NFU Cymru members have created a symbolic display of 5,500 pairs of wellies on the steps of the Senedd to represent the jobs forecasted to be lost through Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals.

The stark visual display was put together by farmers at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday , March 6, the eve of the closing of Welsh Government’s ‘Keeping Farmers Farming’ Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation. Each of the 5,500 wellingtons outside the Senedd building represents an agricultural job that is projected to be lost based on 100% take up of the scheme, as based on figures from Welsh Government’s own impact assessment.

Farmers united to gather 5,500 pairs of wellingtons to bring the display to life. Boots provided will be donated to charities in Africa.

NFU Cymru member and display organiser Paul Williams said: “Seeing these 5,500 wellies lined up on the steps of the Senedd is an emphatic depiction of the potential jobs that will be lost to Welsh agriculture if these proposals go ahead in their current guise. 

Wellies/ senedd
Wellies at the Senedd (Picture from NFU Cymru) (NFU Cymru)

“What makes our industry so special is the people and families for whom it's more than just a job. We have wellies of all sizes and colours on display, representing those who have farmed for decades and whose families have farmed our land for generations, as well as those with smaller feet but big ambitions for a future in our industry when they are older. The MSs who have looked out on the display today from the Senedd must understand what is at stake and commit to ensuring the final Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals don’t harm Welsh businesses and communities.”

Fellow organiser Llŷr Jones said: “The support we’ve had from the wider Welsh agricultural community to collect these wellies has been incredible. We are indebted to the help we’ve received from businesses across the supply chain who have assisted us to make this idea a reality. This project has really captured the unity that exists within our industry, despite the ongoing challenges and uncertainty affecting everyone in rural Wales. Welsh farmers are incredibly proud of the role they play for this country. We need Welsh Government to support our ambitions and help this fantastic industry to continue to prosper.”

NFU Cymru has long warned of the impacts of aspects of the proposals contained within the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) scheme outline – not least the 10% tree planting and habitat requirements – on the sector’s productivity and viability.

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “Bringing this impressive project together has been an outstanding achievement by our members. What they have achieved is an emotional and impactful reminder of why NFU Cymru has continued to lobby so vigorously for so long against multiple areas of the consultation proposals. We simply cannot see government move forward with a scheme that puts 5,500 Welsh farming jobs in jeopardy, never mind the additional knock-on this will have to further jobs in the food supply chain – the impact of which has not been assessed – and our rural communities.

“Farmers across Wales have made their voices heard in a variety of ways during the Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation period. Welsh Government must show that it has listened by undertaking a major overhaul of the scheme to avoid the shocking scenario highlighted by its own modelling.”

Senedd Member. Russell George, who went to speak to farmers at the event said:"The Senedd steps have seen a number of protests and displays over the years, but I would argue that none have been as poignant and powerful as the display of 5,500 empty wellies.