29 September 2000

Farmers determined to market own cause

FARMERS showed the government that they are fighting to help themselves by staging a farmers market on the first day of the Labour Party conference.

NFU president Ben Gill explained the purpose of the event was to show that farmers were committed to developing their marketing.

"It demonstrates to the public – and the government – that farmers are not taking the current crisis lying down.

"They are fighting for their survival in a host of ways," he said.

But he added that farmers needed the government to do their bit as well, by working in partnership to tackle the problems of red tape and the strength of the £.

Farm minister Nick Brown, who opened the event, donned a British Farm Standard sweatshirt before touring the market, spending over an hour talking to producers.

Elizabeth Field of Slash Farm in Arundel, West Sussex, told the minister that he and his colleagues needed to try a bit harder to help.

"It was always known years ago that under a Labour government agriculture did better," she told farmers weekly afterwards. "But they have killed that completely.

"They are not interested in the rural areas, they are not interested in rural life."

Farm minister Nick Brown at the farmers market.