In an era when natural is king, the news that the Welsh Assembly thinks it is better for cows to burp indoors borders on the barmy.

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones had asked the Land Use Climate Change Group to come up with solutions on how agriculture could reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change.

The best the members of this group could come up with was a proposal to remove farm animals from their natural environment and lock them in sheds to capture their flatulence.

They think this will help Wales achieve a self-imposed target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2040.

I can think of many words to describe this proposal but the one that perhaps best sums it up is insanity.

Not only will this present farmers with another layer of cost that will be passed on to consumers, but surely it amounts to the kind of intensive farming we have been told for years equates to ill-treatment of animals.

And when it comes to impacting on the environment, I wonder if the strategists have considered the following: l More power required from the grid for running lighting and the methane capture units; l Feed imported from overseas; l Additional vaccinations to prevent disease among animals kept in close proximity.

Wales has an economic advantage in pasture-based systems of dairying. What it doesn’t have is an economic advantage in growing either cereal crops or protein crops, nor any advantages in fully-housed TMR dairying.

Given the expectation of a world facing chronic food and water shortages, we should be looking forward to the dairy export opportunities that Wales can capitalise on, if we can operate successfully within new environmental constraints.

In fact, Wales surely has a moral obligation to help feed the world when other countries are already vulnerable to droughts and water shortages.

Of course Wales must change, leaving things as they are is not an option. But year-round housing of cattle is not progress, it is a step backwards.