MONMOUTHSHIRE’S agricultural community has united in anger at a meeting to discuss the future of farming in Wales amid intensifying unrest against Welsh Government policy plans.

Over 60 farmers packed the Hogs Head barn at Great Treadam on Saturday afternoon (17 February) where they vented frustration to David Davies MP and Peter Fox MS about “threats” to their livelihoods and future generations.

Fury is being directed at the Labour Welsh Government over its post-Brexit Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) – due to replace the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) style of payments to farmers in 2025.

Every farm in Wales is being asked to reduce working land, instead having 10 per cent tree cover and 10 per cent habitat creation to qualify for public funding, in a move many are warning will risk vital food production.

Other “anti-farming” policies causing concern are Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) regulations on storing and spreading manure and slurry, and the “failure” of Welsh Government to tackle bovine TB.

Cross Ash farmer and community councillor Andrew Phillips chaired the meeting, which was also attended by local representatives from NFU Cymru and Gwent YFC.

Monmouth MP Mr Davies said Welsh farmers are being treated with “utter contempt”, describing the Sustainable Farming Scheme as “disastrous”.

“The frustration and anger that was demonstrated in Monmouthshire is being felt right across Wales,” he said.

“Farmers are absolutely raging at these proposals and understandably so. On the one hand the Labour Welsh Government is bleating about the need to grow more food and reduce food miles, yet ministers are quite content to tear up 20 per cent of farming land and take it out of food production for tree planting and wildlife habitation.

“In addition to that, farmers will have to follow 17 rules requiring various levels of bureaucracy. It’s the usual top-down Labour approach. In fact, the cynic in me might even say this is part of a ploy by Welsh ministers to discourage farmers from taking part in the scheme so they can cut payment support and save money.

“Young farmers Jack and Tom from Gwent YFC asked how young people are ever going to get into farming in Wales if this is how they are treated. While another farmer said it was patronising and, quite frankly an insult, for the Welsh Government to demand they spend time on continuous professional development when they know the job inside out and don’t need to be told how to do it better by people working in an office in Cardiff Bay.

Mr Davies said protecting the environment is important, but not at the “expense of driving Welsh farmers out of business” and relying on food imports.

“The future of the Welsh farming industry is at stake and unless the Labour Welsh Government drops its Sustainable Farming Scheme, this is the final straw that could push countless Welsh farms off a cliff edge,” he added.

Monmouth MS Peter Fox said Welsh farmers are facing a “perfect storm” of challenges.

He said: “The proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme won’t sustain farming. It will do the opposite and drive farmers out. It is unmanageable and doesn’t make sense in many areas.

“The anger and frustration that the farming community is feeling is entirely understandable recognising the detrimental agricultural policies by successive Welsh Labour governments and their unworkable expectations. Add this on top of NVZ regulations and decades of Labour’s inaction in dealing with TB and we can see a perfect storm for farmers.

“It has become ever clearer that the Labour government in Cardiff Bay is becoming more and more out of touch with rural communities across Wales and it is utterly embarrassing.

“I hope Labour ministers wake up and listen to our farmers and farming unions and start working with them, not against them. The future of our Welsh farming industry and our food security is at stake here.”

The Welsh Government’s public consultation on the SFS closes on 7 March 2024 and comments can be submitted at