15 September 2000
Protest farmers issue 60-day deadline

By FW reporters

FARMERS have pledged more protests against high fuel taxes unless the government moves to reduce fuel tax within 60 days.

A steadily growing trickle of tankers is leaving various depots and refineries. Hauliers and truckers have gradually wound down their protests.

But Dave Handley, chairman of the Farmers For Action group which spearheaded the blockades, insisted: The protests will go on.

Mr Handley told Farmers Weekly: We will continue as long as the rest of the country continues. We will not give up.

The protests will go on until we get a meeting with senior government ministers and then fuel price that is competitive with mainland Europe.

Pressure mounted for the protests to end as the crisis began to bite with farmers as well as ordinary consumers feeling the brunt of the shortages.

The supply trade association UKASTA said it was not enough that Farmers for Action offered access to two depots to lorry drivers delivering animal feed.

Nevertheless arable growers have backed more protests, even though they need fuel to run combine harvesters and dry their crops once they are stored.

Dairy farmers are also largely supportive, although fuel shortages threaten to leave companies without enough diesel for their tanker lorries which collect milk.

Simon Caunt, director of Grantham-based Chandlers Oil and Gas, delivered 750,000 litres of diesel this week compared to 2m litres when fuel flows freely.

He has lost 5000 and been forced to ration supplies to farmers.

Rationing did not go down well with customers worried about transporting feed and milk but was a price worth paying, said Mr Caunt.

He added: I am supporting the protestors who are working on our behalf. I am more keen than anyone to get this tax shifted.