8 October 1999

Devon set for French war

DEVON NFU leaders Richard Haddock, Donald Arscott and David Hill responded vigorously to the French governments decision not to allow British beef into or transported through France.

They threatened first to stop all lorries carrying French goods entering Plymouth docks on Friday. When that French ferry was cancelled they promised to block French goods entering on next Monday evenings ferry if the French had not lifted their ban on British beef.

Farm minister Nick Brown set the tone while in Devon on Monday to speak at a seminar, saying he would personally be boycotting French goods.

But Scottish NFU president Jim Walker has refused to support anti-French protests following that countrys decision to continue its ban on imports of British beef.

"I think anti-French protests at English docks by farmers is counter-productive. Of course we condemn the French action but it remains a major export market for our lamb and we must be aware that any English protest at the ports could rebound on them if the French retaliate," said Mr Walker.

He would not be joining UK farm minister Nick Brown and NFU president Ben Gill in a boycott of French wine and cheese. "I prefer beer and Scottish cheddar anyway," said Mr Walker.