Posted: Tue 5th Mar 2024

Farmers’ convoy protests against Welsh Government reforms on A494 in Deeside

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Farmers formed a go-slow convoy along the A55 and A494 in Flintshire this afternoon in a protest over Welsh government reforms.

The slow-moving convoy of around two dozen farmers’ vehicles caused a long tailback as it moved towards Deeside.

The vehicles, which were escorted along the carriageway by North Wales Police, reached Queensferry just after 1.15pm.

Publicly accessible images from traffic cameras situated along the A494, which are operated by Traffic Wales, the Welsh government traffic information service, appeared to have been turned off ahead of the protest.

The protest follows last week’s demonstration when thousands of farmers alongside employees from associated sectors converged on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay last week (28 February), to protest against the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) and the management of bovine TB.

The rally highlighted the deep-seated concerns within the agricultural community over current policies they believe threaten the livelihoods of many in Wales.

The Welsh government’s new farm subsidy plans require farmers to allow 10% of their land to be used for trees and 10% for wildlife habitat.

The scheme, which is designed to fight climate change, could lead to a 10.8% reduction in livestock numbers and an 11 per cent loss in labour on farms, according to the Welsh government analysis.

Since the Cardiff Bay rally, the Senedd proceeded to debate and vote down two motions on policies relating to SFS and bovine TB.

The Welsh Conservatives motion called on the Welsh Government to scrap the current sustainable farming scheme proposals and to re-engage with the farming sector to develop a new scheme that has the support of the farming community.

The second motion on bovine TB, tabled by Plaid Cymru, called on the Welsh Government to urgently undertake a long-term evaluation and appraisal of current cattle controls to determine their relative effectiveness in preventing and controlling disease transmission.

Additionally, the motion also asked for immediate changes to on-farm slaughter policy and establish policies which reflect wildlife as a source of infection.

Speaking in response to the debates, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “I am proud to say that the agricultural community stood in unity on the steps of the Senedd last week to express the strength of feeling towards the current situation and the future direction of agricultural policy in Wales.

“We heard many speakers say, including Senedd Members, how at difficult times we must stand together in unity. However, despite our presence and the very real frustrations of the farming community that have been demonstrated by events right across Wales over recent weeks, the Senedd votes reflected party political priorities rather than real consideration of the facts.

“This is history repeating itself since two years ago Plaid Cymru’s motion to annul the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ regulations was lost by 30 votes to 27 despite the regulations repeatedly being referred to ‘as a hammer to crack a nut.’”

Following recent meetings with both farming unions and other farming representatives, the First Minister and Minister for Rural Affairs issued a joint statement outlining the next steps now being considered to the SFS. There were also some comments made by the Government around the issue of bovine TB and the ‘NVZ’ regulations but no clear way forward has emerged on either of these two issues.

“While it’s positive to see that at least some steps are now being considered with the SFS, it is truly disheartening to think it has taken thousands of us standing on the steps of the Senedd for the Welsh Government to acknowledge the severity of the situation and issue a rather bland statement which doesn’t come close to addressing our concerns.

“As a professional farming union, with members’ interests at our core, we have a duty to work with both the government in power and the opposition parties to drive things forward. Our job will continue: ensuring that Wales’ agricultural sector and our family farms receive the consideration and respect they deserve,” added Mr. Rickman.

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