Mark Drakeford Greeted by Angry Farmers, Boos and Jeering in Rhyl and Anglesey Protests

Written by Lisa Baker, Editor

First Minister Mark Drakeford was booed and jeered by angry crowds in two separate visits to North Wales yesterday.

In visits to Anglesey and Rhyl the first minister was met with boos and crowds pushing and shoving during visits to Anglesey and Rhyl.  The protests follow earlier events across Wales  – about 100 tractors and farm vehicles took part in a go-slow protest through Newtown, Powys, before arriving at a hustings at the town’s football club, and last week 3,000 farmers and supporters gathered at the  Carmarthen showground in Nantyci, bringing in a coffin bearing the words “RIP Welsh Farming.”  Further events are planned, including an event this Saturday in Swansea.

Welsh international referee and cattle farmer Nigel Owens told The Times that he would be prepared to drive his tractor along the M4 to the Senedd in Cardiff Bay in protest at the plans.

In Rhyl, where Mark Drakeford was scheduled to open a £12M  Engineering Centre at Coleg Llandrillo, the First Minister was greeted by a convoy of more than 70 tractors and large crowds of protestors angry at the Welsh Government’s post-Brexit farm subsidy scheme, set to come into force next year.  A petition to scrap the new scheme has already amassed over 13,000 signatures.


Video kindly shared with permission of Aaran Lennox


In order to be eligible for the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which is will replace EU farming subsidies following Brexit, farmers will have to commit to planting trees on 10% of their land and allocate another 10% for wildlife habitats.

The tree planting clause is particularly controversial, with evidence to support that tree planting schemes can in some circumstances actually increase carbon emissions – and if not done correctly, can also damage biodiversity.   The policy was described by Jeremy Clarkson writing on X as ‘completely daft’.

The controversial presenter, who owns a farm in the Cotswolds, said:

“I’m trying to see the Welsh farming policy from the government’s point of view. And I just can’t. It’s completely daft.” 

He later added:

“The defence mounted by Mr Drakeford over his farming policy in Wales makes no sense. Like him, I’m not a farmer but I try to learn about it by listening to people who are. He should do the same.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson has previously said: “The minister regularly meets with stakeholders, including the farming unions. A meeting has been scheduled to discuss the roadshows organised by the Welsh Government and both unions regarding the SFS consultation, once they have been completed. The SFS aims to secure food production systems, keep farmers farming the land, safeguard the environment, and address the urgent call of the climate and nature emergency.

“We have run an extensive co-design exercise in developing the SFS and we thank the hundreds of farmers who have been involved. The final consultation on the scheme is still open and we encourage everyone to reply with their views by March 7. No final decision will be taken on the scheme until after the consultation has taken place, and we will listen carefully to all views.”


The latest protests from farmers follow Wales-wide protests over another controversial policy, the introduction of the 20mph speed limit which has proved so unpopular that a petition to scrap the scheme has received over 469,000 signatures on the Senedd Petitions Website and a separate protest group on Facebook has 89,000 members.

The Petitioner, M. Baker, said: “We are seeing lots of half-baked schemes being brought into place which are not, in my view,  sufficiently supported by evidence and which will cause harm and inconvenience to our traditional way of life.  The expenses to bring these schemes in comes out of the public purse, not Mark Drakeford’s pocket, and before tackling global issues like climate change, perhaps they could start in Wales, which should be their primary concern, and use the funds being diverted to vanity projects and fix Wales’ broken NHS.  It’s not like it isn’t desperately needed.”

The First Minister has already announced his resignation and will step down in March.  Whichever Labour MS is elected as the new leader will have their work cut out from day one.


Image: stock image