FFA strike gets press but limited support

Farmers For Action chairman David Handley was philosophical as the campaign group’s three-day food strike got under way on Wednesday (2 November).

He drew some satisfaction that the initiative had sparked useful media coverage, but he said he was disappointed that more farmers had not got involved.

Mr Handley told Farmers Weekly that up to 3500 producers had pledged their support for the initiative which ends today (4 November) .

The strike was organised to raise awareness of the differences between farmgate and retail prices (table, above) and to highlight the problems caused by retail dominance.

On the first day (Wednesday, 2 November), it featured on Sky, ITN and the BBC, and in The Independent, The Times and The Scotsman.

“This was an opportunity for farmers who do not want to protest to do something,” said Mr Handley.

“We have listened to our members, who have told us during meetings that we have got to withhold food.

“The strike has got our message out there and a lot of consumers will have seen it.

But the numbers involved are nothing compared with the number of farmers out there.

I’m very disappointed that the farming industry, which is 100,000 strong, is relying on the actions of 3500.”

Mr Handley said he was also disgusted with the attitude of the NFU, which refused to back the strike.

The union said it understood farmers’ frustration, but it did not think a strike would achieve what farmers wanted, which was sustainable prices.

NFU Scotland’s president John Kinnaird was more supportive in that he said the strike highlighted the need for urgent political action to tackle the increasing power of the supermarkets.

“Many farmers are not simply in a position to take part in a strike, as it adds to an already serious financial situation and causes real problems for those committed to supply contracts,” he said.

“Yet, the fact this is even being talked about should be a clear message that the current situation cannot continue.”

Do you agree with the production strike?

If not, what do you suggest? Go to www.fwi.co.uk/talkingpoint