Farmers protest in London

24-03-2016 | |
Farmers protest in London
Farmers protest in London

The streets of London were taken over on Wednesday by around 1,000 farmers who were protesting over the state of the UK’s agriculture industry.

Campaign group, Farmers For Action, had organised the event to try and encourage the British government to do more to help cash strapped farmers.

In the early morning, farmers and protesters arrived by coach in Westminster to take part in the march. The organisers said they wanted the Prime Minister to take action to save the farming industry.  FFA leader and dairy farmer David Handley said: “We keep getting soundbites from ministers, saying they’re listening and have a 25-year strategy plan.  “But the majority of farmers here today want to know how they will get through the next 12 months.  “Falling prices across the industry are making production unsustainable. People cannot take this any longer.”

A spokesperson from Defra, the UK government’s agriculture department, said: “We understand the pressures facing farming in what is a very challenging time with global volatility and low commodity prices.  “From opening new export markets and introducing a fairer tax system for farmers to reducing red tape and giving them access to the latest market data to help them manage their businesses, we are taking action to help ensure the long-term resilience of an industry vital for our economy and our countryside.”

Dairy farmers have been hit the hardest and have seen their incomes plummet over the past year.  Demand for dairy produce has fallen due to the embargo by Russia on food imports and a reduction in demand from China.  Dairy farmer Nigel Batten from Tenby in Pembrokeshire told the BBC the farming industry was “on its knees” and was facing a “crisis.”

He said: “We have volatility in the dairy industry; we have nothing controlling the production of milk. It just goes from one extreme to the other,” he said. “One minute they want more milk so farmers expand their businesses, the next they want less. “I would say 20% of dairy farmers are not going to survive the next 12 months. “And if the industry collapses, we will see devastation in west Wales as so much of the area relies on farming.” It has been reported that one in five of the UK’s 10,000 plus dairy farmers could pull out of milking cows if the dire situation continues.

Join 13,000+ subscribers

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about all the need-to-know content in the dairy sector, two times a week.

Chris Mccullough Freelance multi-media journalist