A strategy setting out a “clear vision of Welsh farming at the heart ofa sustainable countryside and profitable rural economy” has beenlaunched by the Welsh Assembly Government.
The strategy has been developed through an extensive consultation process and has been drawn up in partnership with key stakeholders.
It has been divided up into chapters that also form the key aims of the strategy, namely: connecting to the marketplace; producing sustainably and profitably; safeguarding animal health and welfare, plant health and food safety; sustaining our countryside; and encouraging innovation.
It outlines the Welsh Assembly Government’s rural affairs polocy through to 2020.
Elin Jones, minister of rural affairs, said the strategy was overarching and was designed to ensure the farming industry in the principality was well placed to meet future challenges and opportunities.
In a statement, he said: “This strategy sets out a clear vision of Welsh farming at the heart of a sustainable countryside and profitable rural economy, able to meet future challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented in an increasingly globalised economy.
“The strategy has been developed following a public consultation and with the aid of a stakeholder group. The members of the stakeholder group were deliberately selected from across a wide range of specialisms, as the needs of farming, food and the land-based production industries cannot be addressed in isolation. I am grateful to the members of the group for their hard work and contribution to this strategy.
“The industry faces significant challenges in the future, including the volatility of food supply and demand and the difficulty of competing in markets operating at world prices. Reduced protection from trade barriers and declining CAP support will expose the industry’s vulnerability and require adaptation and change.”
And he added: “To safeguard animal and plant health and animal welfare, actions will tackle the threat of exotic diseases, such as bluetongue and swine fever, while the fight against endemic diseases, such as bovine TB, is being continually advanced.
“Innovation is the life blood of any industry and the strategy encourages innovation through targeted research and effective knowledge transfer to the industry.”
The statement continued: “It is my firm belief that the future for the farming economy, countryside and communities of rural Wales can be both profitable and sustainable. But, ultimately, it for the thousands of small to medium-sized business, that this strategy aims to support, to make the choices they feel best serve their commercial and individual interests.
The sustainability and profitability of the family farm is at the centre of this strategy.”