There is reason for optimism for the long-term future of agriculture in Wales, even if 2012 is a year that farmers want to forget, according to NFU Cymru president Ed Bailey.
In a New Year message, Mr Bailey said collectively agriculture and the food and drink industry contribute approximately £3bn gross value added to the Welsh economy and nearly 2,000 extra people have joined the workforce on farms in Wales since 2009.
“I am also encouraged by the rise in student numbers at agricultural colleges throughout the country and the investment taking place in Wales into agricultural research facilities,” he said.
Mr Bailey said a key priority for the coming year was to ensure that the right CAP deal was struck for Welsh farmers.
“CAP continues to dominate the majority of my discussions with farmers and with our politicians, whether that is in Cardiff, Westminster or in Brussels. 2012 has seen slow progress on policy negotiations and the timetable remains very much dependent on a when a deal will be reached on the total EU budget for 2014-2020.
“Our key priorities remain to ensure that we maintain a budget for Wales that will support agricultural productivity and maintain farm incomes via Pillar 1 of the CAP. That the changeover from a historic to area based regime is managed and minimises as far as possible redistribution between farming businesses in Wales, and that pillar 1 greening measures do not impact on our productive capacity or inhibit our ability to respond to future market opportunities.”
The greatest disappointment for 2012 was the Welsh government’s handling of the bovine TB situation, he said.
“The decision made by Welsh Government in March to follow an unproven vaccination policy over a proven science led eradication strategy was, to me, a political decision, rather than a scientific one. Unfortunately an increasing number of Welsh farmers and their families are suffering as a consequence of this decision.”
Farm incomes rise 15% in Wales