23 June 2000
Militants shred Gill’s image and logo

By FWi staff

BEN GILL and the new farm standards logo bore the brunt of militant farmers anger in a city centre demonstration to highlight the crisis in the industry.

Around 400 members of the Farmers For Action group with 20 tractors and a self-propelled forage harvester descended on Manchester on Thursday (22 June) night.

An effigy of the National Farmers Union president and a replica of the unions tractor logo were put through the harvester which shredded them into a trailer.

FFA has said the NFU is out of touch with grassroots support and has called for it to reform its constitution to elect its president by a one-member-one-vote system.

The group says new NFU British Food Standard logo, which denotes hygiene, welfare and environment standards, misleads consumers as it could be used by foreign producers meeting UK standards.

Protesters carried banners bearing the FFAs answer to the tractor logo – a Union jack with knife and fork alongside.

But the NFU says all retailers carrying British Farm Standard lines have individually said to suppliers they only want the logo applied to British products.

FFA wants a one-day meeting with the NFU to thrash out the industrys problems and emerge from that meeting with a common goal.

Organiser Derek Mead said the NFU was considering this request.

The demonstrators also sought to send a strong message to Tony Blair warning that the countryside faces ruin unless action is taken.

The worst slump in farming since the 1930s, together with a withdrawal of rural services, could turn villages into ghost communities, says FFA.

After several hours in Manchester city centre, the protestors went to Wisemans Dairy and imposed a blockade until a senior manager agreed to arrange a high-level meeting.

FFA want to force the 5p a pint on supermarket retail milk prices up through the system, which would average at 3p a pint across the board.