Janet Finch-Saunders AM's column - 3rd February 2020

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending time with the Eco Group at St David’s College. 

I was scrutinised on all aspects of the environment, from the impact of plastic waste to floods.

Their passion for combating climate change and loving the landscape in which we live was inspirational.

Thankfully, they are not alone in their quest to seek positive change.

I agree with them, and have been working to help support the growth of greener communities, such as by campaigning for a cycle path between Conwy and Glan Conwy, promoting small hydropower projects, and holding the Welsh Government to account on the lack of a deposit return scheme in Wales.

Forging a climate friendly Wales cannot be achieved without supporting our local farmers.

We have them to thank for a fantastic renewable fibre source: wool.

In addition to clothing, the material is a natural insulator which can help reduce carbon emissions from our homes.

65% of land in our United Kingdom is best suited for growing grass rather than other crops, so I am proud that our farmers are making the most of it.

It is fact that British beef has a greenhouse gas footprint 2.5 times lower than the rest of the world.

A study published last year assessed the impact on greenhouse gases if all food production in England and Wales switched to organic.

The finding is eye opening: emissions could rise by 21% as whilst there would be a 40% drop in production, there would be increased reliance on imports.

The study goes to highlight the importance to our climate that we continue to promote and support food production here in Wales.

Local options are plentiful, such as meat from Edwards of Conwy; eggs from the Cae Melwr milk float, Llanrwst; and potatoes from the trailer in the layby by Meadow Vale garage every Saturday.

Even when in supermarkets, we can keep an eye out for Welsh produce and brands, such as Llaeth y Llan yogurt, Dragon milk, and Snowdonia cheese.

Alongside supporting the environment, there is another important reason why we should put our farmers first.

During my recent farmhouse breakfast with Mr Glyn Roberts, President of the Farmers Union of Wales, I was sorry to learn of the significant pressure on farmers.

Sadly, despite producing premium produce, they continue to face periods of uncertainty which can contribute negatively to mental health and well-being.

As many as one in four people in agriculture have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

The sector has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK.