In his New Year message, NFU Cymru president, Stephen James, says he remains optimistic that with the right backing the industry can capitalise on the opportunities for food produced to the highest animal welfare, environmental and quality standards.
He also takes the Welsh Government to task for its lack of vision and blinkered approach to TB eradication.
“We have sought to actively engage with the Welsh Government at all levels on the design and implementation of the Wales Rural Development Programme and believe the £1 billion programme can be a key lever in helping improve the industry’s competitiveness and profitability,” according to Mr James.
“But this can only be achieved by ensuring that RDP schemes are easily accessible to farmers, have high participation levels and crucially that alongside training and knowledge transfer activities, investment support is delivered at farm level.
“We remain unconvinced that Welsh Government shares our vision. Its focus is too much on raising awareness and delivering support to the few rather than to the many.
“The transformational change can only be achieved if the RDP delivers real and practical support to thousands of Welsh farmers.
“It needs to move away from what appears to be a presumption in favour of regulation. Too often Government policy is being decided without robust evidence and without proper analysis of the economic impact of the proposed changes to the industry.
“The threat of changes to Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil (SSAFO) regulations, oil storage rules and new NVZ designations hanging over the industry as we enter 2016 are indicative of this appetite to over-regulate.”
On bovine TB Mr James says the most recent statistics show a 25 per cent increase in the number of cattle slaughtered and a 9 per cent increase in the number of new herd incidents.
“TB remains arguably the greatest threat to our cattle herd and no eradication plan is worth the paper it is written on without an acceptance that the disease must be eradicated from wildlife as well as from cattle,” he added.
“Politicians can no longer hide behind badger vaccination as their approach to dealing with the wildlife reservoir and they must now clearly set out their plan for effectively dealing with the issue in wildlife.
“On May 5 Wales will go to the polls for what we all expect to be a keenly fought election and an opportunity to influence the future direction of agricultural policy.
“The market place remains challenging with milk, lamb and cereal prices impacted by a range of global factors that are beyond our control.
“NFU Cymru has and will continue to meet retailers, food service providers and public procurers to press for a clear commitment to supporting the industry, while seeking to ensure our products clearly labelled within a fair and transparent supply chain.”