A wooden coffin bearing the message ‘in memory of Welsh farming’ reflected the mood at a gathering of 3,000 farmers in Carmarthen, the second mass protest against a series of government policies which many fear will force them off the land.

The farmers were venting their anger at the Welsh government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), the environmental land management scheme that will replace direct farm payments.

New water quality regulations, and a bovine TB eradication policy that rules out targeted badger culling to prevent disease transmission are also making some farm businesses unsustainable, farmers insist.

A convoy of dozens of tractors with placards warning ‘No Farmers No Food’’ converged on the martground at Carmarthen.

It was a week after a similar protest at Welshpool attended by 1,000 farmers but as the strength of feeling had increased so did the numbers involved.

Wyn Evans, who farms beef and sheep at Nantbyr Uchaf, near Ystrad Meurig, and who chaired the rally, summed up the general feeling among farmers.

“We can’t take any more of this, we have to make a stand until the Welsh government engages with us,’’ he said.

A motion was passed for the meeting organisers to negotiate directly with the government.

According to Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd (MS) Llŷr Huws Gruffydd, one of several speakers at the event, the industry had never before faced so many different challenges at once.

Businesses in the supply chain spoke of predicted major shortfalls in supply amid projections that the SFS would result in 122,000 fewer livestock units – the equivalent to 122,000 adult cattle or more than 800,000 sheep.

The Kepak processing plant at Merthyr Tydfil processes 800,000 sheep a year.

Prys Morgan, who oversees its livestock procurement, said that without those animals “we don’t have a business’’, one that contributes £200m a year to the Welsh economy.

One farmer who would have to significantly reduce livestock numbers to meet the requirements of SFS, which currently demands 10% tree cover on every farm, is Colin Jones.

“It won’t be worth farming, I am on quite a small income now and I have been on income support,’’ said Mr Jones, who farms beef and sheep near Llandeilo.

He hoped the protest would make the government and Welsh rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths listen to the industry’s concerns.

“If they don’t I think farmers are going to be quite annoyed and what happens next I wouldn’t like to say, but I think there are going to be problems and a lot of confrontation.’’

The Welsh government has said that the aim of the SFS was to “secure food production systems, keep farmers farming the land, safeguard the environment, and address the urgent call of the climate and nature emergency.’’

It encouraged responses to the final SFS consultation by the 7 March deadline.

Ms Griffiths has since invited the presidents of Wales two farming unions, NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales, to what is described as an “urgent’’ meeting to discuss the concerns of Welsh farmers and rural businesses.

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said it was clear that the proposals laid out in the current SFS consultation were causing a “deep sense of anguish and concern’’.

“The current consultation which proposes that the Basic Payment Scheme will be fully phased out in 2029 with no long-term stability payment in its place within the SFS is set against the backdrop of a challenging time for Welsh farmers,’’ he said.

“Agricultural inputs are over a third higher than pre-covid times, water quality regulations have added a huge regulatory and cost burden on farming businesses and bovine TB continues to cause heartache to farming families.’’