Anglesey dairy farmer William Williams, who has been farming on a county council holding for over 30 years, says that farming families are the bedrock of local communities, essential when it comes to sustainable food production and climate change mitigation.
Looking after 200 dairy cows at Clwch Dernog Bach, Llanddeusant, which includes 400 rented and 80 acres of owned land, William has always had a love for dairy farming. “I was brought up on a dairy farm and my father used to milk 6 cows. It inspired me and I started milking as soon as I could,” said William.
Starting with just 25 milking cows, William expanded the herd with the abolition of the milk quotas, but despite an increase in the numbers on his farm, he says it’s as sustainable as it can be. “I would consider our way of dairy farming very sustainable. We’ve kept this way of farming going for over 50 years. We have more cows now on the holding but it’s worth remembering that there used to be more farms around here, about 10 of them. We all had lower stocking numbers, with herds around the size of 10-20 cows. Those farms have been amalgamated into bigger units, so we have fewer farms but the same number of cows in the area, to the same acres.”
William is clear that the change in farming has had an impact on the local community. “Nobody can make a living milking 20 cows these days. We had to adapt but that has changed the community. The schools have closed as well. There used to be 4 local schools, now we have 1 big school. The smaller farms have gone, just as the smaller schools. It’s a bit sad really and just shows that farming families keep local communities alive, as well as our culture and the Welsh language,” he says.