2 min read

Should British Farmers Protest?

Should British Farmers Protest?
Are we in or out?

If there is one thing the French know how to do, it's protest!

Planting motorways with crops, burning tyres and spraying government buildings with slurry, they sure know how to get attention.

Sitting on an island just 250 north of Paris, it's hard not to feel inspired by what is taking place on the continent. A lack of food sovereignty, unfair pricing and excessive red tape are all things we are experiencing in British agriculture.

But the big question we need to ask ourselves as an industry is; should we follow suit and protest?

Let's take a look.

The case for protesting

Do we have grounds to stage a protest? Well, there are a few things in our favour;

  • There is deep anger and frustration from farmers towards governments and the big retailers as to the state of UK farming and farm incomes
  • Many of the catalysts behind the EU protests are happening here in the UK meaning there is grounds for a protest
  • If they can do, then why can't we? You can't argue that it's inspiring. It's given possibility to what many would have imagined impossible only a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately though, it's not that simple. And what has worked on the continent won't necessarily work in the UK. Here's why......

The case against

I had the privilege of interviewing a French farmer to find out why they are protesting, what change they want to see and who they were targeting.

You can listen to the full interview here on the Farming Funny podcast.

The key takeaways for me were:

  • French farmers have the support of the public - they are very influential and popular in society. I question whether UK farmers have the same level of public support especially following 18 months worth of strikes and protests from other unions
  • French farmers are united. Every farmer and farming union in France are singing off the same hymn sheet. They are all agreed as to what they want and how best to achieve this. We certainly don't have this level of unity in the UK.
  • The French have a plan - we don't. Any protest here in the UK shouldn't be reactionary - it need to have a clear reason as to why we're protesting, what we want to change and what the best vehicle is to achieving this.

What should we do?

I know there is A LOT of noise on social media at the moment but my opinion is that we, as British farmers, shouldn't protest.....at least not at the minute.

If we are to go down this route then we ALL need to agree on;

  • What it is we are protesting for
  • What changes do we want to see
  • What is the best vehicle to make this happen*

This certainly won't be the last you or I will hear of this so until the next episode of drama......

*I believe the Riverford Organic way of 'protesting' is a much better form than the French style 'all out anarchy'