30 March 2000
Farmers strip off outside Downing St

By FWi staff

FARMERS stripped to their waists outside Downing Street as Tony Blair prepared to meet industry leaders to discuss the farming crisis.

The three protestors claimed that the government is ripping the shirts of the back of farmers by failing to devise a long-term policy for agriculture.

The demonstrators delivered a letter calling for a boost in farm prices, but were prevented from presenting their shirts to Number 10.

Shirtless protestor Kelvin Linsley said: “Tony Blair is taking the shirts off our backs, so we felt he should have them, quite literally.”

The protest was organised by Farmers For Action, the militant protest group which has blockaded supermarket depots in protest at low farm prices.

Mr Linsley accused Mr Blair of failing to understand the depth of the farming crisis which has driven thousands of producers out of business.

“This is a stunt, but its aim is to get the message across that many farmers are in dire straits and are having to choose whether to feed their children or animals.”

Mr Linsley, who runs an artificial insemination business in Cricklade, Wiltshire, said FFA had exerted “massive pressure” on the government.

He claimed mass protests and supermarket blockades had also forced the National Farmers Union to fight harder for its members.

“They were somewhat ineffectual in the past but are now working harder, after they got a hobnailed boot up the backside.”

Mr Linsley was joined by Richard Bond and Eric Palmer, who are no strangers to stripping off, having featured in the Meat British Beef calendar.

Further shirtless protests are planned at supermarkets up and down the country in a bid to further highlight the farming crisis.