19 October 1999
Farmers shut down French market

By FWi staff

A LOCAL council has abandoned plans for a town-centre French market after disgruntled farmers threatened to picket the event in protest.

The Cheshire town of Crewe was due to host the market on 11 November in conjunction with retailers from the towns French twin, Macon.

But local farmers, angry at Frances continuing ban on British beef, warned councillors they would picket the market if it went ahead.

In response, councillors agreed to call off the market until the French government lifted its ban and allowed sales of British beef in France.

Ken Oliver, chairman of Cheshire National Farmers Union, said common sense had prevailed in reaching the decision to cancel the market.

“The livelihoods of our farmers are being threatened by the political action of the French government,” he said.

Peter Kent, leader of Crewe and Nantwich Council, accepted that “feelings were running high locally” and suggested local farmers should arrange another market.

Meanwhile, farmers in the south of England are preparing to picket a French market in Alton, Hampshire, on Friday (22 October).

Protestors plan to hand out British beef butties to French traders in the towns market square while appealing to shoppers to boycott French produce.

William White, senior policy advisor for the NFU in the south-east, said the union would back any legal attempt by to force France to accept British beef.

“British beef is now subject to the strictest safety measures that have been approved by the European Union and fair trading rules must be upheld,” he said.

In a similar demonstration on the same day at Gravesends French market in Kent, British growers will give away English apples to local shoppers.

Local NFU representative, Clive Wenham, said: “Were using it as an opportunity to promote quality British food … and show solidarity with the towns resident traders.”

Last week, the supermarket chain Budgens announced it was withdrawing all French apples from its shelves and replacing them with English varieties.

Later today, hundreds of farmers are expected to gather at Poole protest in a demonstration against imports of French produce arriving in the country.