Welsh farmers light beacons to send message to politicians

Bonfires have been lit on farms across Wales in a renewed and symbolic protest against government policies.

Anger has been mounting that the issue of future food security has been completely ignored by political parties in the run-up to the general election.

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That spilled over into direct action on Monday evening  (1 July) when bonfires were set ablaze on around 50 farms, including at Shadog Farm, near Llandysul, where one of the chief organisers, Gary Howells, farms beef and sheep.

Mr Howells is a member of Digon yw Digon, which translates to Enough is Enough, a group of farmers that are trying to enact change.

He told Farmers Weekly that no issues relating to agriculture had been addressed by political leaders at the pre-election debates.

“There has been no mention of agriculture and food sustainability,” he said.

“We keep hearing about the cost of food and the cost of living, but how is it possible to address either of those without addressing the issue of food and farming security?”

Monday evening’s protests also involved agricultural supply businesses that fear for their livelihoods unless governments do more to help the industry.

“We had businesses here who spoke about having to lay off staff because sales have slowed down, because farmers are uncertain about the future, and that has direct consequences for the local economy,” said Mr Howells.

A group of protesters

© Meinir Howells


Agriculture is a devolved power and the Welsh government has introduced some changes under the leadership of the new rural affairs secretary Huw Irranca-Davies.

However, Mr Howells described changes such as the on-farm slaughter of in-calf cows and heifers that test positive for bovine TB as “tinkering around the edges”.

“All they have done with the position on on-farm slaughter is to heap the burden and mental distress onto farmers of making a decision between culling an animal on the farm or keeping it for 50 days, and the implications that has for the next TB test,” he said.

Digon yw Digon intends to hold a public meeting at the Royal Welsh showground on the first day of the event later this month.

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