Country Land and Business Association president David Fursdon has said agri-environment schemes are fine as a bolt-on to profitable farming, but cannot keep the agricultural industry viable.

He told a show press conference that farmers would be no more than glorified park-keepers if environmental payments ever became more than the “cream on the cake” of farm incomes.

The CLA was already looking ahead to the ending of current EU support in 2012 and attempting to convince politicians that profitable production would remain the key to sustainable land use.

He feared for the dairy industry and the risk of losing the production base.

Producers needed clear pointers to the future because time would pass in a flash.

Wales CLA president Ross Murray said the potential role of environmentally friendly energy crops needed further investigation.

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