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Farmers’ protest grinds traffic to a halt on busy A48 in west Wales

DEMONSTRATING strength and unity, farmers across west Wales have taken to the A48 in Carmarthenshire, staging a protest that dramatically slowed traffic to a crawl.

The demonstration, which occurred yesterday, saw a parade of tractors along the busy dual carriageway, signalling deep-seated frustrations with the Welsh Government’s policy plans.

This latest action follows a substantial gathering in Carmarthen last week, where approximately 3,000 farmers voiced their opposition to several policies under consideration by the Welsh Government. Cefin Campbell, the Plaid Cymru MS for Mid & West Wales, captured the sentiment of the crowd, stating, “Enough is enough,” highlighting the palpable frustration towards not only the Welsh Government but also Westminster on various issues impacting rural communities.

At the heart of the farmers’ grievances is the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), which seeks to mandate that 10 percent of farmland be afforested as a condition for funding eligibility. This scheme is poised to replace the legacy Common Agricultural Policy schemes, including the Basic Payment Scheme, from 2025.

Critics, including Montgomeryshire MS Russell George, have raised alarms over the scheme’s potential impacts, notably a projected 10.8% reduction in Welsh livestock units, equating to a decrease of 122,200 across the sector. Additionally, an 11% reduction in labour on Welsh farms is anticipated, potentially resulting in the loss of approximately 5,500 jobs, based on current employment levels. George also highlighted the increasing regulatory pressures on the farming industry, arguing that such measures often fail to recognise the sector’s longstanding stewardship of the countryside.

The farmers’ rally cry, “no farmers, no food,” underscores the essential role agriculture plays in the Welsh culture, economy, and preservation of the language. The sector’s plea for support comes at a critical juncture, as it faces unprecedented challenges.

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In response, the Welsh Government has emphasised its commitment to working in partnership with the farming sector. Officials have assured that no final decisions regarding the SFS will be made until the ongoing consultation concludes on 7 March, signalling an opportunity for stakeholders to influence the final policy direction.

As the consultation period draws to a close, the farming community remains hopeful for a constructive dialogue that recognises their concerns and contributions to Welsh society. The resolve demonstrated by the farmers’ protest on the A48 serves as a potent reminder of the sector’s significance and the urgent need for policies that support, rather than undermine, the foundations of rural Wales.