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NFU Cymru Conference Highlights Threats & Opportunities for Wales

The recent NFU Cymru Conference had a diverse range of speakers.  Speakers ranged from Alan Davies, Assembly Member and Minister for the Natural Resources and Food, Patrick Begg of National Trust and two inspirational young farmers, being William Lawrence from Pembrokeshire and Jake Freeman, Freestone Farms Manager for Overbury Farms.

Summarising the main message from the Conference Tony Rimmer, Director of Rostons, Chartered Surveyors and Agricultural Valuers, felt that overall the next 10 years are going to see significant change in the hills and valleys of Wales.

It is clear the Minister, as part of his consultation on the CAP Reform, is looking to see the funds available used to benefit all within the rural economy as much as possible, not only just farmers but the wider community and to ensure that we have a vibrant and profitable agricultural industry.  It is likely that this will mean that more of the subsidy will move up the hill to support those less economic farming systems which operate in areas that are naturally challenged as well as the direct payments from Pillar 1 moving in this direction.  More of the Pillar 2 funding will find its way into the wider economy, not just to farmers.

Whilst many traditional farmers and NFU members are undoubtedly concerned about this as any cuts in farming incomes will cause casualties, the younger generation feel there will be huge opportunities for agriculture due to the expanding world population and the need to provide food.

The younger generation are prone to embrace technology, science and business management skills to ensure a profitable farming business and indeed whilst past generations may have viewed farming as a way of life, they tend to support the view that William and Jake has which was not only farm to live, but they live to farm.

Conversely the National Trust, who are major landowners, had a different take on concerns for the future and Patrick Begg, who is Rural Enterprise Director for the National Trust, felt that the management and conservation of our National Resources is going to be key to the future.  He felt we should not be mining our natural resources, but more harvesting them in a sustainable way and he sighted many examples of where the National trust are doing this with either hydropower, local schemes supporting their farmer, tenants and diversification.

Reviewing his conclusions from the conference, Tony felt that we potentially could see much change over the next 10 years, particularly with an ageing farming population and with a vibrant next generation who are keen to embrace modern technologies and the increased public interest in food and the countryside, that there could be great opportunities.  He would urge all farming businesses to take a step back and review what they are doing and see if they are set up for the changes that are likely to take place and those with the foresight will ensure that their business is adept and readily able to change in what is going to be an ever changing environment, caused as a result of the change to the subsidy regime. 

For further information contact the Rostons office on 01829 773000