Thousands of Welsh farmers protest in Cardiff over SFS

Farmers have taken to the streets in recent weeks as anger over the Sustainable Farming Scheme grows (Photo: X: Jacob_cwmrisca)
Farmers have taken to the streets in recent weeks as anger over the Sustainable Farming Scheme grows (Photo: X: Jacob_cwmrisca)

Thousands of Welsh farmers are taking part in a protest in Cardiff this afternoon over heightening concerns at the Welsh government's vision for the industry.

Over 10,000 farmers are in the Welsh capital in a show of anger centred on a series of issues they say are threatening their industry.

One of them is the Welsh government's Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) proposals, which has received huge backlash from farmers in recent weeks.

South Wales Police said it was aware of a planned protest being held in Cardiff Bay from 12:30pm today (28 February), but it urged farmers not to bring tractors to it due to safety concerns.

In its current form, the SFS, Wales' post-Brexit system of support, stipulates that farmers must have at least 10% tree cover on their land and a further 10% for wildlife habitat.

However, a recent impact assessment commissioned by the government found that the SFS risked reducing 122,000 livestock units, representing a 'shocking' 11% fall.

In response, farmers have conducted go-slow tractor protests across Wales, and unions and organisations have held dozens of events and discussions, with some attracting thousands of participants.

Earlier this month, dozens of farmers protested outside Lesley Griffiths' - Wales' Rural Affairs Minister - own office in Wrexham.

Today's protest, which began at 12.30pm, has already attracted thousands of farmers, with many holding placards reading "enough is enough" and "no farmers, no food".

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said farmers in Cardiff were "relaying the strength of feeling towards the current SFS".

“As custodians of the Welsh landscape with generations of our ancestors who have cared for the green hills that surround us, we are proud to stand in unity on the Senedd steps today," it said.

"We have received messages of support from across Wales and beyond in recent weeks, and we are grateful that people appreciate the steps we take to produce quality, wholesome food within our local communities."

South Wales Police had urged those participating in it not to bring tractor other other agricultural vehicles due to safety concerns.

The force said that the the extent of any delays to other road users was currently unclear, adding "as a force we are monitoring this situation closely".

And while there would be no planned road closures, there would be controlled access to some roads around the Senedd.

Superintendent Esyr Jones said: “We are in discussions with the organisers to ensure that the protest takes place safely, lawfully with minimum disruption to the wider public.

“While there is an agreement to facilitate protest activity outside the Senedd, I would urge protestors not to bring tractors or other agricultural vehicles to the protest.

"There are concerns that they pose a risk to the safety of other road users and restrict the movement of emergency services in a busy city environment.

“We will monitor the situation across the day and motorists should check for any disruption on the road network and plan their journeys accordingly.

"We will advise the public of any delays or disruption throughout the course of the day.”

It follows the formation of a new UK-wide campaign group 'No Farmers, No Food', which says it will put pressure on the government to ensure British farming remains viable into the future.

The group, which has attracted thousands of followers on social media after it was launched last month, says it is a "collection of farmers who are concerned that the future of farming is currently under threat."