven years at the retail end of the supply chain, Rachael's attention turned towards where the food was coming from – farms. She has been working in agriculture ever since.
Rachael works full-time as Head of Sustainability and Future Policy for Hybu Cig Cymru, Wales' red meat levy board.
Member of Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) and National Farmers Union (NFU). Employed by Hybu Cig Cymru.
National TV and radio, local and national newspapers and magazines.