“No farmers, No food”: Welsh farmers struggle with new policies

In Wales, many farmers are protesting against the details of the Welsh government’s new Sustainable Farming Scheme

Angry Welsh farmers gather in front of Parliament House

Thousands of farmers are gathered at the Welsh Parliament to peacefully protest against Welsh government policies that threaten the future of the farming industry in Wales.

This scheme requires farmers to dedicate land to tree planting and wildlife habitats. Specifically, Welsh farmers are expected to allocate 10% of their land for tree planting and another 10% for wildlife habitats.

“All by standing here today, we’re sending a message to the Welsh parliament and the Welsh government that we’re not happy, and we’re not happy with a single sustainable farming scheme,” said one of the speakers at the farmers’ protest, “So instead of us just telling the minister, well this is what the industry thinks, this is what the industry thinks, we’re getting that message across loud and clear.”

The Welsh Government maintains that the subsidy proposals are designed to support farmers while also addressing the climate crisis. The government has run an extensive co-design exercise in developing the SFS and is still in the process of consulting on the scheme, with no final decision to be made until after this consultation period. 

Welsh Government spokesperson emphasized that the scheme aims to support food production, maintain farming practices, preserve the environment, and tackle the climate and nature emergencies. 

Horn and his companions came to Cardiff from North Wales

Horn, A farmer from north Wales, said, “I don’t want my farm to have no future…”

“When you have a scheme on the table that talks about taking five and a half thousand farmers out of existence, reduces cattle numbers by 125,000, takes out 800,000 sheep and takes 200 million pounds out of the economic output of the rural economy, then that really does put a question Mark over where we’re going as a country and where we’re going as an industry.”

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has expressed his support for the protesting farmers. He criticized the Welsh Government’s proposed changes to farm subsidies, calling them “damaging” and “shocking.” He suggested that these changes could result in job losses, reduced food production and security, and harm to farm incomes.

Sunak emphasized that the farmers have a right to be angry about these plans, which he believes are particularly wrong for rural Wales. The Prime Minister reassured the farmers of his support, stating that the UK government has their back in this matter.

Agriculture’s share of GVA in Wales was 0.71% in 2014, again higher than the UK average of 0.61%. Picture from hcrlaw.com

Agriculture is a vital sector in Wales, contributing significantly both to employment and the economy. Approximately 4.07% of the total regional employment in Wales comes from agriculture, which is higher than the UK average of 1.42%. This indicates a more significant role of agriculture in employment in Wales compared to other UK regions.

The Gross Value Added (GVA) of agriculture in Wales is also higher than the national average, reflecting its substantial economic impact. Additionally, the unique geographical and climatic conditions in Wales, which favor livestock and pasture over arable farming, further highlight the importance of agriculture in the region.