FORMER British prime minister Winston Churchill once described success as the “ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

Perhaps the events of 2015 were more of a series of challenges than failures for Welsh farming but it did its best to suck the enthusiasm out of farmers.

Crippling farmgate prices across all sectors and unprecedented levels of winter rainfall all but broke the spirit of the most committed optimist. One livestock farmer I spoke to last week recorded 19 inches of rain on his south Wales farm in December alone. A normally upbeat individual, he was really fed up.

If optimism increases our odds of living longer and healthier, the last 12 months don’t bode well for Welsh farmers. Confidence is critical because it influences investment and production intentions.

Would farmers be better off believing that they can surmount any challenge life throws their way?

Optimism does need to be tied to realism. A recent NFU confidence survey shows that in the past two years twice as many farmers have seen their profits declining, with 49 per cent of respondents reporting declining profits. Some seven per cent think their business may not survive – the highest figure in any year so far.

These figures become more worrying in the dairy sector where almost 20 per cent of dairy respondents declared that their business may not make it through 2016, up from three per cent on the previous year.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Farmers across the industry believe the next three years will be more positive.

The research shows that farmers have a generally optimistic outlook on their medium-term prospects.

There are going to be over 9 billion people in the world by 2050, needing 50 per cent more food and water than today. The food produced on Welsh farms will help meet this demand.

But farmers must first get through this difficult winter period and the Welsh Government must do its bit by making every effort to speed up delivery of Basic Payment Scheme payments. Farmers are relying on this money to pay their bills. It is rightly theirs and it should be in their bank accounts by now.