NFU Cymru president Aled Jones has forecast that 2024 will define farming in Wales for a generation or more in his New Year message.

“2024 will be a momentous year for Welsh agriculture, with decisions set to be made that will define how we farm in Wales for a generation or more," he said.

“The last 12 months have seen a significant legislative milestone with the Agriculture (Wales) Act becoming an act of Senedd Cymru. While the passing of this historic piece of legislation has yet to impact on a farm level, it sets the framework that allows Wales, for the first time in history, to create its own agricultural policy.

"This will take the form of the new Sustainable Farming Scheme and 2024 will see Welsh Government making final policy and budgetary decisions based on the outcome of its current consultation– decisions that WILL be keenly felt at the farm gate by the nation’s farmers from 2025.

“The consultation is underway and NFU Cymru is in the process of engaging with its members over the proposals before the 7th March deadline.

"One key area of focus for the union is the need for a long-term stability mechanism to underpin the production of safe, high quality and affordable food in Wales. Domestic and global events over the past three years have sadly reminded us of the fragile nature of global food supply chains and the importance of domestic agricultural policies that place a priority on food production.

He added that we must not forget the role that farming businesses play within our rural communities– for every £1 invested in the current Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) there is a £9 return for the Welsh economy.

"Welsh Government must provide certainty to Welsh farming businesses by committing that future schemes give substantive support to farming businesses not just through the transition period, but in the longer term, to ensure that the Sustainable Farming Scheme can deliver at least the same level of stability for farm businesses, the supply chain and our rural communities."

He also addressed one of the most debated areas of the plans concerning the minimum 10% tree cover scheme rule.

He welcomed the Welsh Government’s draft budget statement of 19th December confirming that the BPS would be maintained at current funding levels for 2024. but expressed concern that the cuts to the overall Rural Affairs budget would have implications.

He added: "A recent YouGov poll commissioned by NFU Cymru has shone a light on the high levels of public support for farmers in Wales. The consumer survey revealed that 82% of people in Wales support Welsh Government providing financial support to farmers to produce food.

"When taking into account Welsh Government’s priorities, 72% said that supporting Welsh farmers was a good use of public spending. Public attitudes towards public procurement and self-sufficiency were also very favourable for Welsh farming. It is fantastic to know that we have such high levels of support from the public and this must be taken into account by government.

“NFU Cymru is ambitious for the future of Welsh farming and rural Wales, we are proud to be the cornerstone of a food and farming sector worth over £8 billion and a food and drink supply chain that employs over a quarter of a million people in Wales, with more than 50,000 employed directly on farm.

“I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2024. Blwyddyn Newydd dda.”