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Grassroots farmers give Cunningham a rough ride

16 February 1998
Grassroots farmers give Cunningham a rough ride

DOZENS of frustrated farmers clashed with police in central London yesterday (Sunday) as farm minister Jack Cunningham left the studios of London Weekend Television.

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Grassroots farmers give Cunningham a rough ride

16 February 1998
Grassroots farmers give Cunningham a rough ride

By Johann Tasker

DOZENS of frustrated farmers clashed with police in central London yesterday (Sunday) as farm minister Jack Cunningham left the studios of London Weekend Television.

About 70 demonstrators blocked the road as Dr Cunninghams car zoomed off following his appearance on the Jonathan Dimbleby programme. Police battled with the farmers to let the car get away in a mass brawl which saw one man arrested and at least one missile thrown.

The farmers want Dr Cunningham to ban imports of foreign meat unless it is produced to the same standards as UK beef and lamb.

Many had travelled from hill farms in Wales and the West Country in the hope they would be able to question Dr Cunningham on live television. But tickets for the programme had already been allocated and most of the farmers were refused entry.

“Its just what we call the dignitaries who are in there asking questions,” said Richard Haddock from Devon. “Cunningham wont even talk to grassroots farmers.”

John Foulkes, a beef farmer from Wales, said many farmers faced ruin unless all beef is labelled with the country of origin.

“We want the same rules for the rest of Europe that we have in the UK,” he said. “Imported beef has a substantially higher risk that British beef.”

Derek Evans, a beef and sheep farmer from Powys, wanted to know why the Government refuses to make country of origin labelling mandatory.

“If Cunningham can bring in the beef-on-the-bone ban overnight, he can do the same for food labelling,” Mr Evans said.

Andrew Ranson, a farmers son from Wiltshire, was one of a handful who did get a ticket for the programme. He asked Dr Cunningham what MAFF was doing to stimulate demand for British beef, but was less than satisfied with the answer.

“He thought I was asking for more subsidies and he fudged the issue,” Mr Ranson said. “European beef is not safe and hes taken no action at all to press that home.”

  • What the papers say, today (16 February) – Click here
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