FARMING leaders took a positive line on the year ahead in their New Year messages.

Meurig Raymond, NFU president, said opportunities would continue to arise throughout Brexit negotiations "and we must be ready to take them wherever we can."

Tim Breitmeyer, CLA president, said that although there is uncertainty, this is a defining era for the future of British farming.

"I am clear that positive change can drive forward growth and productivity for the benefit of the rural economy and our rural businesses," he said.

"Centre stage though must be a profitable, resilient farming sector as the foundation of a thriving rural economy which supports vibrant local communities.

"Our sector faces challenges and it is clear that we will need to farm differently in the future. Concentrating on the highest quality food production and exploring new opportunities for environmental and countryside management, will be a sound foundation for success."

Mr Raymond said the impending Agricultural White Paper and Agriculture Bill will shape the industry for generations to come.

But he said: "Despite the uncertain times, I am confident that the NFU has set a clear path for farming and that working with the industry, stakeholders and Governments across the UK, we can all secure a future that delivers for the country, society and thousands of family farms."

He said farming was the bedrock of the UK’s food and drink sector, providing 3.8 million jobs and £112 billion to the economy. "Future policy must enable British farmers to invest and grow so the sector can continue to play its part in a successful UK post-Brexit."

Both leaders welcomed the fact that the Government's Industrial Strategy had included the importance of agriculture.

Mr Breitmeyer said everybody needed 4G mobile technology. "The shocking statistic that eight out of 10 rural households are without this, must be immediately addressed.

"Brexit aside, an urgent government priority in 2018 must be to ensure the mobile industry delivers a service that produces genuine nationwide connectivity, for urban and rural alike."