NFU Cymru has presented its vision for the Wales Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 to members of the National Assembly for Wales in an event held in Cardiff Bay. Those present at the event, sponsored by Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesman, were informed by NFU Cymru President, Stephen James, how the Rural Development Plan is a key enabler of NFU Cymru’s vision for a productive, profitable and progressive Welsh agricultural industry which can contribute increasingly to economic growth in Wales with the farming industry at the heart of thriving rural communities. Speaking at the event, Stephen James said, “NFU Cymru’s aim is to establish the background conditions in which farm businesses can be profitable and develop. Without profitability our shared goal of sustainability – in economic, environmental, social and cultural terms cannot be realised.“The Rural Development Plan will provide an estimated £953m of support to the rural economy in Wales during the period 2015-2020. This significant investment must have a transformational and lasting impact on our industry. The components identified in the proposals will all have a role to play in delivering our vision and the budget allocations to each component will be critical to success.” NFU Cymru members agreed that the primary driver for change will be the support available under the investments measure. This should deliver a sustained period of investment in the latest technologies, equipment and facilities on farm. A number of themes emerged during the consultation including animal health and welfare, soil protection, energy, water efficiency and resource management. Maintaining farming in the uplands and on hill grazings was also considered as vital, however, the support proposed under area-based measures, via the Glastir scheme, is based on income foregone calculations and must be supported by the introduction of a dedicated ANC scheme.Stephen James concluded, “Welsh agriculture is ready to step up to the challenge and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. To do this effectively we need viable, profitable enterprises and the confidence to invest. We need a Welsh Government that is committed to Welsh agriculture, a government that puts in place a policy framework that allows farmers to optimise productivity and simultaneously deliver ecosystem services.”NFU Cymru’s Vision for the Wales RDP is the culmination of extensive consultation with Union members at branch, county and board level and has been supported by the establishment of an RDP Task & Finish Group. The Vision will form part of NFU Cymru’s comprehensive response to the RDP consultation which closes on 14 April 2014.