FARMERS are largely placid individuals. The stereotype is that of the whingeing farmer but their reaction to economic woes is mostly to knuckle down and get on with what needs doing.

The last 12 months have been particularly challenging for farming. Prices are down across all sectors. Average dairy farm incomes are predicted to almost halve this year, while arable incomes are forecast to fall by almost a quarter.

Pig producers are generating their lowest income for six years and the average lamb price is 20 per cent down on 2014 prices.

To add to income woes, there is the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) system in Wales. Some farmers are still waiting for their payment and there are many questions about the fairness of the scheme itself.

Welsh farmers are much more dependent on EU funding than other UK nations so next month’s EU referendum adds to industry uncertainty. Thanks to the Common Agricultural Policy farmers have a big stake in the result.

There is no quick fix solution to the current challenges in the Welsh farming sector. While the short-term focus is on income and cash flow, there are longer-term issues around better management of risk and market volatility. Everyone has a role to play in achieving that and it is only when all those involved in the supply chain take responsibility for making it function correctly that farmers will have the confidence to invest in the future once again.

There are solutions in the form of forward contracts, formula pricing and supply chain integration but these must be more widely used if farming is to return to the thriving, profitable industry it once was. Agriculture is the bedrock of our rural economy in Wales and that is the goal we must strive towards.