Barry Alston reports from this week’s Farmers Union of Wales annual meeting in Aberystwyth.
Whatever emerges from Brexit the Welsh Government will be standing firm behind Welsh farmers, according to First Minister Carwyn Jones.
He told the annual meeting that although he was stepping down from the role in the autumn there would be no change in the devolved authority’s commitment to ensuring a sound and profitable future for the farming industry.
“Farming in Wales is the envy of many others across the UK but we still do not know what the shape of agriculture will be post-Brexit,” he said.
“Challenges and opportunities lie ahead and we have to make sure there is a correct outcome for both the industry and the Welsh economy.
“Farming is the backbone of rural Wales. In fact, there cannot be a rural Wales without farmers. That importance goes far beyond the language and the culture.
“As a nation we must ensure that farming continues to receive the support it warrants not only for the present but for the longer term.
“We know what we want for farming and above all we must have a customs union that ensures we can continue to sell our produce in the markets on our doorstep that are most important to us.
“That is a priority for which we still do not have an answer and the uncertainties continue. Another worry is that we could be excluded from some European markets on animal health grounds, bovine TB in particular.”
Mr Jones said that consumer patterns could well change and a degree of flexibility would be needed to make sure the industry could adapt to those changes. The opportunity to move away from existing support mechanisms could assist in that.
“This time last year farming’s devolved role was going to be transferred back to Westminster – something we were just not prepared to tolerate and we have negotiated the right of the Welsh Government to determine what happens within Welsh farming.
“There will be a new funding arrangement – one that we make sure is fair to everyone and whatever replaces the current EU-based support system must reflect current regional spending,” he added.
“Above all, the land must be managed by those who know it best because we need a resilient and prosperous agricultural sector in Wales.
“Things may have to be done differently but I promise you that the Welsh Government will be fighting hard for a fair allocation of funding beyond 2022.”
He said a consultation document would be published in July detailing the modelling results of possible future support schemes.