Welsh farm income figures show just how exposed the industry is to volatility and factors outside its control.
Welsh Government figures for farm incomes in Wales for the year to March 2019 showed average farm income was expected to decrease by 15 per cent on the year to £29,500.
Dairy farm incomes were expected to drop to the level last seen in 2014-2015 as a result of a fall in milk price, dropping to £64,500 per farm.
Lowland cattle and sheep farms were also expecting a significant drop of 29 per cent to £17,000, with incomes for cattle and sheep farms in less favoured areas predicted to drop 9 per cent to £24,500.
NFU Cymru said it highlighted why future government policy must contain measures to help farmers manage volatility.
NFU Cymru president John Davies added 2018 had been challenging due to the long, wet winter followed by drought.
“The decrease in income is due, in part, to pressure on farmgate prices, particularly in the dairy sector, but mainly as a result of the significant additional input costs, particularly feed, to help get through an extremely challenging year weather wise,” he said.
Mr Davies added the timely delivery of the Basic Payment Scheme and the introduction of an ‘opt in’ loan by Rural Payment Wales had been crucial to helping businesses manage their cashflow.
He said the figures reinforced the need for future policy to include a volatility and stability component, alongside public goods and productivity measures to help farmers manage and mitigate volatility.
He added Welsh farmers needed stability as an integral part of the success of the Welsh food and drink industry, delivering on the environment and the viability of rural communities.
“It is only from a position of financial stability farming businesses can have the confidence and are able to invest in new technology and productivity measures,” said Mr Davies.
He added there was also the threat of a no-deal Brexit hanging over the industry which would be ‘incredibly damaging’ to Welsh farming.