9 August 2002

PATIENCERUNSOUTASFARMERSFRUSTRATIONBOILSOVERINTOACTION

Everyone has their limit and most British farmers have reached the end of theirs. Years of government mismanagement, supermarket strong-arm tactics and a seemingly indifferent public have driven UK producers to breaking point.

The governments insistence on maintaining the 20-day standstill rule, against some veterinary opinion, is proving too much to bear. Not surprisingly, farmers anger and frustration is beginning to boil over into open revolt. Three very different protests have been planned to register the pain felt by farmers with the public and government.

First, a day of action to hang protest banners near major roads, and possibly to disrupt traffic, is planned for this Monday.

Second, Farmers for Action has requested that farmers withhold all sales of their farm produce on Aug 23. Third, is the Countryside Alliances March for Liberty and Livelihood on Sept 22.

Our support for the March is whole-hearted and unequivocal. The other actions deserve support, too, provided protesters demonstrate within the law and explain their reasons to the public. Alienating a broadly supportive public would achieve nothing more than making enemies of those who could be our stoutest friends.

How much more effective if the organisers of the two latest protests would have co-operated with the Countryside Alliance to organise a week-long protest culminating in the Countryside March. How much more impact that would have had.

The scale of the tragedy in our countryside demands a united response from all those who have its best interests at heart – one voice to represent beleaguered rural Britain.

Meanwhile, we wish all the protesters every success. With an indifferent government and a hostile media they may be farmers best hope of waking the public up to the nightmare that is taking place on British farms.