Farmers and pink tractor at Extinction Rebellion demonstration

A group of farmers with a pink tractor have joined the Extinction Rebellion demonstration in London and are demanding urgent action on climate change.

Today (7 October) the group, called Extinction Rebellion Farmers, are on manoeuvres with their biodiesel-powered John Deere 3350, rocking up in the capital as part of a two-week worldwide rally in 60 major cities, including Paris, New York and Delhi.

Inspired by the Extinction Rebellion pink boat, which blocked Oxford Circus in central London for five days during April, a team of farmers attempted to drive a vivid magenta John Deere into the heart of the capital to share positive farming messages with the public.

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However, they were stopped by police before reaching their destination on Horseferry Road, which is near the Defra headquarters in Smith Square, Westminster.

Protesters are blocking roads and transport links as they occupy the city in a drive to get the attention of governments worldwide. More than 100 arrests have been made in connection with the protest.

One of the group’s founders, Welsh sheep farmer Sarah Shuffell, told Farmers Weekly that their aim is to promote the work farmers do to combat climate change, rather than contribute to any disruption caused by the general protest.

The group say they are arable and livestock farmers who are passionate about regenerative agriculture. 

“We’re trying to dispel the view that Extinction Rebellion is just for vegan hippies,” she said. 

“We want to show that farmers do care about the environment and this demo seemed to be a good opportunity to do that. Farmers are already doing fantastic things for the environment and there’s much more we can do.”

Other farmers involved include Hampshire organic water buffalo farmer Dagan James, and North Yorkshire conventional farmer Graham Clark.

“It’s not for fun, we don’t want to get arrested, we don’t want to cause trouble, but the gravity of this situation means we have no choice,” said Mr James.

Climate change means the weather has become less predictable, added family farmer Mr Clark, which is putting extra pressure on farmers.

“I’m rebelling because I want to draw attention to the man-made climate change – there’s an ecological disaster happening at the moment. We’re in the middle of an extinction event that’s as big as the loss of the dinosaurs,” he said.

The group say their mission is to get the public thinking about farmers in a more positive way on the climate change issue by championing the industry and talking about “the power and potential farmers have when it comes to the environment”.

To do this, they want farmers to receive greater public recognition for the work they already do to bring environmental benefits to the countryside and call on the government to provide greater financial support to take this even further.

For more information on the work of Extinction Rebellion Farmers, follow the group’s Twitter account – @XRFarmers.

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