11 June 1999
Farmers blockade Felixstowe docks
by Peter Crichton
MORE than 250 angry farmers blockaded Felixstowe docks last night, claiming that some Belgian pigmeat imports may be contaminated with dioxin.
Farmers from across East Anglia converged on the port and succeeded in shutting it for more than two hours.
The farmers were protesting against pigmeat imports which may have been fed on animal feed contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical dioxin.
Their action caused huge traffic tailbacks and caused major disruption to the countrys major container terminal.
The port blockade was organised by the grass-roots farmers organisation called the British Pig Industry Support Group.
Pig farmer Ian Campbell, the BPISGs East Anglian chairman, said the purpose of the protest was to draw attention to the food safety issues raised by pigmeat imports.
Mr Campbell claimed that Belgian health Minister Luc Van den Bossche had admitted there were no controls whatsoever on the raw materials used in animal feed.
British pig farmers are expected to bring further pressure on domestic retailers and caterers to avoid all imported pigmeat that does not match UK standards.
The BPISG is calling on agriculture minister Nick Brown to ban all food imports not produced to the high standards in place in the UK.
However, it is likely that any such move by Whitehall would be challenged by other European countries at the highest level in Brussels.