23 August 2002

Farm walk-out call

GRASS-ROOTS farmers are set to learn whether it is a good idea to take strike action to highlight problems within Britains agricultural industry.

Despite failing to secure the backing of any major farming unions, Farmers for Action claims that more than one in five producers will back a 24-hour strike today (Fri) to highlight the low prices paid to farmers. The group is asking farmers not to sell any produce in the hope that media coverage will report their plight to the general public.

As part of the protest, Mr Handley said demonstrators would travel to Westminster, the Scottish parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies. At each venue, they will present a hamper of local food with a letter asking the government to explain why, if current policies continue, the public will not be able to buy British produce in 10 years time. &#42

But UK farming unions have refused to support the protest, arguing that it could backfire and damage relationships with buyers leading to long-term financial losses. But Mr Handley, who accused the NFU of ignoring ordinary farmers, said: "If they think the NFU will fight for them then they might as well give up tomorrow."