Welsh farmers are looking forward to 2022 with mixed feelings after a bruising year of uncertainty over the effect of free trade deals and changes in support payments.

Not to mention a continuing Covid pandemic and a continuing bovine TB crisis.

The security of a full Basic Scheme Payment until 2023 allows some financial stability, but the prospect of tougher bovine TB cattle controls and curbs on compensation could make the coming year a challenging one for some farming sectors.

NFU Cymru president John Davies is generally upbeat for the prospects for Welsh farming in 2022.

“The stability of the BPS in these volatile times and the continuation of Glastir payments for two years is very welcome,’’ he says.

Mr Davies is also very positive that Welsh farmers will deliver on environmental commitments without harming their businesses.

As chairman of a group exploring how different technologies and scientific developments can help farmers reduce emissions, he says he has a “glass half full’’ outlook for Welsh farming going forward.

“There are developments that will allow incremental gains, to reduce emissions by a few percentage points, but there are also some really big gains to come, such as developments in the feed additive sector that could reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent or research around the use of seaweed as a fertiliser and feed,’’ he says.

On bovine TB, the union will challenge the Welsh Government on some of the proposals set out in its latest consultation, notably a plan to introduce a table valuation system that would see compensation payouts cut for many, especially pedigree herds with high value animals.

Mr Davies acknowledges that some additional controls mooted in the consultation may be necessary to prevent TB from spreading in areas with historically low levels of infection but he fears that convincing the government of the need to consider the science on the issue of wildlife controls would continue to be “an uphill struggle’’.

The challenge to the Welsh Government’s decision to roll out new regulations controlling agricultural pollution across Wales is a key focus for the industry going into 2022.

Farming unions recently gave oral evidence to the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Senedd Committee for the ongoing review of those regulations.

Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts says to maintain the current pan-Wales approach would unfairly penalise farmers since only 16.7 per cent of the total number of water pollution incidents from 2016 to 2020 were related to agriculture.

“The FUW strongly believes the committee should reconsider the recommendation made by NRW to increase the area designated as NVZ from 2.4 per cent to 8 per cent to target areas where agricultural pollution occurs, alongside the report produced by the Wales Land Management Forum Sub-Group on agricultural pollution which set out 45 recommendations on how to tackle agricultural water pollution in Wales,’’ says Mr Roberts.

“It is difficult to predict what the committee will recommend in its final report to the Welsh Government but at least such recommendations will now be considered by both the Labour and Plaid Cymru parties in light of the recent co-operation agreement.’’

He hopes that as a minimum that the derogation to increase the maximum whole farm nitrogen application limit from 170kg per hectare to 250kg for farm holdings which are at least 80 per cent grassland will be re-introduced, and that there will be a shift away from the 'farming by calendar' approach to application.

Mr Roberts says the majority of Senedd Members with rural constituencies recognise the industry’s concerns and are against the current approach.

However the majority of Labour Senedd Members are located in urban areas. “There are therefore conflicts of interest when it comes to agricultural and rural affairs matters,’’ he suggests.