Floats and market to greet Labour

1 September 2000

Floats and market to greet Labour

By FWi staff

LABOUR MPs are likely to greeted by a different sort of rural protest when they gather for their annual party conference in Brighton later this month.

The majority of plans for demonstrations by the countryside and farming campaigners are still to be finalised.

But early indications are that there will be no repeat of last years rally which saw thousands of protesters descend on Bournemouth to express their concern at the governments handling of rural issues.

The Countryside Alliance has ruled out any repeat of its protest which last year mobilised around 16,000 of its supporters.

This year the organisation plans to have series of floats travelling through Brighton.

A different rural issue will be highlighted by a different float each day during a procession of 1500 people along the sea-front.

Farming would be the one highlighted on Monday September 25 — the first day of the conference.

“This will enable us to repay some of the debt we owe to the farming community for the support it has shown us in the past,” explained an alliance briefing document.

After a series of meetings this week, the NFU confirmed that it had no plans to repeat last years rally which saw about 4000 disgruntled farmers march through Bournemouth.

Instead, the union has invited MPs and other Labour delegates to a farmers market on the eve of the conference.

A union spokeswoman said: “The idea is to send a positive message to government and to show how farmers are using their initiative to fight back.

It will also highlight the high quality of British food and promote the British Farm Standard.”

South west farmer Richard Haddock said the NFUs farmers market would be good PR, but he, on behalf of south west farmers, wanted to do something more hard hitting.

He wants to take two big, blown-up pictures — one of a farm now and one showing how the land would decline in five years if it was no longer a working farm.

Mr Haddock believes this will effectively show what will happen if something is not done about the plight of the industry.

He would then like to invite MPs to meet all the people that rely on a farm, both up and down the chain, so they could explain in person the importance of the business.

Malcolm Baxter, who organised the high-profile pig vigil outside Houses of Commons earlier this year, promised action if the government failed to adequately compensate farmers affected by the swine fever outbreak.

The announcement of compensation well below producers expectations, makes it more likely that angry pig farmers may converge on Brighton.

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