15 September 1999
Farmers to rally on Browns patch
By FWi staff
HUNDREDS of farmers are set take their protests to agriculture minister Nick Browns back yard next week during a march through Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The marchers will pass through the city — which is Nick Browns home town and contains his constituency — next Friday morning.
Farmers, their families and rural business representatives are expected to show their desperation at the critical state of Britains farming industry.
A march through the Yorkshire town of Northallerton the previous day will take farmers to the constituency of opposition leader William Hague.
The marches, organised by the north-east branch of the National Farmers Union, will come just days before a national farmers rally at the Labour Party Conference.
Richard Ellison, NFU north-east regional director, said the protests were organised in support of thousands of farmers expected in Bournemouth on 27 September.
Many farmers in the north-east feel that Bournemouth is too far away but wanted to demonstrate the depth of feeling in the farming industry.
“There isnt a farm in the north east which cannot spare someone to attend one of the marches,” said Richard Betton, a hill farmer from Harwood in Teesdale.
“Time is running out for the industry. It is time everyone stood up and was counted. These will be marches motivated by desperation and done with dignity.”
Ben Gill, NFU president, has agreed to address the marchers who fear that the government is not serious about a future for agriculture in the UK
Among other demands, the NFU is calling for the urgent implementation of a scheme to assist farmers unable to sell sheep or calves.
A cull ewe scheme, which would take hundreds of thousands of worthless sheep off the market, has put before the European Commission in Brussels.
Doubts have been raised over whether such a scheme, proposed by the UK government this week, would be in contravention of European Union rules.
But the plan, devised by Scottish rural affairs minister Ross Finnie, is likely to be agreed by Brussels, according to The Herald newspaper today.
Mr Finnie is “on the brink of clinching a deal… to give beleaguered sheep farmers emergency help,” claims the paper.
Kate Timms, under-secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said yesterday that it could be extremely difficult to convince the commission to accept the ewe scheme.