Nature needs a helping hand
Nature cannot be trusted to protect landscapes and habitats so the positive intervention of farmers is essential, insists Countryside Council of Wales chief executive Paul Loveluck.
And agri-environment schemes should encourage many of the young people now entering the industry to get involved, he told a conference organised by Wales Young Farmers Clubs.
The common theme from the speakers was that younger farmers were ideally placed to improve the image of farming and its products, because they did not have deeply ingrained views on production methods, and had no direct experience of past conflicts between farming and conservationists.
And their adaptability should make them receptive to market pressures on traceability and product quality specifications.
"In future a thriving industry will depend on marketing products that are perceived as high quality and safe, from farms where good animal welfare and environmentally sensitive methods are assured," said Arwyn Davies, Wales YFCs chief executive.
"We need our consumers and the general public on our side. Many of the groups and agencies that can help us achieve this are here today, but a lot of self-help is required."
Drew Smith, managing director of Food by Design, urged farmers to talk more with other sectors of the food industry. They should not continue to see themselves as producers of primary commodities but as links in the food chain, and should care about what happened beyond the farm gate. They should aim to market the best.
Tom Tudor, chairman of Welsh Lamb Beef Promotion agreed, and called on more producers to accept the twin principles of farm and quality assurance.