THE Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has urged the Welsh Government to promote and support native breeds of livestock and equines in order to maximise the economic, environmental and cultural benefits that these breeds can provide in Wales.

RBST's message is set out in the charity's response to the Welsh Government's White Paper to provide the basis of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill.

The key points of RBST's submission include the proposed funding in support of biodiversity should extend to agro-biodiversity, including native livestock and equines.

The RBST also wish to see incentives in recognising the important role of native breeds in the development and maintenance of natural habitats.

These incentives should encourage farmers and other land managers to use native breeds in preference to larger continental breeds.

The RBST also believe the Welsh Government should promote the benefits of native breeds, maximising their economic value to local areas and to the rural economy.

And finally the RBST believe a partnership approach between farmers and Welsh Government should be set out to revive the local abattoir network.

Alongside farmers collaborating to ensure consistency of supply, Welsh Government should invest to ensure the existing network can meet changing demands; and invest in mobile and pop-up abattoirs where needed.

Rare Breeds Survival Trust chief executive, Christopher Price, said: "Welsh Government is proposing the most significant changes to Welsh agriculture policy in decades, and native breeds should be integral to its ambition to support sustainable food production whilst addressing climate change and restoring biodiversity.

"Native breeds are the ultimate ecosystem service providers, they have been bred for our landscapes and have for centuries provided food and clothing across Wales while at the same time developing and maintaining natural habitats.

"There is great potential to increase the important benefits they already deliver, both economic and environmental, and this is a prime opportunity for Welsh Government to create policy that will allow Wales to capitalise on these benefits, now and for the generations to come.

"The funding proposed in support of Sustainable Land Management should extend to agro-biodiversity, including Wales's native livestock and equines, and incentives should be used to encourage farmers and other land managers to develop and maintain natural habitats and increase biodiversity by choosing native breeds over larger continental breeds.

"Policies to maximise the benefits to Wales from native breeds of livestock must go hand in hand with action to reverse the decline of the local abattoir network.

"The shortage and uneven geographic dispersal of abattoirs which are capable of processing non-standard animals in small numbers is very restrictive for farmers and smallholders who want to choose rare breeds.

"A partnership approach where farmers collaborate to ensure consistency of supply and Welsh Government invests in future-proofing services and skills, including mobile and pop-up abattoirs where needed, is crucial."