Seeing the wood for the trees: Farming and habitat in Wales with Gareth Wyn Jones

On 28 January 2024, thousands of Welsh farmers and their supporters gathered outside the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) in Cardiff in order to express their displeasure at the way in which their devolved government is proposing to treat them. Since the UK's departure from the European Union, it has been left to the administrations of each of the four nations to decide their policy on agricultural subsidy. In Wales, the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) demands that participants give over 10% of their land to "habitat to benefit biodiversity" and a further 10% for "tree cover". In other words, farmers are being asked to do the same job with a 20% reduction in land area.

Jones is well aware of the potential for wholesale and beneficial change within and without the industry, and he speaks of a way in which we can "build a better Britain on our bellies": improving soil quality and human health at the same time. He points out that farmers, dependent upon subsidy for decades, are being victimised by blanket policies with no consideration given to the suitability of land for habitat creation or tree planting. 

Gareth articulates the failure of government in managing the one-sided relationship between farmers and the supermarkets. He anticipates a future of enhanced nutrient density and considers the ramifications of removing subsidy altogether. There are hard yards ahead for the Welsh farmers' campaign; one that is yet to be engaged with in any meaningful sense by the very government dictating such policy.

Gareth Wyn Jones farms at Tynllwyfan above Llanfairfechan, and produces material on YouTube and on X.