Struggling farmers signalled they would fight for the future of the UK agriculture industry as they gathered for a mass protest in central London.
About 1,000 farmers gathered on the streets of London today (March 23) for the Farming to London march, organised by Farmers For Action.
The demonstration saw protesters gather in Waterloo Place, before moving on to Trafalgar Square and then Downing Street.
Before the march began, industry members, including former Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt, spoke to the crowds, discussing the need for Government to address the uncertain future of the farming industry.
“Government can introduce legislation to make sure our services source British food,” she told farmers.
“I do not believe [Government] should not intervene in markets. That means [the Government must] give much more power to the Grocery Code Adjudicator.”
In an interview with Farmers Guardian prior to the march, FFA chairman David Handley had issued concerns the demonstration may not reach the 1,000 protesters the group had aimed for.
But initial police estimates suggested the march may have reached 1,000.
Farming protesters in Westminster hailed the event a success as Mr Handley went into Number 10 to deliver a letter to Government on behalf of farmers.
The letter demanded answers about the Government’s attitude to the domestic industry and whether it would support agriculture.
Scott Ruck, from Belmont Farm, an educational farm in Mill Hill, North London, suggested UK farmers needed to be allowed to be competitive in the global market.
“The number of small farmers is decreasing and without [help] we will start to see milk being shipped in from elsewhere,” he said.
Following the march a Defra spokesman said the Government understood the pressures facing farming due to global volatility and low commodity prices.
“We want to grow our £100 billion food and farming industry and are employing a host of measures, at both an EU and UK level, so it can become more resilient, competitive and able to capitalise on the growing global interest in quality British produce," the spokesman said.
“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.”