The Welsh Government is being urged to work with the agriculture industry and not against it amid fears of growing unrest.
Farmers across Wales are concerned about the future of the sector, Plaid Cymru has said as unions warn of protests, with many farmers feeling rural Wales has been forgotten.
Meetings have been held in Carmarthen and Welshpool in recent weeks over the future of financial support for farmers and a drive by the Welsh Government to enforce a 10 per cent tree cover policy on farmland through the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme.
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “Farmers across Wales have had enough. They feel let down by governments either end of the M4. From Tory-made trade deals which undermine our agriculture sector and their failure to match EU-funding – to Labour’s weakness in dealing with the impact on TB on family farms, their delivery of a Habitat Wales Scheme which risks undoing so many years of agri-environment work, and an unworkable plan to cover 10 per cent of their land with trees, with the loss of productive farmland.
“Just as we ask for a just transition for other industries when it comes to tackling climate change and saving jobs, we must also secure such a just transition for the agriculture sector.”
Plaid Cymru spokesperson for rural affairs, Llyr Gruffydd MS added: “I am not surprised that farmers are angry given the enormous pressures faced by the industry at the moment.
“Be it the effects of Brexit, the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme, NVZs or bovine TB – these all are having an effect on the agriculture sector. But when they all come at the same time, the cumulative effect is so much worse.
“Plaid Cymru stands shoulder to shoulder with our rural communities and we will continue to demand from both Welsh and Westminster governments a change in direction which secures a future for our family farms in Wales.”
Conservative shadow rural affairs minister Samuel Kurtz has written to Lesley Griffiths, the rural affairs minister, urging her to pause the consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme.
He said: “The Sustainable Farming Scheme in its current form does not satisfy Wales’ farmers.
“I think it would be beneficial in both improving the policy and the relationship between the Welsh Government and Wales’ farming sector if the consultation was paused, changes were made with the assistance of the farming unions and revised plans were brought forward.
“Welsh farmers have had to deal with a host of policy changes in a short space of time. This cumulative effect is having a negative impact on the sector and farmers’ wellbeing; from NVZ regulations, lack of progress on Bovine TB, 10 per cent tree planting and even the school calendar changes which could impact the Royal Welsh Show.
“There is a real sense of frustration and anger in the sector at the moment, therefore I am urging the Welsh Government to pause this consultation and to redouble their efforts to get the scheme right so that it works for Wales’ farmers.”
The Welsh Government’s agriculture policy aims to reward “sustainable” food production and practices that help tackle climate change and nature loss.
To be eligible for the new payments farms must ensure 10 per cent of land is planted with trees and 10 per cent is treated as wildlife habitat.
Unions argue this will be unworkable for many with NFU Cymru saying the scheme would lead to 5,500 job losses in the industry.