Opinion: Farmers can’t make the same mistake as the miners

Polmaise Colliery near Stirling was the first to walk out over pit closures in the miners’ strikes of 1984. I wonder if, back then farmers ever thought they’d need to take action to save their own industry?

Forty years on and nationwide we’ve seen just that – farmers taking action and standing up for the countryside and their livelihoods.

Welsh farming is still under the cosh of inept government.

See also: Opinion – channel JFK and find solutions for farming in 2024

About the author

David Bennie
David Bennie works on the family sheep, beef and arable farm near Stirling. He is also involved with the Royal Highland Education Trust and the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs. 
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It’s a disgrace of an agricultural policy they’re subject to and, looking at Welsh politics currently, it really makes Scottish politicians look good.

I wonder how the Senedd would get on building a ferry? We’re struggling here in Scotland, although maybe it would only go 20mph and be 10% covered in trees?

The protest techniques used in Wales differed completely from those used by Continental farmers.

From the outside, the Welsh protests looked professional and well orchestrated. The 5,500 wellies was a genius idea and particularly poignant.

It hit home with the public and generated sympathetic headlines, which is key.

Using the aggressive techniques of French farmers would be a great way to let off steam – although at the price of straw currently,

I’d wince wasting it by blasting it at the door of Number 10.

Welsh farmers will be glad to see the back of Mark Drakeford. His successor will be overjoyed that, in his swansong, Mark carried the can for spending cuts, driving law changes and thoughtless agricultural policy.

If there are any guts in Vaughan Gething, then he’ll recognise the errors made and correct the course.

Outside Wales, other groups have been active in protest on local and national issues.

Farming and crofting groups in the Cairngorms made their voices heard, against a National Park Authority who’ve little regard for how their decisions impact rural life and businesses.

The air horns echoing and beacons flashing round Westminster really caught public attention in a positive way, as the Save British Farming group drove home their message.

Just Stop Oil take note, hindering public life and vandalising culture won’t win you any fans, but a shiny six-pot Massey will.

“No Farmers, No Food” seems to be the go-to slogan. It’s catchy and the sentiment is right, but it’s stuck in a rut of negativity. I’d love to see a more positive slogan adopted.

It’s been interesting listening to the debate on how farming protests are a target to be taken under the wing of far-right politics.

Seeing how appalled readers’ letters are of any far-right involvement with farming made me proud and shows the anti-fascist sentiment forged 80 years ago by previous generations is still strong.

However much we don’t want to be the puppet of any extremist politics, I’m not sure we’ll have the choice.

From the Iranian to the Russian, revolts and revolutions have a habit of being taken over by others.

What starts out with good and just intentions can be sucked up by those with different agendas and spat out to suit their own twisted narrative.

The best thing is to stay as non-partisan as possible and be careful with whom we champion our farming cause.

The miners’ unions in 1984 were split in support of their strike. Farming can ill afford to do that. Support and solidarity is vital to ensure farming across Britain thrives.


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