THOUSANDS of wellies were placed at the steps of the Senedd yesterday (March 6) as part of a “poignant” protest against Welsh Government plans.

The display, organised by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), comes a week after thousands of farmers rallied in Cardiff Bay against the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

Each of the 5,500 pairs represents a job that could be lost if there is a 100 per cent take-up of the scheme. All boots will be donated to charities in Africa, the NFU said.

The new subsidy system would require farmers to prove they have earmarked 10 per cent of their land for tree coverage and another 10 per cent for wildlife habitat.

A consultation on the plans closes today, March 7. The government says it expects changes to be made following an analysis of responses.

Samuel Kurtz, the Welsh Conservative shadow rural affairs minister, “challenged” the first minister and other Senedd members to see the display without being moved.

“The Senedd steps have seen a number of protests and displays over the years but I would argue none have been as poignant and powerful as the display of 5,500 empty wellies,” he said.

“Empty wellies representing the empty farms and empty communities that will be seen the length and breadth of rural Wales if the SFS goes ahead without some serious and wholesale changes.”


The future generations commissioner said the dispute over the SFS should be resolved “swiftly”.

The commissioner, Derek Walker, was appointed by a cross-party group in March last year to act as an adviser for public bodies and "guardian" for future generations.

South Wales Argus: Future generations commissioner Derek Walker said the dispute should be resolved 'swiftly'Future generations commissioner Derek Walker said the dispute should be resolved 'swiftly' (Image: Supplied)

He said: “Improving our nation’s health and acting on the nature and climate emergencies can’t wait - Welsh Government should act swiftly on the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

“Resolving the SFS should be part of a long-term, national food strategy, involving the farming community, to prepare Wales for future changes that pose a threat to all of us putting food on our tables.”

READ MORE: Tory MP has axe to grind with 'hypocritical' tree quota for Welsh farms

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Farming is very important both to Wales and to our economy and we want a successful future for Welsh farming.

“The proposed scheme requirement for 10% tree cover includes existing broadleaf and coniferous woodlands, as well as individual trees scattered throughout fields and hedgerows.

“We are not proposing farmers plant an additional 10% over and above the trees they already have.”