Dover: Slow tractor demo as farmers protest over imports

Protest tractors line up at a traffic light junction in Dover
The protesting farmers in Dover said they did not want to cause disruption but they wanted to raise awareness

Tractors lined up on roads outside Dover on Friday as farmers protested against foreign imports of food.

Kent Police said they responded to an incident of "slow-moving vehicles" in Jubilee Way, one of the main roads heading to the port.

Officers had worked with Port of Dover Police, the force said.

A Government spokesperson said: "We firmly back our farmers. British farming is at the heart of British trade."

They said agriculture was at the forefront of any deals negotiated, with a priority on creating new export opportunities and protecting UK food standards.

One farmer took to social media to explain why he was taking part in the protest over food trade deals.

Jeffrey Gibson, from Yew Tree Farm in Wingham, Kent, said supermarkets were selling British produce at prices "cheaper than the cost of production".

Traffic queue at Dover
Traffic built up around the port as farmers took to the roads

The protest follows similar demos in France in recent weeks which saw French farmers move tractors to blockade routes into Paris, arguing they had been hit by falling incomes, environmental regulations, rising red tape and competition from imports.

Across Europe, farmers have also ramped up protests in Poland, Hungary, Spain and Belgium.

Mr Gibson said about 30 tractors had gathered on roads around the port but were "dispersed" because police had blocked off many of the roads, adding: "They are not allowing us anywhere near the port."

He said protesters wanted to raise awareness of how unfairly farmers were being treated.

He said: "We produce crops to the highest standards in the world, but have to compete with imported foods containing illegal chemicals and the government does trade deals with those countries."

Tractor demo
Farmers are using their vehicles to protest against foreign imports

He said Friday's protest was only planned at lunchtime and about 30 tractors were taking part.

But he added: "This is just the start of something a lot bigger unless the government start to take notice."

He said protests could escalate to the level of those seen in Paris and Brussels.

"We don't want to cause disruption," he said. "We want to get the message across."

Protest truck
One truck displayed the slogan No More Cheap Imports

A Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson added: "We've maintained the £2.4 billion annual farming budget which supports farmers to produce food profitably and sustainably, while protecting nature and helping to meet our net zero ambitions.

"We are also looking at ways to further improve fairness in the supply chain and support British farmers and growers"

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