FARMING has a central role to play in helping tackle climate change, despite attacks on the industry for its contribution to climate change.

The truth is that Welsh greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are a third of that of our energy sector, less than half of that of our heavier industries, and well below that of transport.

Livestock farmers in particular have been criticised for their food production, false accusations that claim their livelihood is detrimental to the environment and actually increases emissions.

But official figures for agriculture do not include the carbon that is captured in our soils, woodlands and hedgerows, or saved through the thousands of turbines and solar panels on farms across Wales.

The fact that the carbon footprint of agriculture is around 65 times lower per hectare than all other sources of Welsh greenhouse gases is never mentioned.

Like all industries, farming has a responsibility to work harder to reduce emissions and tackle climate change, and the extinction rebellion protests in London reflect very valid worries about the impact of not recognising the seriousness of the situation.

But there are those who want to use our industry as a scapegoat, or climate change as a vehicle for anti-farming agendas, and they risk making matters worse by undermining Welsh producers and merely shifting food production to countries which have higher emissions and far lower environmental standards.

In addition, misguided pressures on agriculture could further accelerate the loss of key species which rely on farming. Environmentalists are finally acknowledging that rules which have reduced farming activity on important habitats have been a major factor in the loss of species such as curlews and lapwings.

And now there is a real danger that policies, based on misapprehensions about the role of livestock farming in climate change, could lead to further reductions in livestock grazing, thereby accelerating species loss as well as causing damage to rural economies.

The next steps in relation to the Welsh Government’s plans for post-Brexit rural and agricultural policies is going to be critical in terms of climate change, habitat and rural incomes.

Without a policy which ensures farming communities are economically and environmentally sustainable, Welsh food production and the Welsh economy will be devastated, and our ability to rise to the challenge our generation faces in terms of tackling climate change will be severely undermined.