A straw poll of Farmers Weekly readers suggests almost two-thirds of farmers are in favour of staging protests in the UK.
Over 100 farmers have already answered the short survey which is currently being hosted on Farmers Weekly’s website.
To date, 65% of respondents have said they would be in favour of protests being staged in the UK as a way of raising awareness of the impact of low prices and forcing supermarkets and government to take action.
However, 35% have said they are firmly against direction action, largely because of worries that protests could alienate the public and result in a public backlash.
The poll, which is still open, comes in the wake of comments from both the NFU and Farmers For Action that protests like the one staged on the A50 last week will not help farmers’ cause.
But one farmer, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Direct action is now the only tool left for farmers to use. Sadly the NFU has no fight in it. Although farmers won’t admit it, they are feeling very scared at the moment. The banks can knock on their doors at any moment.”
Another dairy farmer added: “Protests do show the public the extent of the anger felt in the industry and nothing else does that. It also brings farmers, workers and ancillary industries together. It is actually doing something rather than words and waffle.”
Mixed farmer Bill Lewis said: “It is beginning to look like it could be the last resort for many. Lamb and arable protests should be conducted and receive coverage just as much as the dairy ones are.”
But beef and sheep farmer Rob Halliday argued that the farming community risked alienating the public at a time lots of sectors were under pressure.
“We trade in a world market; I cannot see that protesting about domestic pricing helps. That said, supermarket power and the percentage of market share returned to the farm gate does need addressing.”
Another respondent, this time a dairy farmer, agreed that protests were not the right way forward. “We’re alienating the very people who support us. If we educate them and encourage them to put pressure on retailers we’re on to a winner. If they hate us we’re not going to get their support.
A sheep farmer from Northumberland said he was worried that staging protests similar to the ones in France would cause serious upset.
“Families who buy cheap meat and dairy from supermarkets are not going to start buying British after they’ve had their day ruined. It can cause accidents and huge amounts of stress.”
* Complete the survey on farmer protests now.