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5,500 wellies placed on steps of Senedd in symbolic display of farming job losses

06 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Wellies lined up outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

Emily Price

Farmers have placed 5,500 wellies outside the Senedd today in a symbolic display representing the jobs that could be lost due to a proposed overhaul of farming subsidies in Wales.

NFU Cymru members organised the display on the eve of the closing of the Welsh Government’s ‘Keeping Farmers Farming’ Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation.

It comes following a mass gathering of thousands of farmers at the Senedd last week in a protest against the new scheme which has been branded “unworkable”.

The SFS in its current form will require farmers to farm sustainably by bringing their existing tree and woodland cover up to 10% – and earmarking another 10% for habitat.

Farmers say this would never be practical whilst running a farm business and unions say the tree cover requirement represents a “major barrier” to scheme entry.

According to a report by the Welsh Government, over 5000 farming jobs could be lost as a result of the scheme.

NFU Cymru member and display organiser Paul Williams said: “Seeing these 5,500 wellies lined up on the steps of the Senedd is an emphatic depiction of the potential jobs that will be lost to Welsh agriculture if these proposals go ahead in their current guise.

“What makes our industry so special is the people and families for whom it’s more than just a job. We have wellies of all sizes and colours on display, representing those who have farmed for decades and whose families have farmed our land for generations, as well as those with smaller feet but big ambitions for a future in our industry when they are older.

“The MSs who have looked out on the display today from the Senedd must understand what is at stake and commit to ensuring the final Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals don’t harm Welsh businesses and communities.”

Wellies outside the Senedd.

‘Poignant’

The uncertainty around the future of agricultural support in Wales comes against a backdrop of continuous bovine TB breakdowns and the slaughtering of thousands of Welsh cattle every year.

This is in addition to an all-Wales approach to bureaucratic pollution regulations which will cost the industry in excess of £400m to comply with.

Speaking beside the display, rural affairs spokesperson Llyr Gruffydd said: “With just 24 hours left of the consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme, it’s very moving to see all the wellies placed on the Senedd steps.

“These 5,500 pairs represent the potential job losses in agriculture unless Labour changes course on its proposals.

“It’s so important that everyone who has concerns about the scheme makes their view known in this consultation. Please make sure your voice is heard.

“Plaid Cymru is calling on the Welsh Government to pause the introduction of the SFS, and review its proposals, particularly the proposals on 10% tree cover. Such an arbitrary one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.

“The Government has to acknowledge that without a scheme that works for farmers there will be no environmental benefits for anyone. It must take a step back and work with the sector to bring forward a scheme that works for farming and for nature.”

Plaid Cymru MSs standing alongside the wellies display.

Ambitions

The Welsh Government says the scheme has been designed to keep farmers on the land in recognition that food production is vital for the nation.

The Welsh Conservatives say the Welsh Government must get back around the table and create a scheme that “actively works for farmers and not against them.”

Samuel Kurtz MS, Shadow Rural Affairs Minister, said: “The Senedd steps have seen a number of protests and displays over the years, but I would argue that none have been as poignant and powerful as the display of 5,500 empty wellies.

“Empty wellies representing the empty farms and empty communities that will be seen the length and breadth of rural Wales if the SFS goes ahead without some serious and wholesale changes.

“I urge the First Minister, the Rural Affairs Minister and all Senedd Members to go and see the display for themselves and I challenge them not to be moved.”

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

“Our seven-year conversation with farmers to design future farming support is ongoing – 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 about 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 last week on a number of key areas to support the sector.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Imagine if the footwear of all those who have died due to the actions of the Tory Government over the last decade and a half were laid out from Trafalgar Square to the Palace of Westminster, what would it look like !

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

300k+60k
A lot of wellies. A lot of lives.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

I know symbolism is everything, and where I would normally support 100% our farmers, can’t get the imagery out of my head seeing it’s 40 years to the day thousands of striking Welsh miners fought valiantly for their livelihoods and communities against that English fascist Margaret Thatcher who deliberately destroyed their industry leaving those hardworking communities that gave so much but received so little in return deprived deserts void of investment and hope,even today. Where were Welsh farmers protesting with their support and solidarity towards those suffering mining communities and their longsuffering families? After all farmers wouldn’t be in this… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Where were Welsh farmers protesting with their support and solidarity towards those suffering mining communities and their longsuffering families?  Your memory is letting you down. Farmers from West Wales were involved in shipping food and other aid to mining communities. It all happened roughly the same time as the conflict over milk quotas was raging around the countryside and there was a lot of “common cause” between the rural and mining communities. As for Brexit, that’s a big red herring. Sure some farmers voted for it, but there again so did most other segments of our electorate yet we don’t… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Are they going to done for littering? No? Oh well, one rule for the farmers I suppose.

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago

Should have parked all their 180k tractors there as well

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Gaynor

You’re confusing those who run businesses paying a lot of money for industrial machines without which the businesses can’t function with those people who pay a lot of money for high performance and over engineered cars they don’t need.

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

They do that as well.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago

I hope farmers who voted for Brexit did NOT place wellies there. Brexiters have no right to complain, they are engineers of their own downfall.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

How many of the disgruntled dimwits from East Wales took their own back on the EU when their life-support systems had that circle of stars on a blue background which apparently very few knew the meaning of…these folks way outnumbered the farmers…for the sake of balance, there were the older incomer charity shop workers…ask the kids that were too young to vote, did you plead with your mum and dad not too ruin your chances…all these and more we spoke to in our shop and on the street, deaf, dumb and blind to which side their bread was buttered. Where… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I don’t think we should argue over who voted for Brexit or not. That is now history and what really matters is to move forward and get the Disunited Kingdom back into the Single Market. Whilst farmers have been making a lot of noise, we should remember that the Welsh Government’s consultation over the scheme has been running for a long time. One must hope that unhappy farmers took the opportunity to express their views. We also need to recall that the scheme is basically the same scheme that the Tories have foisted on English farmers. I have not noticed… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

History ! Don’t talk wet, we are living it daily…try telling them in Ukraine, Gaza Yemen that it’s history…

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

There’s a lot I agree with in what you’ve written however oat milk is a not a version of milk but a different product altogether.
Oat juice would be a more accurate and honest name.

It’s important to have an accurate and honest name for these type of products also bacteria generated and insects because for anyone who for example likes milk or is expecting to taste something milky is going to be disappointed with the Oat milk experience. They are then likely choose not to buy it and stick with milk.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

Personally I like oat milk on my cereal.

Mind you it tastes bl00dy awful in coffee…

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

Shopped at Sainsbury yesterday. Passed one of those placards no farming no food. Went thru my shopping. Nothing came from Wales. This is the crux of the matter , Welsh famers dont produce enough food. I will buy local meat when i buy meat, twice a month maybe, and i don’t drink milk. Lamb is not a Welsh person’s staple diet neither is the beef: pork and chicken mainly imported. I Buy Llaeth y llan and a local veg box. But we will not starve if farmers change tack. As most consume imported food. That is far from right but… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Gaynor

most consume imported food...which surprises me when so many of them are very righteous about the environment. So much of the imported food travels 100’s and sometimes 1,000’s of miles yet no one really cares about food miles and the carbon emissions of the carriers be they air, sea or land. Entirely the result of consumers falling for the con driven by supermarkets.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Gaynor

If consumers were more willing to pay more for in season local food and supermarkets were willing not to squeeze as much, for as little outlay out of producers the contents of an average shopping trolley would look a lot different.

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