AT the recent NFU Cymru conference, Wales’ rural affairs minister defended her new land management scheme, Glastir, from a volley of criticism.

She insisted that one of its strengths is that it will bring more farmers into agri-environment schemes.

Farmers in Wales will indeed see many changes to their income streams in the coming years. There will be winners and losers.

According to Elin Jones some of the losers could be larger farms because Glastir is aimed at distributing the financial benefits of farming more fairly in harmony with the environment.

Changes to the Common Agricultural Policy will impact on farm businesses too.

Rumblings from the EU hint at a greening of Pillar One. In other words, farmers will have to hit more environmental targets to get their Single Farm Payment.

But the more environmental targets there are, the more it will take away from what farmers should be doing – producing food.

As an island nation, food security is vital to Britain but this can get overlooked as farmers are ever more encouraged to improve their green credentials.

Of course the environment is important and farmers have a significant role to play in its management. But has Government support of agriculture become too heavily weighted in its favour?

It’s time the opinions of farmers on how the farmed environment should be managed were listened to. After all, they are the people who work in it and understand it. Much of the past damage at field level has either been reversed or is improving rapidly. But by allowing the environment to dominate decision-making we continue to reduce our commercial competitiveness.

If our food industry is allowed to wither, rebuilding it would be difficult and costly.