Westminster Parliament

More than a thousand farmers and waves of livestock took to the streets of London today (23 March) in protest at low farmgate prices and a perceived lack of government and retailer support for the embattled sector.

The march, organised by protest group Farmers for Action, began at 11am at Waterloo Place before making its way through Westminster and into Whitehall and Downing Street, where FFA chairman David Handley delivered a letter to prime minister David Cameron calling on him to take action to support the struggling farming sector.

Handley railed against the “soundbites” emanating from government over its 25-year strategy for farming, and warned that the majority of farmers on the march feared how they would get through the year.

“Falling prices across the industry are making production unsustainable,” he said. “People cannot take this any longer.”

The NFU did not participate in the march in an official capacity, but in a statement it said any activity “which encourages the public to back British farming and highlights the importance of farming to Britain is to be welcomed”.

A Defra spokeswoman said the government understood the pressures facing farming in what was a “very challenging” time due to global volatility and low commodity prices.

“We want to grow our £100 billion food and farming industry and are employing a host of measures, at both an EU and UK level, so it can become more resilient, competitive and able to capitalise on the growing global interest in quality British produce.”

It is understood the FFA is planning to follow the Westminster march with a further wave of protests at food processors and retailers over the coming weeks.