Blackpool Conference Sept98

Last Sunday I travelled with Suffolk farmers to Blackpool to join a rally of about 15,000 farmers who came from all over Britain. As I stepped on the coach at Bury, I noticed that our farmers were frustrated, desperate and insecure. Why would they – on a Sunday - leave their home, church and work to join a protest march in Blackpool? 

Our farmers work long hours to produce the quality food that we take for granted. They use their skill, resources and ingenuity to preserve the countryside that we call “our green and pleasant land”. Most of them have farming in their blood and hope their children and grandchildren will carry on sustaining our agriculture and preserve our countryside.

On the coach, I went around to several of them to ask why they felt threatened? They said:-

1.      The high value of the pound has reduced substantially the value of their income. It has sucked in cheap imports which supermarkets favour to stock instead of our own home grown British produce!

2.      The high interest rate in Britain – 7.5% compared to around 3.5% on the continent – has increased substantially their cost of borrowing to buy stock, machinery, buildings and other farm inputs.

3.      The unfair subsidies continental farmers enjoy; the fraudulent practices in Europe which drain EU funds for CAP and the continued ban on British beef exports cost our farmers dearly.

4.      Our government’s inability to stick up for Britain in Brussels!

5.      Unfair British taxes, costs and regulations on farming here e.g.meat and bone meal further disadvantages our farmers.

All other farmers I met in Blackpool expressed the same concerns. Farmer’s leaders from all over Britain re-stated these concerns in their speeches and were loudly applauded by the thousands present.  Mr.Nick Brown, Minister of Agriculture, failed to offer any assurance about the value of the pound, the interest rates or standing up to the bullies in Brussels!

I am glad I went to Blackpool to support our farmers. I shall continue to support them so that they can succeed and help support life in our countryside.