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6 December 2021

Sustainability Underpins the Future of Wales’ Family Farms

Sustainability means creating a future that meets the hopes of our children living on Wales’ network of family farms, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) Chair Catherine Smith, told an industry audience at the recent Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Winter Fair.

“The future of family farms is at the front of my mind because I have three optimistic farming children that I will do everything I can to ensure have futures in this industry. We cannot let them down; they are entrusting us to build a Wales worth living in for generations to come,” she said.

“I recently asked my children how they saw their future. Eight-year-old Noah told me ‘I want to be a farmer that is kind to nature.’ I was really taken aback. Then I realised that would make him a farmer just like us. That’s exactly what we do, to earn a living and at the same time look after nature – our animals and our surroundings – with consideration and compassion,” said Catherine Smith.

“Sustainability means creating a future that meets not only policy objectives but also the hopes of all the Noahs – and the Neryses and Nathans and Natashas – on all of our family farms.”

She said that in October HCC launched a practical guide for farmers – ‘Perfecting the Welsh Way’. It curated the industry’s best practices and consolidated the latest advice on how to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration. “I firmly believe that the ‘Welsh Way’ is premium red meat’s world leading production system. With the leadership of HCC, the support of Welsh Government and the backing of the industry, we can be world leaders for centuries to come,” said Catherine Smith.

Wales was rich in water and grass with plentiful land that absorbs carbon, she said. Welsh farms produce high-quality protein without importing feed which harms forests and ecosystems in other parts of the globe.

“Let’s make it clear: the farming industry here also understands that change is good. We all must change to survive. But change is only helpful if it is built on the proven achievements of the past. It must add to the carefully crafted working practices that have delivered for our family farms over generations. Practices which protect local landscapes and the very special culture that several centuries of mutual commitment has created. Practices which are a solid foundation for delivering what the modern consumer wants,” she said.

Cath Smith said positive and effective change was reliant on three things – the policy framework, effective leadership and the consuming public.

“People really can be persuaded that they don’t need to cut red meat out of their diet in order to eat in an environmentally conscious way,” she said. “They recognise the attractiveness of Wales’ wonderful lush landscapes, and our compelling backstory. They perceive Welsh Lamb to be more sustainably produced than lamb from elsewhere.

“There is a lot depending on it. The environment, the economy and our communities. They are the three legs that support the stool of sustainability on which sits our children’s hopes, their expectations and their future,” said Catherine Smith.


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