Farmers have had enough. In the last fortnight, thousands of Welsh farmers have gathered in Carmarthenshire and in Welshpool. They are gathering because they are not prepared to accept the demise of Welsh agriculture.
The Labour Welsh Government is drawing up a new scheme for farming subsidies. As part of the plans, farmers will only be eligible for cash if 10 per cent of their land is planted with trees, and 10 per cent is treated as a wildlife habitat.
This is blatantly an attempt by the Welsh Government to get farmers to do the heavy lifting to meet Labour’s tree-planting targets.
To force farmers to write off a massive chunk of their land so Labour can check some green boxes might satisfy a baying mob of eco-warriors, but it will be hugely damaging to our rural economy.
Farmers are protesting all over Europe and they are threatening to come to the UK too
The Welsh Government’s own economic assessment of the plan shows that they could result in the loss of over 120,000 livestock units, £200million from farm business income and a brutal 5,500 job losses.
The deputy president of NFU Cymru said the new model would have “catastrophic impacts on farming businesses.”
This is existential. That’s why protesters in Carmarthenshire displayed a coffin to symbolise the death of Welsh farming if Labour’s plans go ahead. And I declare my interest as a proud farmer.
I farmed alongside my father, and my boys farm alongside me every day. Unless the Labour Government’s proposals are scrapped, I’m worried that my children won’t be able to farm alongside their grandchildren.
Sadly, this approach to our agriculture in Wales is nothing new from Labour. Back in 2022, Mark Drakeford made headlines after a quite frankly contemptible outburst, when he said that, in order to get subsidies farmers would have to help him: “justify to Bangladeshi taxi drivers in Riverside, where I live, why they should pay their taxes in order to support farmers in Wales.”
Mark Drakeford stepped down as Welsh First Minister
It says a lot that the First Minister of Wales feels unable to justify support for our farmers already, considering they manage 80 per cent of our land in Wales. Where does the First Minister think food comes from? After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, you’d think that the First Minister would understand the importance of food security, but apparently the penny hasn’t dropped.
It’s important not to forget that Plaid Cymru are in coalition with the Labour Government. They have to carry the can for this. As much as Plaid Cymru Members may claim to stand with our farmers, when it comes to it, in Cardiff Bay, they are propping up this Labour Government. While Plaid politicians portray themselves as friends of farmers, once they’re back in Cardiff Bay, they’re supporting a Welsh Government that is slashing the rural budget and imposing these barmy policies on our farmers.
A Keir Starmer Government could see 40,000 farmers lose their jobs
If the Welsh Government’s plans were replicated in England by a Keir Starmer Government, almost 40,000 farmers would lose their jobs, and Starmer has already called Labour-run Wales his ‘blueprint’ for Government.
Here in Wales, the custodians of the countryside are being treated as easy targets for metropolitan Labour lawmakers, who are destroying our agricultural communities to meet their own green targets.
There’s only so much farming can take and, when we look across Europe it’s clear that this friction isn’t just happening in Wales.
Metropolitan politicians would be well advised not to pick on farmers, or to make them losers in a cynical electoral calculation. After all, no farmers means no food.