Welsh farmers have been warned that a failure to protect wildlife and natural resources would have a major damaging effect on their ability to produce food.

Wales’ farm minister Alun Davies insisted environmental and economic actions must go hand in hand. Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Farmers’ Union of Wales in Aberystwyth on 17 June, Mr Davies rejected any suggestion that economic growth and environment sustainability were irreconcilable.

“Green growth not only protects our environment but also drives wealth creation. If we are to create green growth and a truly sustainable, thriving and prosperous economy in Wales, environmental actions have to go hand in hand with economic ones,” he told the conference. The minister called for an end to debate on whether food production or environmental outcomes should have priority. “The two are inextricably linked and we simply must have both,” he said.

“Indeed, if we do not look after the trees and the bees and our rivers – our natural resources – then the result will be a major, long-term detrimental impact on food production.”

He called on farmers to rise to environmental challenges.

On CAP reform, Mr Davies confirmed that he would make an announcement on the implications for Wales ahead of next month’s Royal Welsh Show.

“These next seven years will provide the industry with an opportunity that no other parts of the economy will have – guaranteed and predicable public support for a definite period. This time must not be wasted. It must be used to put individual farm businesses on a firm footing,” he said.