Welsh farmers' core role of food producers 'must be protected'

Any future government policy 'must secure' the supply of safe and affordable food, as well as stable incomes for farmers
Any future government policy 'must secure' the supply of safe and affordable food, as well as stable incomes for farmers

Welsh farming can successfully tackle environmental issues only if government policies protect farmers' core role as food producers, NFU Cymru says.

Future policies will need to be 'completely aligned' if the farming industry is to realise its ambitions for sustainable growth, the union will say at its annual conference today.

The Welsh government's rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, has been urged to ensure farmers' 'important core role', that of food producers, is safeguarded.

It comes as farming businesses in the country continue to highlight their concerns over certain groups and media outlets looking to blame the industry's role in climate change.

NFU Cymru President John Davies says these groups and high-profile individuals have 'sought to knock' farmers.

“Welsh farmers are blessed with the skills and natural resources to meet challenges and answer the sector’s critics, all while producing high quality, safe, affordable food and simultaneously lowering emissions.

“Let me be clear that what they portray is far removed from reality. We are blessed with the natural resources to produce quality protein in the form of great tasting PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef, alongside dairy products rich in calcium.

“Our poultry, arable and horticulture sectors play a smaller, but equally important role, in ensuring that Welsh farming makes an unparalleled economic, environment and cultural contribution to Wales.”

He says the farming industry is currently aspiring to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions for agriculture by 2040.

“This will require a portfolio of policies all working to facilitate making our farming systems more productive and efficient alongside enhancing carbon storage in our farmed environment and boosting renewable energy to avoid emissions from fossil fuels.”

Mr Davies says, however, that any future government policy must secure the supply of safe and affordable food, as well as stable incomes for farmers.

“This can be achieved through a policy built around our three cornerstones of the environment, productivity and stability. A policy that ensures that future support is targeted at the active food producing farming business.”

The conference, which comes a week after the UK’s Brexit deadline was once again extended, will also see Mr Davies reiterate NFU Cymru’s opposition to a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome.

Mr Davies adds: “Whilst the Brexit timetable may have changed the options remain the same. Will we leave with a deal, ‘no deal’, or will there be no Brexit at all?

“I want to be absolutely clear that at NFU Cymru we maintain that if we are to leave the EU then it must be in an orderly fashion securing continued free and frictionless trade to our most important export markets in the EU.”

The annual NFU Cymru Conference takes place in Llandrindod Wells today (7 November).