As this is my last article before Christmas, I would like to start by wishing you all a very merry festive season.

Now the nights are long, it is magical to see Christmas lights shining in Llanidloes and other towns and on houses in the countryside. Although I am the chair of Montgomeryshire, I live only 50 meters from Radnorshire. The Christmas trees of Pant y Dwr, St Harmon and Rhayader are fabulous.

Although snow causes extra work for farmers it is a treat to have a white Christmas. At our Montgomeryshire County Conference recently, we had a talk about farming in Saskatchewan in Canada, where there is snow on the ground all winter and temperatures can fall to -40oC. John and Daphne Furneaux, from Gower, have a son James, who has moved to this area of Canada to live and work on a farm. We heard that the farm is 13,000, acres made up of 640 acre blocks, plus a further 17,000 acres harvested on contract. One field is 1,900 acres so you combine for two miles in one direction.

Spring crops of durum wheat and canola are grown. To manage this immense acreage there are giant machines; the drill is 84ft wide, the sprayer has a 120ft boom and the combine harvester has a 46ft header. All machines are satellite controlled and communicate with the John Deere dealership automatically. At harvest, the chaser trailer carries 50 tonnes and loads into lorries with a capacity of 43 tonnes. The grains are then stored on the farm in numerous bins then transported to ‘elevators’ on the railway, to be loaded onto individual trucks carrying 100 tonnes. A train can be 7,000ft long pulled by six engines.

The land is flat with trees only around farm buildings. Straight wide roads intersect the blocks, and long distances are travelled to civilisation. The farms have become very large for efficiency so there are abandoned homesteads dotted around the countryside. The crops grown are mainly GM (genetically modified) and there is minimum paperwork. The snow provides most of the water for the crops as it is dry in summer.

This contrasts starkly with Wales where there is a thriving farming community, the roads are far from straight and there are numerous pretty little towns. The countryside is green and full of different features and habitats, and draws thousands of tourists every year. The farming is highly regulated and the weather is unpredictable. I know where I would rather farm.