Farmers converged on Westminster for a tractor protest against “substandard imports and dishonest labelling” threatening food security in the county. 

The campaign groups Save British Farming and Fairness for Farmers of Kent assembled for a “go-slow” convoy and drive around Westminster, which saw dozens of tractors as well as other farm vehicles taking over the capital.

The protesters wanted to raise concerns over the increasing difficulties faced by the British farming industry. 

They are calling for an end to trade deals which they say are allowing imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK and undercutting British farmers.

Organisers also criticise labelling that allows products to bear a Union flag when they have not been grown or reared in Britain.

Beef and arable farmer and Save British Farming founder Liz Webster, who has a farm in Castle Eaton near Blunsdon, said the situation risked food security and the nation’s health.

Trade deals with New Zealand, Australia, and the CPTPP deal with 11 countries including Canada, Japan and Mexico, along with a lack of import checks, were allowing lower standard foods into the country, she said.

Swindon Advertiser: Local farmer Liz Webster has hit out at the government for its bad trade dealsLocal farmer Liz Webster has hit out at the government for its bad trade deals

British producers had also lost the level playing field with EU farmers and within the UK, Ms Webster warned.

She said European farmers were still receiving subsidies, had freedom of movement for labour, and had continued to have access to British markets, enabling them to undercut farmers in Britain.

Ms Webster said the current situation was “like going out with the English football team to the World Cup and saying ‘off you go, you’ve got chains on your legs and chains on your hands’. We are completely and utterly disadvantaged”.

At the same time, the new English agricultural policy of paying farmers for environmental measures such as habitat creation was taking land out of food production, she said.

Ms Webster said: “In 2019, this Government was elected with a mandate to uphold our standards and deliver a ready-made deal with the EU which would see British agriculture boom.

“It is now entirely obvious that they have totally betrayed us all.

“Polling shows that the public backs British farming and food and wants to maintain our high food standards and support local producers.

“We need a radical change of policy and an urgent exit from these appalling trade deals which will decimate British food.”

She criticised the Government for changing its trade and agricultural policies, and then not monitoring food security closely enough, warning the UK could have to compete with other countries for supplies.