Robots, vertical farming and virtual fencing could soon be the farming of the future according to the Future of Food 2040 report produced by the NFU.

Dr Andrea Graham, NFU head of policy services and author of the report, used her presentation at the recent Pembrokeshire county conference, to delve into the report’s findings and give farmers an insight into what their businesses could look like in 2040.

Dr Graham said: “With a new domestic agricultural policy on the horizon and the next climate change summit being hosted by the UK this year, it’s time for the industry to look forward and be optimistic about the part that British farmers can play in producing safe, quality, affordable food, for a growing population, in a sustainable way.

“An increase in the global population and the need to mitigate climate change will provide opportunities for British food and farming to increase productivity and reduce its impact on the environment through championing our climate friendly food.”

Dr Graham explained how the country will evolve socially, technologically and environmentally. The report delves into how changing trends will impact food production; what we’ll be eating, how we’ll be buying it as well as how food will be produced.

Dr Graham said: “A real focal point in the future will be a growing demand for transparency from consumers, aided by new technologies, such as blockchain.

"We shouldn’t be afraid of that desire for greater transparency because British farmers have a great story to tell with regards to our high welfare, food safety and environmental standards, but it does mean we will have to stand up to that increased scrutiny.

“2040 also marks the year that the NFU aims to reach its ambition of net zero greenhouse gas emissions across agriculture, and increasing productivity and efficiency through innovation is going to be key to achieving this goal.

"While 20 years may seem a long way away, planning for that future must start now.”

Dr Graham concluded: “There are many possibilities for the future of farming, but one thing is certain; food is a fundamental part of life and British farmers will continue to put the public goods – including the provision of safe, quality and affordable home-grown food – at the heart of all they do.”

NFU Cymru deputy president, Aled Jones, also addressed the meeting and spoke about the work of the union over the past year.

This included water quality, bovine TB, beef prices, tackling the heightened coverage of animal rights activists and the criticism that the farming industry is attracting from certain areas of the media.

Mr Jones also agreed that farming in this country is going to see a number of changes in the next 20 years.

He said: “We have a clear ambition to be the most climate friendly country in the world producing food to the highest environmental standards. We need to stand together on this, every business will benefit from productivity, carbon sequestration and renewables. Let’s position ourselves in a place where we are number one.”

NFU Cymru thanked HSBC UK for sponsoring all 11 of the union’s county conferences.