11 January 2001
NFU backs Countryside March
By Donald MacPhail
THE National Farmers Union has urged its members to line up behind the second Countryside March through London.
At a meeting of the NFUs governing body, NFU Council, the organisation confirmed its firm support for the event.
Leaders say the protest taking place on 18 March will provide a show of strength from the whole of rural Britain.
They expressed hopes that the march will highlight the critical state of the farming industry, as well as other rural issues such as the proposed ban on hunting.
NFU President Ben Gill said: “We enter an election year with the lowest farm incomes and highest job losses in living memory.
“There has never been a more significant time to fight for the survival of the countryside, its people and its many activities and traditions.”
He said action was needed against “oppressive” legislation which could threaten yet more losses of jobs in the countryside.
“And we are encouraging as many farmers as possible to attend the march to highlight all of these issues.”
A spokeswoman for the Countryside Alliance, which is organising the march, welcomed the NFU endorsement.
“Were absolutely delighted at the announcement. The NFU has been 100% behind us since we announced the march and this declaration of public support is hugely welcome.”
She appreciated that lambing and drilling commitments might make the trip difficult for some farmers, but said they would be there in spirit.
The spokeswoman revealed that farmers sons and daughters would be among the children leading the march.
And discussions were taking place on how to give farmers taking part a stronger visual presence.
She refused to predict numbers attending, saying only that it was hoped the 300,000 figure for the 1998 march would be exceeded.
The NFU urges members who want to attend the march to register on the March Registration Hotline on 0906 788 1680.