Welsh farmers have been urged to give their opinions on a draft strategy for the country’s future farming, food and environment policies.

The Welsh assembly government‘s ‘Building a Secure Future’ strategy has been drawn up in a bid to achieve “a more profitable future” for farming and sustain farming families.

But it said it wanted to do this while safeguarding the environment, mitigating climate change and maintaining the vitality and prosperity of rural communities.

The 48 page draft sets out the issues and challenges that must be addressed to sustain the industry and the environment.

It includes details of how policy makers responded to two previous Welsh assembly strategy reports and the current views of key stakeholders who sit on a special group established by assembly rural affairs minister, Elin Jones.

Global challenges

It says Wales had a major opportunity to position itself in worldwide markets as a producer of healthy, top-quality meat and dairy products, using environmentally-friendly grass-based systems.

It also suggests Welsh farmers were well-placed to respond to global challenges and growing demand for healthy eating and premium products.

However, it warns farmers would need to be technically efficient to be profitable, and that they also needed stronger connections to the market.

“Farmers and processors have to work together if the Welsh food sector is to succeed in competitive markets,” the report says.

“Processors and producers must commit to securing the supply base in terms of volume, quality and fair pricing.”

Supporting young entrants

The strategy says the assembly’s Farming Connect initiative would encourage production and marketing co-operatives, provide tailor-made training services for co-op managers and ensure farmers receive the latest technical information.

There would be a separate public consultation on proposals to support young entrants into farming and the assembly would work with colleges to ensure vocational and skills training properly equip young people.

Launching the draft strategy, Ms Jones said that food production remained vitally important, but land managers farmers also played a key role in safeguarding the countryside.

“Wales has the opportunity to embrace a more sustainable approach to land management and take account of the impact of climate change,” she said.

Ms Jones asked the industry to consider three key proposals in the draft (see below) during the consultation period, which ends on September 8.

“We must consider how we strengthen and secure our food industry to ensure we enhance our reputation for quality,” she said.

See the ‘Building a Secure Future’ strategy.

Proposals

  • Strengthening connections to the market
  • Sustainable land management
  • Innovation and skills training