A Buckinghamshire farmer has become fearful vegans targeting his local mart could become a growing trend after police were called to the scene.
Beef and sheep farmer Arch Dancer said vegan protestors had inundated Thame Farmers Mart with Facebook organised events.
About 50 people have descended on the market on frequent occasions since the group launched in summer, but Mr Dancer worried the need for a police presence meant it would likely soon be something more serious.
He said: “It is a bit of a job there now.
“I rocked up to the market yesterday and did not know of any organised events but the police had turned up just in case, which is ringing alarm bells.
“It concerns me that police are going to the mart just in case protestors are there regularly.”
The mart has already been targeted with vandalism, with ‘animal prison’ sprayed on the walls.
Mr Dancer said farmers were also targeted by protestors taking pictures of their vehicles, number plates and stock and it was a growing fear they had access to names and addresses in the mart catalogue.
“They are specifically protesting the sale of livestock,” he added. “They say they will release and save the livestock but they are not going to save with their cheque book but by targeting farms and letting livestock out.
“I am getting concerned because calves are of great interest in this area. I do think at some point calves will be let out.”
Mr Dancer and other farmers at the mart are hoping for an injunction or some other barrier to stop the group, and although so far they are only turning up on organised events, they are fearful the Facebook group is growing attention.
He added: “These people come on organised events and they are not there all of the time but this week was the turning point for me.
“You cannot help these people having their views – that is fine – but it has become an extreme group of people trying to force their feelings and opinions onto others.
“It is hindering businesses and a worrying threat. It is a difficult one to solve.”
A Thame Market Animal Save spokesman said: "Thame Market Animal Save are a part of The Save Movement, using a love-based approach to community organizing as a means of being the change we want to see in the world.
"The goals of our regular vigils at farmers markets and slaughterhouses are to encourage people to adopt a nonviolent, compassionate, vegan lifestyle, and, just as importantly, to nurture advocacy. We document the animal victims of the meat, dairy and egg industry and the activists via photos and videos and use social media to spread global awareness and activism."
"We do not hold any hate towards the drivers or farmers our interest is solely to be there for the animals, showing them the respect as individual sentient beings and not as commodities or property.
"We have seen stock-handlers mistreating animals at Thame Farmers Mart and we are there to document these unlawful acts and expose the reality of animals being sold as objects at Thame Farmers Mart.
"We are not breaking any laws and we peacefully document market life from the animals prospective. If the farmers and stock handlers are following the correct regulations there should not be a problem with our presence.
"We will continue to be there on a regularly basis and bear witness to these animals by facing the injustice of this industry.
"The graffiti was present at our first vigil highlighting that the local community already oppose the farmers market however our movement do not partake in any act of vandalism."