Rishi Sunak has offered his support to protesting farmers in Wales.

Farmers across Wales have objected to the Welsh Labour government’s proposals to change farming subsidies to require more land to be set aside for environmental schemes.

The sustainable farming scheme (SFS), which is currently under consultation, would require 10% of a farmer’s land to be covered in trees and the same amount again set aside for wildlife habitat.

The Labour government in the Senedd insists the change is necessary to fight climate change but could be adjusted by the end of the consultation.

Mr Sunak met campaigners outside the Welsh Conservative Conference in Llandudno, where he offered his support for their cause, telling them he was “sorry for what you are going through”.

He said: “We’re going to do everything we can because we’ve got your back.”

Welsh Conservatives Conference 2024
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a Q&A with Joanna Swash, group CEO of Moneypenny, at the Welsh Conservatives Conference 2024, at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, North Wales (Peter Byrne/PA)

Taking questions after his speech at the conference, Mr Sunak also said there was “visceral anger” among the farming community in Wales.

“That anger is palpable, and they have every right to be angry,” he said.

“By the Welsh government’s own assessment, their ideas are going to lead to thousands of job losses, reduce our food production and food security and destroy farm incomes.

“It just demonstrates again why their plans are the wrong ones and the wrong ones, particularly, for rural Wales.

“There are farmers outside here today and they are expressing that anger and we will do everything we can, and you guys are doing a great job of highlighting that this is the reality of Labour in power.”

Farmers gathered outside the venue to state their feelings.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a campaigning farmer and YouTuber with more than two million subscribers, said the Welsh Labour government was not listening.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “We are here to state our frustrations with the Welsh Labour government for not listening to us.

Welsh Conservatives Conference 2024
Gareth Wyn Jones, a hill farmer from Conwy, outside the Venue Cymru in Llandudno, North Wales (George Thompson/PA)

“The 20% SFS, we need that to be stopped.

“If you take 20% of the farmer’s food production, it is 20% less crops, 20% less meat, less sheep, beef, everything comes down to that.

“That knocks on for your hauliers, your auctioneers, agricultural wholesalers, feed merchants, everything will be lost, it’s taking out of the whole rural economy.”

Mr Wyn Jones said some farms would be able to cope with the change, but every farmer he knew “was on the other side”.

“Every single person in this country is going to need the farmer once, twice, or three times every day,” he said.

“And they need to remember it because I think the Cardiff elite or the Welsh Labour government have forgotten how important farming and the farming industry is.

“What Thatcher did to the coal mines is what Drakeford and Welsh Labour are doing to the farming industry.”

Welsh Conservatives Conference 2024
Einion Owen a farmer from north Wales, outside the Venue Cymru in Llandudno, North Wales where Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke at the Welsh Conservatives Conference 2024.

Einion Owen, a farmer from north Wales, said he had come along because he felt strongly about the cause.

“It’s about the future, for our kids, our farms, our industry, our way of life.

“We farmers are passionate about food and food is already facing pressure from inflation.

“This is land that has been worked hard over hundreds of years to turn into productive land, so we don’t have to put food on a boat to bring it from Brazil or Argentina. Food grown locally and eaten locally.

“I’m all for helping the environment, I’m already reducing my fertiliser usage but to take away more of our land it would have a detrimental impact on our business.”