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Welsh First Minister has stoked tensions, say farmers

Protesters gathered in Cardiff to express their concerns to the Welsh government, following weeks tractor demonstrations across Wales (News, 21 February). Several speakers addressed the crowd at the Senedd, including the party leaders from the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru. No Labour politicians spoke. 

The protest focused on policies relating to Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, a lack of proper action to eradicate bovine tuberculosis and the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) — the post-Brexit replacement for farming payments in Wales. 

Farmer and television personality Gareth Wyn Jones, who addressed the protesters, told Shooting Times: “The votes in the Senedd that followed the protests regarding bovine TB and the Sustainable Farming Scheme had disappointing outcomes and I was saddened that the Welsh Labour Party were the only party who didn’t send a representative to speak to us. 

“I feel that Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has further stoked tensions between Labour and the countryside by blaming farmers who voted Brexit for the situation we find ourselves in now,” he added. 

In a further — and rather poignant — protest by the farming community, some 5,500 empty wellies were placed outside the Senedd building last week.