Flagship agricultural events like the Royal Welsh Winter Fair underline the need for a collaborative approach to policy to ensure rural businesses and communities can thrive in the future, according to NFU Cymru.

Speaking as the Welsh agricultural community united for the first time in almost two years at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair today (Monday, November 28), NFU Cymru president John Davies says that there is an onus on all those responsible for the development of Welsh agricultural and rural policy to protect and enhance the unparalleled contribution made by the sector to larger society.

Mr Davies said: “Everyone in the Welsh agricultural sector is delighted that the Royal Welsh Winter Fair has been able to go ahead today. While the event is globally known as a shop window for the finest farmers and their livestock anywhere in the world, the Winter Fair also plays an important role in acting as a meeting place for the industry.

"After the constraints and isolation imposed by the coronavirus pandemic for such a long time, it is a relief that an easing of restrictions has allowed farmers, rural businesses, Wales YFC, the farming charities and the wider supply chain to again be able to meet up and engage at this event.

“The Royal Welsh Winter Fair is a fine example of the unparalleled contribution that Welsh farmers make to the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of Wales. I strongly believe that all of us connected with policy development in Wales have a responsibility to ensure that we protect farming’s ability to continue delivering multiple benefits for the people and communities of Wales.

“Working with partners across the Welsh food and farming industry, NFU Cymru has ambitious plans for the sustainable growth of our sector. Indeed, the Winter Fair provides the evidence that Wales is perfectly positioned to be a world leader in climate friendly food production in a landscape that provides habitats for our nature to thrive. NFU Cymru is committed to working with Welsh Government and other partners to ensure the correct policy conditions can enable the Welsh food and farming sector to realise its potential.

“The introduction of Agriculture (Wales) Bill to the Senedd in the first half of 2022 will be a watershed moment for our industry, providing the framework for a future agricultural policy and support schemes in the future. We have a once in a generation opportunity to design, build and implement a comprehensive ‘farm to fork’ food and farming policy that is ‘made in Wales’ and can deliver sustainable growth of the food and farming sector – Wales’ biggest employer.

“The coronavirus pandemic has tested the resilience of many supply chains and reaffirmed the importance of short supply chains and the need for a strong domestic production base. It is a reminder to us all of the fundamental importance of safe, high quality, nutritious and affordable food for all in society.

“NFU Cymru has made it clear in its Net Zero 2040 Vision that we can meet net zero greenhouse gas emissions for agriculture at the same time as maintaining and enhancing our capacity to feed consumers with high quality, affordable Welsh food. Our collective ambition to reach net zero must not be achieved at the expense of domestic food production and the vitality of our rural areas.”