Farmers to march in Cardiff over food security concerns

Frustrated farmers are planning a march in Cardiff to highlight the threat to the UK’s domestic food security posed by government anti-farming policies.

Welsh Farmers Unite, a newly formed grassroots farmer organisation, is co-ordinating the demonstration on Tuesday 14 May.

The organisers say farmers will march from Cardiff Castle to the Senedd, the Welsh parliament, to take their messages to the heart of Welsh government.

See also: Thousands of frustrated Welsh farmers descend on Cardiff

New campaign group No Farmers, No Food will be adding its support to the event, which coincides with World Farmers Day.

Busloads of farmers and members of the rural community are expected to travel from livestock markets in Wales and England to take part.

Mass protest

It follows a mass farmer protest held outside the Senedd on 28 February and a symbolic NFU Cymru display of 5,500 empty wellington boots placed on the steps of the Welsh parliament building on 6 March to represent the projected job losses under the Welsh government proposals for the new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

A spokesperson for Welsh Farmers Unite said: “Farmers in Wales have ongoing concerns about the SFS, bovine TB and NVZ [nitrate vulnerable zone] policies.

“We need to reiterate to Welsh government that we are very concerned about the direction of travel.

“The prolonged wet weather this winter and spring has caused significant sheep losses at lambing. There are fewer calves on the ground and farmers have also struggled to drill spring crops.

“Welsh government farm policies must recognise the real risks to our food security, not only from extreme weather, but also from measures such as the proposed 10% tree cover plan which will take more land out of food production in Wales.”

The expansion of solar farms in the countryside is also taking more land out of food production, the spokesperson added.

“In the Vale of Glamorgan alone there are 2,000 acres of solar panels. Our acres of food-producing land are being lost under development.”

Farmer messages

James Melville, founder of No Farmers, No Food, said: “We are not organising the demo in Cardiff. But if people want to use our logos and express our concerns, we will always support farmers in their endeavours to get their messages out.

“We believe farmers need to amplify their messages and in a way that is working with the authorities and is non-disruptive.”

Welsh Conservatives MS James Evans, Wales’ shadow rural affairs minister, said: “Our farmers are facing pressures on a scale we’ve never seen before – whether that’s from TB or the proposed SFS.

“The vast number of people who protested outside the Senedd in February sent a very clear message to the Welsh government that the current proposals must change.

“It’s about time ministers actually listened to farmers concerns, got back around the table and create policies that works for farmers, and not against them.”

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