Everything you should know about today’s protest at Westminster

British farmers are set to bring the countryside to London during a protest that kicks off later today. 

British farmers will host tractor protest at Westminster Square in London today, 25th March. It is organised by Save British Farming.

Organised by Save British Farming and Farmers for Fairness, the demonstration aims to showcase farmers’ dissatisfaction with UK food policy, substandard imports and stricter food labelling regulations.

The tractor rally will start today, 25th March at about 5.30pm at New Covent Garden Market, with protesters reaching Parliament Square and Whitehall at about 6pm.  

Imported food undercutting British  

Save British Farming posted on its social media: “Farmers will delight London with a tractor rally to demand government action to #SaveBritishFarming.

“It’s just wrong that imported food is undercutting our British produce and that some of it is being labelled with the British flag. Added to which govt has NO food plan, it believes the markets should be left to manage our food system.”

The protest will follow a similar ‘slow drive’ demonstration, which was held on Sunday 3rd March when about 200 farmers drove their tractors through Canterbury, Kent.

Three key asks  

Founder of campaign group Save British Farming Liz Webster said that the rally aims to highlight three key asks: that the government acts to block substandard imports, puts an end to ‘dishonest’ food labelling, and takes more action to address food security.

Ms Webster added: “Farming is fraught with risks: risks that have intensified every year with the climate emergency, Ukraine war and Brexit reality, which have only served to exacerbate problems.

“Rishi Sunak loves to use gimmicky campaign slogans about British farming when elections loom and he needs votes, but, in truth, his government have shown us they just don’t care about British farming or food.

Founder of campaign group Save British Farming Liz Webster.

“They want to leave us reliant on food imports, which are bad for public health, the environment, animal welfare and exacerbate the climate crisis.

“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.”

Country’s support   

Jeff Gibson, founder of Kent Fairness for Farmers, said: “As a farmer and one of the organisers of Fairness for Farmers protest/rallies in Kent, I feel very proud of the country’s support towards Monday’s rally in London. 

“Now that we have joined forces with Liz Webster and Save British Farming, I feel our message is getting out and being heard loud and clear. 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.   

“We, as British farmers, take great pride in feeding our nation with the safest food in the world. All we ask is that our children are given the opportunity to do the same, but sadly, if things stay the same, it is highly unlikely.”  

Proud to have Union Jack on products  

Geoffrey Philpott, a cauliflower farmer in East Kent, who is bringing three tractors to the rally, said that his day-to-day aim is to produce the highest quality, safest and healthiest food for the UK market. He added: “We should be banning substandard imports that aren’t held to the same high standards as UK production. In many cases they are produced using methods and chemicals that are banned in the UK.    

“I am proud to have a Union Jack on all my produce, but why is it foreign produce that is packed in the UK can have a Union Jack on it? The only reason is to deceive the public into believing it’s the healthiest and safest food you can buy.  

“Food security is another top issue. I hope to be farming for many years to come, but if things don’t change, I won’t be, and I won’t be employing the fourteen people who work for me.   

“Then we will be reliant on foreign produce that will not have the high standard of UK production. Once that happens, we could be held to ransom over supply and pricing.   

“I hope MPs and civil servants wake up quickly and support British agriculture so I can continue to farm for many years to come and supply healthy, safe produce for UK people.”  

Taking message to Parliament  

David Catt, vegetable grower and wholesaler from Maidstone added: “After the fabulous success of our Fairness for Farmers rally in Canterbury, we are taking our message to parliament.  

“The public support for our cause was eye-watering. Seeing fully-grown farmers with tears in their eyes was a sight to behold.  

“We are calling for a stop to substandard imports, honesty in labelling of non-UK products, and to protect and strengthen our weakening food security”. 

Meeting points 

Kent farmers are meeting at: 

  • Meeting point 1: the bottom of Charing Hill, Hook Lane, 11:45am, departure from there 12:15pm 

For people coming from Thanet, Canterbury, Deal, Dover, Faversham, Folkstone, Ashford, The Marsh.  

  • Meeting point 2: the bottom of Wrotham Hill, London Road, 12:45pm, departure from there 1:15pm  

For people coming from Maidstone, Medway, Sevenoaks, East Sussex.  

Final meeting point for all: New Covent Garden Market, departing at 5.30pm. 

Tractors will then drive over Vauxhall Bridge, up Millbank and turn left into and around Parliament Square, coming out on Westminster Bridge Road and turning left onto the Embankment, left in Northumberland Avenue, and left down Whitehall and back into Parliament Square.  

Protesters will continue this loop until around 7.30pm. 

READ MORE: Will new EU proposal end farmer protests? 

READ MORE: General election: call for new government to source more food from British farms 

Read more political news.

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