Showing posts from November, 2016

Harnessing the algorithm

This column appeared in the Llanelli Herald on 25th November 2016 Farming is not a subject that traditionally excites people much. But work being done by Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire could have far-reaching results that benefit us all. I drew on the work being done by the college in a debate I arranged in the Assembly this week. The college are at the forefront of what’s known as ‘Precision Agriculture’. At their farm at Gelli Aur near Llandeilo they are using satellite imagery to increase milk production. By measuring the weekly growth in grass on their farm they calculate exactly how much feed the cattle need and decide which fields to put the cows in via a smartphone app. It is a rapidly developing area where farmers gather a wealth of real-time information -  water and nitrogen levels, air quality, disease - data which isn’t just specific to each farm or acre, but to each square inch of our farmland. At a time when we’re facing a future of food and wat

The first six months

This column appeared in the Llanelli Herald on November 18th 2016 It takes a while to adjust to any new role. Six months into being an Assembly Member I must confess that while there are elements that fire my enthusiasm, there are elements that make me tear my hair out. The most satisfying part is representing the area where I was born and raised in our National Assembly: It’s a huge privilege, and a huge challenge too.                 I’ve made a good start on the things I promised to do, like an economic strategy for Llanelli and creating a litter taskforce to clean up our streets. I’ve also spoken up on issues in the Assembly, challenging traditional thinking. I set out to be a fresh voice for Llanelli, and I hope my first six months has shown that I’m not afraid to speak out on the issues I care about. Of course, there’s a balance to be struck between reflecting public feeling and being true to your principles. For me politics is about making an argument about

It’s not only Nissan that needs a deal

Published in Llanelli Herald on 11th November 2016 Though the fate of our steelworks have disappeared from the headlines the crisis facing the industry is still very real. The underlying challenges steel manufacturing in the UK remain, in fact the uncertainty about what happens to our economy after we’ve pulled out of the EU has added some extra challenges in for good measure. Not that you’ll hear the UK Government talk much about how it can help salvage our steel industry. They have taken action to protect the car industry - which remains important to us locally. Ministers have given guarantees to Nissan in order to secure the future of the huge factory in Sunderland that if there are barriers to trade with Europe after we’ve pulled out the EU the UK Government will compensate the Japanese company. It may well prove to be a very expensive promise. Compensating the foreign owned firm for any taxes that are put on car exports could well amount to hundreds of mill