Tractor driving farmers stage 'go-slow' protest in Dover over cheap food imports

In the second protest of its kind in eight days, farmers staged a "go-slow" protest over cheap food imports and threats to Britain's food security, ITV News's Olivia Guthrie reports

British farmers driving tractors staged a slow-moving protest near the Port of Dover today, claiming they are being undercut by cheap foreign food imports.

Around 20 tractors parked at Tesco Extra in Whitfield to raise awareness of a threat to food security in the UK and to "win over" members of the public.

It is the second protest of its kind in the area in eight days, with organisers fed up with supermarkets not paying what they feel is a fair price for homegrown produce.

"What we're looking for is a levelling of the playing field." farmer Andrew Gibson told ITV News's Olivia Guthrie.

Speaking to ahead of Saturday's protest, his brother, Jeff Gibson, said: “British farmers can’t compete with cheap foreign imports and we’re going to be left in a situation where we cannot feed the British public. “The biggest problem we’re going to face as an industry and the British public in future years is, what happens in the next crisis, what happens in the next Covid, what happens in the next Ukraine war?

"We need to make people realise that food security in this country is really under threat.

Protesters said they wanted a 'levelling of the playing field'. Credit: PA

"If nothing is done, if the Government trade deals go through, we’re going to have points in the future … when the UK’s supermarket shelves are empty and they’re going to be empty for a long time.” Mr Gibson added that the police were aware of the protest and that he believed the general public will “rally behind farmers”. The east Kent farmer said: “We’re not going to be tearing up motorways, we’re not going to be spreading Government buildings in manure. We’re going to do this peacefully and we’re going to exercise our right to peaceful protest.” Mr Gibson said farmers have to make a real effort to win over the British public to show them how “unfair the current system is”.

Farmers stopped in a Tesco Extra car park in Whitfield to speak with members of the public. Credit: PA

He said it is unfair because foreign imports are cheaper because of the way and standards under which they are produced.

“We do everything we can as an industry to produce the highest standards of food and welfare in the world, and we feel that’s being eroded away by terrible Brexit deals, a complete and utter lack of empathy from the UK Government and the supermarkets for the way they treat British farmers,” Mr Gibson added.

After the Tesco protest, the tractors departed in convoy, travelling via the Port of Dover. The protest comes as farmers across Europe have been demonstrating against European Union farming policies on concerns such as unfair competition and cost hikes. In Poland, access roads to border crossings with Ukraine were blocked by tractors, while in several Spanish cities protests continued overnight with 20 people arrested during last week’s protests.

Protests have also taken place in other EU member nations including France and Italy. A Kent Police spokeswoman said: “Kent Police was made aware of a planned protest in Whitfield, Dover, on Saturday February 17. Officers monitored the situation and provided a proportionate police response.”

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