Tractors descend on Parliament over ‘betrayal’ of British farmers in post-Brexit trade deals

Tractors descend on Parliament over ‘betrayal’ of British farmers in post-Brexit trade deals
  • PublishedMarch 26, 2024

Save British Farming claims imported food is falling short of UK standards and farmers are being undercut by their counterparts in the EU who are still receiving subsidies.

A “go slow” convoy of more than 120 tractors is making its way around Westminster tonight as campaigners demand action on food security.

Organised by Save British Farming and the Kent Fairness for Farmers group, they are calling for an end to a number of post-Brexit trade deals, which they claim are allowing imports into the country that fall short of UK standards.

The campaigners have pointed to deals with New Zealand, Australia, and the CPTPP deal with 11 countries including Canada, Japan and Mexico, as well as saying they are no longer on a level playing field with European farmers, who still receive subsidies from the EU and can import their goods across the Channel.

The group also claims there is a lack of import checks allowing sub-standard food into the country, as well as products being labelled with a Union flag despite not having been grown or reared in Britain.

The convoy of tractors and trailers began the protest in New Covent Garden in central London and the vehicles are now filling the roads around parliament, donned with banners and farmers beeping their horns to bring attention to their cause.

Save British Farming founder Liz Webster said farmers were “completely and utterly disadvantaged”, likening the situation to “[sending] the English football team to the World Cup and saying ‘off you go, you’ve got chains on your legs and chains on your hands’.”

She added: “In 2019, this government was elected with a mandate to uphold our standards and deliver a ready-made deal with the EU which would see British agriculture boom.

“It is now entirely obvious that they have totally betrayed us all.

“Polling shows that the public back British farming and food and want to maintain our high food standards and support local producers.

“We need a radical change of policy and an urgent exit from these appalling trade deals which will decimate British food.”

Jeff Gibson, founder of Kent Fairness for Farmers, said: “It’s so important that our message about substandard imports, dishonest labelling and concerns for food security is heard.

“With an election looming, we want to ensure the next incoming government takes up our cause.”

Farming minister Mark Spencer insisted the government “firmly backs our farmers”, and farming was “at the heart of British trade”.

He added: “We put agriculture at the forefront of any deals we negotiate, prioritising new export opportunities, protecting UK food standards and removing market access barriers.

“We’ve maintained the £2.4bn annual farming budget and recently set out the biggest ever package of grants which supports farmers to produce food profitably and sustainably.

“We are also looking at ways to further improve fairness in the supply chain, and have launched a consultation to make food labelling fairer, supporting British farmers and growers and ensuring high-quality British produce get the recognition they deserve.”


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