Happy New Year. Our country is beset by uncertainty. We are powerless to sort out the Brexit situation but we can take a look at our farming systems and prepare for the future, whatever the Government decides.

Food will always be required but there is increasing emphasis on assurance and quality without the necessary increase in commodity prices. Farming Connect is available to help farms increase efficiency and productivity and to think about diversification and succession. On our farms we all have habitats and ecosystems which we could use to increase our incomes in future. A lot of farmers have undertaken environmental schemes such as Glastir and Tir Gofal. These have contributed to the cost of works and profit forgone, but it is necessary to design a scheme that pays for environmental habitats.

Over the next year, farmers and NFU Cymru will have to negotiate the outline of these future schemes and payments with Welsh Government. It is useful to look at your farm from an environmental rather than production point of view, and see how you could, with funding, capitalise on the habitats on your holding. Perhaps you could fence out a wet area and plant trees to add shelter, fence out a brook or river to stop erosion, and make a buffer between areas of high productivity and the water ecosystem, or if you have fields that need shelter, you could put in hedges or woodlands.

In mid-December I gave a short talk about biodiversity on our farm at a conference in Westminster. The NFU was launching a report ‘United by our Environment and Our Food, Our Future’. Minette Batters, NFU president, stated in her introduction that “Farmers inherently are custodians of the countryside and are well practised at balancing its needs while producing safe, affordable, traceable food.”

This report aims to start a conversation about our farmed environment. As an industry, farming has a history of embracing change and a desire to leave our farmed environment in a better condition for the next generation.

If you are interested in birds in the countryside the Big Farmland Bird Count takes place between February 8 and 17, 2019. For more information visit www.bfbc.org.uk