On Friday evening, approximately 40 tractors and other farm vehicles disrupted traffic around the Kent port for several hours.They drove slowly and held signs with slogans like ‘No More Cheap Imports’.
Kent farmers are planning to meet again this week to discuss additional actions. They may be joined by other campaigns fueled by farmers’ simmering discontent.
Last October, farmers in Somerset attempted to block a Morrisons distribution centre in Bridgwater under a banner that read ‘Proud to Farm’. Last week, about 3,000 farmers gathered in Carmarthen, Wales, for a protest. Some even carried a mock coffin with a plaque that said ‘In memory of Welsh farming’.
Similar campaigns have emerged with themes like Get Fair About Farming. This campaign was initiated last year by Guy Singh-Watson, the founder of organic vegetable-box company Riverford. A petition related to this campaign was debated in parliament last month.
Andrew Gibson, who coordinated the Dover protest with his brother Jeff, stated that they have received support from all over the country. He also mentioned that other groups, like theirs, will make their presence felt around the docks and supermarket distribution centres.
The Kent farmers drew inspiration from their counterparts in France who blocked motorways into Paris for over a week until the government promised additional funds, relaxed regulations, and protection against unfair competition.
However, Gibson believes that getting to London may be challenging as they would likely be removed quickly. Nevertheless, they are open to the idea. The protest on Friday afternoon was spontaneous and was organized just a few hours earlier. According to Gibson, the response so far has been fantastic.
Gibson highlighted tariff-free wheat from Ukraine and cheap lamb from New Zealand as some of the reasons for the farmers’ protest. His brother Jeff stated in an interview that Brexit has made exporting from the UK more difficult, while importing into the country seems unchanged.
Since then, trade deals with Australia and New Zealand have been implemented. Andrew Gibson revealed that he tried to purchase British lamb at his local supermarket but found none. He expressed his dismay at the ethics behind importing lamb from the other side of the world and selling it at a high price, stating that it is mind-boggling.
Moreover, Gibson criticized the fact that a significant amount of produce from around the world is being imported, which would be illegal to grow in the UK. He emphasized that British farmers produce the best quality goods to the highest standard and simply want a level playing field.