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IN PICTURES: Shropshire farmers join animals and activists at …

Farmers from across Shropshire and Mid Wales joined thousands of other producers from across the country in marching on London to call for changes in the industry.

Coaches from Shropshire, including in Market Drayton and Oswestry, left at about 6am yesterday to head down to the capital.

They joined other farmers and supporters to march through Trafalgar Square to Downing Street.

Farmers For Action (FFA), led by David Handley, organised the march to raise awareness of the issues affecting farmers.

The event entailed the group presenting a letter of concern to David Cameron at Number 10.

Farmers who travelled from Market Drayton to London to protest

Colin Hamilton, 58, from Woore, was one of the 35 people who got on the free coach from Market Drayton organised by Barbers Auctions.

Mr Hamilton, who supplies animal feed to dairy farmers, said: “We are protesting due to the failing prices.

“Farmers are being paid prices for their products lower than the cost of production.

“I am in the trade and we supply products to farmers. The failing prices have a knock-on effect throughout the community.

“Beef, lamb, milk and most farming sectors are having a bad time.

“I hope this march will create awareness so improvements are made soon. We have suffered and something needs to be done.”

BRITAIN Farmers 153774A police officer helps to herd a sheep back into a truck during the rally

Dairy farmer Rob Sutton, 31, from Audlem, near Market Drayton, said he could soon be out of business because of the falling milk prices.

He added: “Any publicity for farmers needs to be done. The public think it has gone away but it is just getting worse.

“If the milk price does not increase soon I will be out of business.

“The price keeps reducing more and more.

“This is the worst I have seen it and it is the worst my dad has seen it.

“We are currently making about £3,000 loss a month.

“Things need to change rapidly. It is getting worse by the day.”

Farmers for Action rallyFarmers complete with animals and tools lead the march with Trafalgar Square in the background

Tom Houghton, a beef farmer and member of FFA, was also on the coach.

He said: “Hopefully this protest will show just how bad things have got for the farming community.

“As more and more farmers sell up it has a knock-on effect on the community.

“Schools and shops could close and it could have a really bad impact on north Shropshire due to how rural it is.”

Another 35 people were on the coach from Oswestry organised by dairy farmer Sara Suckley.

Sara, from Llangedwyn in Powys, said: “I am taking part in the protest today as we want to support Farmers For Action and get a fair price for what we produce.”

Farmers for Action rallyThe march travelled through Whitehall

Rob Newbery, NFU regional director, said: “Some farming sectors have been under severe financial pressure over the past 12 months from low prices, compounded by further cuts this year.

“Any activity which encourages the public to back British farming and highlights the importance of farming to Britain is to be welcomed.

“Aside from our lobbying work directly for our farmer members, the NFU has been at the fore of garnering support for the industry, across all sectors, with its Back British Farming campaign, www.nfuonline.com/back-british-farming.

“We have organised and co-ordinated events and demonstrations of support across England and Wales – most recently taking the message to the streets of London as part of the Lord Mayor’s Show.

“The NFU welcomes any activity which supports or builds on this work.”

Farmers for Action rallyJames and Louisa Edgar march in cow onesies with their two-year-old daughter Madeleine

The march comes as earlier this month Market Drayton-based Muller announced it would slash its standard milk supplier’s price by 1.35p per litre to 20ppl.

It also deals a blow to farmers who began supplying to the group following the acquisition of Dairy Crest’s dairies operation on Boxing Day.

Muller Direct Milk suppliers – those who moved from Dairy Crest contracts – will now be paid 19.34p.

This follows a 1p a litre price cut from February 15.

Meanwhile, First Milk members supplying their creamery pools have seen another reduction in their milk price, while Arla has given its direct suppliers 12 months’ notice on their contract as they’re struggling to find a market for the milk.

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