Farmers for Action rally brings thousands of campaigners...and a few cows to Downing Street

Farmers for Action march in Central London

Farmers for Action march in Central London

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FARMERS want the Government to come up with a new agricultural policy within months to try and save their ailing industry, campaigners have said.

At a rally in Central London today pressure group Farmers for Action brought people together from across the country, and their livestock, for a demonstration before a letter was handed to David Cameron at Downing Street.

Farmers for Action protesters outside Trafalgar Square in London

Farmers for Action protesters outside Trafalgar Square in London

Lead campaigner David Hanley, who was forced to quit dairy farming last year, told the rally that no-one in the industry should be scared to expect to make a profit from providing food for the nation.

"Profit is not a dirty word," he told the crowd before they set off.

His letter asks Mr Cameron if he will continue to pursue with a free-market for British farming, how it will tackle poor quality imports and whether it will give more powers to the supermarket pricing watchdog, the Grocery Code Adjudicator.

He said: "As you know this is not a level playing-field. Products are coming into this country on a daily basis that can be produced here in the UK that do not meet the stringent standards that we are expected to adhere to as British producers.

Sheep and cows join protesters on demonstration in Central London for Farmers for Action.

Sheep and cows join protesters on demonstration in Central London for Farmers for Action.

"We are being told by [Environment Minister] Liz Truss there is a 25 year strategy to be announced in the near future. Unfortunately most of us stood outside in Whitehall would like to know where they would be in three months time.

"It is urgent we get some direction from Government on the way forward."

He was joined on stage by former Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt, who farms in Somerset, who said if supermarkets want to make milk a loss leader they should deal with the financial consequences, and not push that lower price onto producers.

A Yorkshire farmer who attended the rally, agreed with Mr Hanley that Government action is needed now.

Stephen Wyrill, national chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association from Richmond, North Yorkshire

Stephen Wyrill, national chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association from Richmond, North Yorkshire

Stephen Wyrill, from Richmond, wants Environment Secretary Liz Truss' 25 year farming plan due out later this year to be brought forward, and in the meantime a plan is needed for the next 25 months.

He said: "It's difficult times that we are facing and farmers across the country no matter what sector they are in, they are suffering.

"It's a good letter that's been handed over and we need to get some answers. At the moment it's a lot of talk and not enough action."

Joining demonstrators on the march were two cows draped with Union Jacks and two sheep, who brought Trafalgar Square and Whitehall to a standstill with passers-by taking photos.

Hand-painted placards made by demonstrators marching in Central London.

Hand-painted placards made by demonstrators marching in Central London.

Whistles, horns and shouts accompanied those marching, with some dressing up in cow suits for the occasion. British produce bought from a market at 3am this morning was also paraded through the centre of London in a vintage van, and will be donated to feed the homeless through charity Food for All.

Jackie Buckley, 67, from Pontefract, who owns G.M Cressey & Son said her farm has been in the family for 100 years, but with the price of wheat now at £100 a tonne, she is struggling to see a positive future for the business.

She was joined on the march by her husband Jim, 73, and the pair had both taken part in the Liberty and Livelihood march in 2002.

She said: "We are arable farmers so the price of our wheat was £140 a tonne and is now falling to £100 a tonne. The letter is exactly right and I'm behind it. We are losing money and we're having to rely on our pensions. It does make it harder.

Jim added: "All we ask for is a level playing field. We're not after any favours, it's a difficult time."

Protesters stop outside Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square in Central London.

Protesters stop outside Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square in Central London.

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