Thousands of farmers gather for protest outside Senedd in Cardiff

Farmers gathered on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to protest the Welsh Government's proposed subsidy plans. Credit: PA Images

Thousands of farmers gathered outside the Senedd on Wednesday to protest against the Welsh Government's proposed subsidy plans.

It was the latest in a series of protests which have been taking place across Wales over the last month against the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), among other issues affecting the industry.

One of the main concerns amongst farmers is that the plan, in its current form, would effectively mean they have to give up a fifth of their land to help the environment.

Farming leaders say the scheme could result in 5,500 job losses.

  • Farmers arrived in Cardiff on tractors.

Between 10,000 to 20,000 protestors were expected to convene in the capital city to express their frustrations towards the proposed SFS.

However, the figure on Wednesday was estimated to be 3,000 by South Wales Police.

Although not as large as anticipated, the crowd was a record for a protest outside the Senedd. Protesters played 'Yma O Hyd' and held up signs reading 'No Farmers, No Food'.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, shook hands with protesters as they played Yma O Hyd.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, shook hands with protesters from the Senedd steps.

Dozens of tractors carrying protesting farmers arrived in Cardiff Bay this morning for the mass demonstration. Central link was blocked to allow them to park.

They were allowed to enter the Bay safely via an approved route.

ITV Wales journalists counted more than 40 tractors along the link road. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales
Some of the signs brought to the protest. Credit: PA Images

Protestors were then escorted to the Senedd area, where they joined the protest organised by the National Farmers Union and the Farmers Union of Wales.

As well as fears about the amount of land farmers could use, there are also concerns about the Welsh Government’s anti-water pollution scheme, as well as worries TB in cattle continues to be a big problem in Wales.

Parts of the Senedd have been cordoned off. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Those wanting to travel around the city were warned of possible travel disruption, as well as higher volumes of traffic on the roads.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board warned patients travelling to hospitals there could be delays during the day and asked them to allow extra time to make it to their appointments.

In a statement, South Wales Police said: "A planned protest in Cardiff Bay has concluded peacefully with minor disruption to the public."

The force added the A4232 Eastern Bay Link Road, which had been used by tractors and other agricultural vehicles, reopened at 3pm. Superintendent Esyr Jones said officers worked to "respect the right to peaceful protest" while causing "minimum disruption to the public."

According to the police, there was "little disruption or delay" on roads in Cardiff and across south Wales.

Nigel Owens: "I was very privileged to referee the World Cup final in Twickenham - the proudest moment of my career, but today I'm even prouder." Image: PA Images

Former international rugby referee Nigel Owens was one of several people to speak to the crowd from the steps of the Senedd.

Comparing Wednesday's protest to his career, he said: "In 2015, I was very privileged to referee the World Cup final in Twickenham - the proudest moment of my career."But today I'm even prouder to come and speak in front of good, decent people."An honour to be here to speak and to support you today as a fellow farmer."

Using a rugby analogy, Mr Owens told protestors: “There can be no Six Nations game in Cardiff next Saturday against France if there is no referee. There can be no food on the table if there are no farmers."

Farmers left wellington boots on the steps of the Senedd, placing them in front of people speaking to the crowd. Credit: PA Images

Protestors left pairs of wellington boots in front of the speakers. Referencing them, the former international referee said: “In decades time to come, we want to see people in those wellingtons, not empty ones.”

Mr Owens told the crowd he had dreamed about being a farmer since he was eight years old and now has a small freeholding.

Amongst the other speakers was Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth. Speaking on Wednesday, he told the thousands strong crowd: "There is no Wales without rural Wales."

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said governments in Cardiff and in Westminster need to back Welsh farming "at every turn."

Mr ap Iorwerth added: "We cannot have a vibrant rural Wales without its government here in Cardiff, and in Westminster, being willing to be champions for it and backing it at every turn.

"That is a clear message here on the steps of the Senedd today."

Following the speeches, protestors sang the Welsh national anthem.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced claims in the House of Commons on Wednesday he posed for photographs with people who held "extremist conspiracy theories" on climate change.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak referenced the protest in the House of Commons as he was asked a question by Cardiff North MP Anna McMorrin. Credit: PA Images

The Labour MP for Cardiff North, Anna McMorrin, told the Commons: "This last weekendthe Prime Minister posed for photographs with a group that shares extremist conspiracy theories on climate change and campaigns against net zero."

Ms McMorrin asked: "Does the Prime Minister share their views?".

Mr Sunak replied: "That's no way to talk about the Welsh farming community."

Mr Sunak had arrived at the Welsh Conservative Party Conference in Llandudno last week and stopped to speak to a gathering of those from the rural community who were there to ensure he was "on board" with their fight to protect agriculture.

The Welsh government says it is listening to farmers’ concerns and changes can be made.

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