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
On the coach, I went around to several of them to ask why they felt
threatened? They said:-
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!
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.
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.
Our government’s inability to stick up for Britain in Brussels!
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