fbpx

Thousands of farmers protest outside Welsh Parliament

Protesters are objecting to proposals by the Welsh Government to require more land to be set aside for environmental schemes.

Thousands of people have descended on the Welsh Parliament in protest at a proposed overhaul of farming subsidies they say threaten their industry.

Protesters, who had travelled from across the country to attend the event, cheered, waved Welsh flags and held placards in Welsh and English reading: “No Farmers, No Food”.

They are objecting to proposals by the Welsh Labour government to require more land to be set aside for environmental schemes.

Farmers protest outside the Senedd in Cardiff over planned changes to farming subsidies (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Farmers protest outside the Senedd in Cardiff over planned changes to farming subsidies (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A series of protests have already taken place across Wales but the event in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday was the largest by far, attended by thousands of farmers.

South Wales Police had previously asked those attending not to bring tractors, meaning a line of the vehicles were parked along a road leading to Cardiff Bay.

The event saw speeches from Senedd politicians from the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru, as well as from former international rugby union referee Nigel Owens.

He told the cheering crowds: “In 2015, I was very privileged to referee the World Cup final in Twickenham – the proudest moment of my career.

“But today I’m even prouder to come and speak in front of good, decent people. An honour to be here to speak and to support you today as a fellow farmer.”

Mr Owens said he had dreamed of becoming a farmer since he was eight years old, and now had a small freeholding.

Former rugby union referee Nigel Owens addresses protesters in front of the Senedd during a protest by thousands of farmers (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Former rugby union referee Nigel Owens addresses protesters in front of the Senedd (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“I do it became I care, because I’m passionate about the industry that we are in,” Mr Owens said. “But without farmers there is no food.

“There can be no Six Nations game in Cardiff next Saturday against France if there is no referee. There can be no food on the table if there are no farmers.”

Protesters placed wellington boots in adult and child sizes in front of the speakers.

Mr Owens said: “In decades time to come, we want to see people in those wellingtons, not empty ones.”

The protesters are objecting to the sustainable farming scheme (SFS), which is currently under consultation and would require 10% of a farmer’s land to be covered in trees in exchange for future funding.

Farming leaders say the scheme could result in 5,500 job losses.

Farmers protest outside the Sennedd in Cardiff (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A series of protests have already taken place in Cardiff, but Wednesday’s demonstration was the largest by far after thousands of farmers descended on the Welsh city (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Welsh government insists it is listening to farmers’ concerns and changes can be made.

Those demonstrating have seen the support of the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who told a gathering outside the Welsh Conservative conference last week that “we’ve got your back”.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Farming is very important to Wales and our economy and we want a successful future for Welsh farming.

“We have had a seven-year conversation with farmers to design future farming support and we are committed to continuing to work with farmers to develop the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

“This is a genuine consultation and no decisions will be taken on any element of the proposal, including how we achieve the requirement for habitat and trees, until we have conducted a full analysis of the consultation responses.

“We have been clear we expect changes to be made following the consultation, and we will continue to listen.

“The First Minister and Rural Affairs Minister provided an update yesterday on a number of key areas to support the sector.”

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition

News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.