Protests over 20-day standstill
Source: FWi 15 October 2002

By Isabel Davies

LIVESTOCK farmers are planning disruptive action to force the government to drop the 20-day rule restricting animal movements.

Farmers For Action chairman David Handley told a meeting at Bakewell Auction Market, Derbyshire, that the rule could not continue.

Speaking afterwards, he warned that an idea gaining support among farmers was to stop complying with the rule and destroy licence forms.

Farmers had been told they had to keep full movement records that could be checked by trading standards officers if they wished, he said.

"This is one way forward. Everyone has been told they must keep all the necessary records.

"But we are trying to show government that the rule is draconian and will not be tolerated."

If the government did not reconsider, then farmers would look to arrange a substantial march on the government’s veterinary office at Page Street in Westminster.

If all that failed, then farmers would blockade roads, said Mr Handley, who helped organise the fuel protests which disrupted Britain two years ago.

"We will go to the roads and the streets and bring the country to a standstill.

"It would be a last resort as we don’t want to inconvenience the public, but we’re at desperation's door."

No dates have been set for a demonstration in London or any action on the streets.

Mr Handley claimed that more than 800 farmers turned up to the Derbyshire meeting on Monday (14 October).

"It is good news. It shows farmers realise they have to come together and listen."