More than 100 farmers massed at Tilbury docks this week to protest about imports of Brazilian beef.

Organised by NFU east Midlands livestock chairman Philip Abbot, the farmers were highlighting the fact that Brazilian beef is only cheaper because it does not have to conform to the same environmental and ethical standards as British beef.

Large areas of rainforest were being cleared to make way for cattle ranchers, while recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease threatened the health status of the UK herd.

Mr Abbot said the time had come for the NFU to take a less “softly, softly” approach.