20 October 1999
Beef protests go down the food chain

WEST Country farmers have vowed to extend their protests against the French ban on British beef and say these will not be publicised in advance.

Targets will include food processors as well as supermarkets and ports.

Producers also warn they will seek to stop cheap imports produced to welfare standards illegal in the UK, if the government does not act.

This comes after farmers last night tried to break down the gates of Poole Harbour, Dorset, after waiting in vain to lobby French lorry drivers.

Around 200 producers rushed the gates after being told a lorry which had made the journey from Cherbourg would not be leaving.

Protesters had already charged the first lorry to emerge from the docks, but withdrew after pleas from organisers and warnings from police.

Organisers said authorities then reneged on their promise to allow farmers to ask drivers about their cargoes and destinations.

Frustrated demonstrators dashed 300yds towards the dock entrance gates to try and enter the lorry parking area, but were stopped by a barrier of more than 40 police officers.

Dorset police said one officer was overcome by the weight of the crush.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly at the scene, David Williams, chairman of the NFU Livestock Committee said: “We are extremely angry about the way weve been treated by the French government.

“We insist they lift the ban immediately. And we expect our own government to fight for us.”

Pig industry spokesman Robert Lasseter called on the government to “show some balls, as the French government has done over British beef .

“Start banning imports of pigmeat produced to standards that are illegal in the UK.”

It is believed that the lorries on the Cherbourg ferry contained corned beef and bananas.