NFU Cymru is to carry out an in-depth consultation of its members for their views on what future Welsh farming policy should look like outside the EU.
The consultation was launched at an extraordinary meeting of the union’s governing Welsh Council, commodity boards and the next generation policy group in Builth Wells this week.
Union president, Stephen James, said the governments in Cardiff and Westminster must recognise the economic importance of the farming sector.
“Agriculture plays a vital role in Wales’ economy, with nearly 60,000 people employed either full time or part time on holdings in Wales with agriculture’s gross output estimated at nearly £1.5bn,” he said.
“Farming is the cornerstone of the £6bn Welsh food supply chain which employs around 18 per cent of the Welsh workforce and is the axis around which rural communities thrive.
“We have agreed the principles of what we believe a domestic farming policy should look like and these will now form the basis of the biggest farming consultation in Wales for a generation.
“We will be asking the industry to put forward the detail that is needed to underpin these principles.
“Currently there are lots of uncertainties for farming – trade agreements, financial support and legislation are all up in the air – but we are committed to providing the industry with leadership.
“I urge all NFU Cymru members to get involved in this consultation over the coming months and that non-members should join the union to ensure their voice is heard.”
Among the union’s key priorities is the need to secure the best possible access to European markets which will continue to be the main export market for the Welsh food and drink industry and secure trade agreements with countries outside the EU on the most favourable terms possible.
New trade agreements must not open the home market to imports that are not produced to the same world leading standards and a domestic agricultural policy must be competitive with farmers in the EU.
The regulatory landscape in Wales must also be overhauled and voluntary approaches adopted wherever possible, with regulation considered as a last resort.