Farmers gathered outside the Welsh government office in Aberystwyth on Thursday to protest against the Welsh government’s sustainable farming schemes.

A convoy of tractors and farming vehicles drove into Aberystwyth from Bow Street, Lovesgrove, Tregaron and Devil’s Bridge. Beeping their horns along the way, the convoy vehicles had signs on them saying “enough is enough” and “no farms, no food.”

The panel of speakers at the farming protest
The panel of speakers at the farming protest (Alex Bowen)

Wales’ sustainable farming schemes outline the welsh government’s proposal to offer subsidies to farmers to replace those once offered through the EU. Unlike in England and Scotland, the scheme in Wales requires farmers to give up 10% of their farmable land to plant trees, and use another 10% for wildlife.

According to the Welsh Government’s own economic impact assessment, the scheme will result in a 122,200 reduction in Welsh livestock numbers, 5,500 jobs being lost, and a £199m loss to Wales' economy.

As well as protesting their concerns over the scheme, protestors also raised concerns over the Welsh Government’s water quality rules - that require farmers to limit the amount of nitrogen on their land from livestock manure to stop it washing into welsh waterways - the spread of TB in Wales and the measures used to control it.

At the protest, a panel spoke of their frustrations about the scheme, and the issues affecting farmers. The panel included Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, Ceredigion County Councillor, Gwyn Evans, MS Elin Jones and Pembrokeshire Conservative and potato farmer Aled Thomas.

Protestors at the government building
Protestors at the government building (Alex Bowen)

Cllr Gwyn Evans said: “I would hope we wouldn’t have to be here, but we have to be here today. Though it’s only two months before Mark Drakeford leaves office, things aren’t going to get better soon.

“We know power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, that’s what’s happening with the welsh labour government. They’re doing whatever they like, in whatever form they like, and they carry on with it.

“I had the opportunity to speak to Mark Drakeford, and I asked him, ‘before the next election, would you go to football and rugby clubs and tell them to plant trees on 10% of the pitch and another 10% for nature?

“He said ‘that’s ridiculous,’ well I agree - it’s where the clubs make their money, and this is where the farmers make theirs. They want them planted on good land, arable land, not just around the farm.”

MP Ben Lake said: “There’s no certainty in the future right now, farmers are backed into a corner. The government is meant to represent the countryside and the country equally. I hope if there’s anyone in the welsh government building behind us today that they’re listening, and they see how important farming is.

“Farming in Wales is unique, there are so many jobs in the countryside, and I find it disgraceful that a labour government is intending to pass a policy that would see 5,500 jobs being taken, at least.

Tractors lined both sides of the road by the Welsh Government office
Tractors lined both sides of the road by the Welsh Government office (Alex Bowen)

“Look what’s happening around the world, with all the destruction in Ukraine because others are dependent on another country’s resources. I don’t want to imagine a country when it runs out of food. The government need to remember that conversation around food security is important.

“If we are going to support Welsh countryside life, we need farming.”

MS Elin Jones was met by cheers when she emphasised the importance of including wildlife culling methods in measures to tackle TB. She also said a multitude of parties will be pushing for labour to halt the sustainable farming scheme in a Senedd meeting next week.

She said: “Plaid Cymru would like to see a scheme similar to Scotland’s, where there is a basic payment, and top ups based on environmental activity.

“Plaid Cymru does not support the sustainable farming scheme in its current form, and we will be working alongside the conservatives and liberal democrats to halt the sustainable farming scheme. There will be a debate on that next week on Wednesday, 28 February.

Farming machinery dealer Elgan Evans, from Brodyr Evans, said: “It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that 20% less land, means less productivity, less turnover, and less profit. The business won’t survive.”

Aberystwyth Town Councillor Mair Benjamin spoke to protestors on the day. She said: “I felt very sorry for farmers and very concerned for them.

“Nothing’s improved for farmers in the last years, really it’s gotten worse. It made me very disappointed in the Welsh government’s Welsh farming scheme. I want to understand their reasoning, but overall it feels very shocking.”

NFU Vice chair Martin Griffiths appealed to farmers to voice their opposition for the sustainable farming scheme through the NFU website ( or by searching ‘have your say nfu’ online

In Gwynedd MP Liz Saville Roberts said: “Welsh agriculture faces unprecedented challenges and real concern about the future viability of the sector.”

After hearing concerns of farmers in Dolgellau, she added: “The Welsh Labour Government must listen and respond to these concerns or risk an industry which is one of the most important cornerstones of our rural economy.”