A GWENT farm manager is swapping the green pastures of Usk for the rolling plains of the Wild West.

Bryn Hughes will visit the American cowboys in four states to bring tips and ideas on the beef industry back to Wales.

The 34-year old manager of College Farm at Usk Campus of Univ-ersity of Wales, New-port, won a scholarship to travel to the States.

He will spend a month touring Iowa, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Montana. When he gets back, he will present his findings to Welsh farming unions and grassland societies.

He said: "It's an opportunity to help the Welsh industry. I'll be looking how the US beef industry achieves quality and consistency in its beef products at all stages of production.

"I will be looking at calf rearers and producers in the West of the US, how they serve the feedlots in the Midwest and how the industry meets the demands of its consumers."

Mr Hughes was one of two winners of the Farming Connect Sheep and Beef Development Programme Scholarship. Meat Promotion Wales announced the winners, who can pick any country to visit for up to six weeks.

He said: "I have always been interested in beef production in the USA and the scholarship has provided me with the ideal opportunity to go and study in the States.

"I am hoping to gain a great deal, learning why the beef industry in the US is so successful and what drives this success."

College Farm is a mixed use 224 hectare farm run on a commercial basis but used as a teaching resource. It has a 160-strong dairy herd, 120 bull beef animals, 50 beef heifers and 400 sheep.

Prys Morgan, industry development manager at Meat Promotion Wales, said: "The scholarships are an essential part of our remit to encourage best practice, competitiveness and improve our industry.

"This year's scholars are people who are already working hard in the farming industry and I'm sure they will be able to further contribute on their return."

The other winner this year is Nigel Scollan, principal research scientist at the Institute of Grassland and Envir-onmental Research at Aberystwyth. He will be going to study the beef industry in Australia.