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The following press release was circulated on the internet on 2 August 2002. An NFU spokeswoman commenting on the strike said: "If it results in a single extra French apple or Argentinian steak on British supermarket shelves because they can't get hold of home-grown food then it will have done more harm than good."

To which Mr Handley replied "If the NFU had been doing its job properly, we wouldn't have to worry about French apples or Argentinian meat!"

Farmers For Action are calling for a national strike by UK food producers on Friday 23 August.

This strike will commence at 12 midnight, Thursday 22nd August and run through until midnight of the 23rd August. It to highlight the disastrous situation that is now surrounding British food production. We are calling on all farmers in the UK and Ireland to abide by this 24-hour token strike. No one at present appears to be listening to what is happening to British food production. If we do not bring awareness to the general public, government and all other bodies that represent farming, our industry will be extinct by 2010.

The farming community will be asked not to sell any product produced on their farm within this 24-hour period. This will include dairy farmers, livestock farmers, egg producers, fruit, vegetable and arable farmers. We will be asking all Farmers Markets not to operate on this day. We will ask all livestock markets not to operate on this day.

If we are not listened to we intend to escalate this action over the coming months. Plans are already afoot for action throughout the autumn and winter period. We will be calling on all of the 128 so called bodies that speak on behalf of agriculture to back this strike.

As farmers we are fully aware of the tragic situation that is taking place on the African continent with the famine that is taking thousands of lives weekly. Therefore on the day of this strike we are asking every farmer or associated industry to make a donation to our campaign - Food For Africa. There is a parallel to be drawn from these two situations and the British consumer must be made aware of how fragile food production is in the UK.

It is on a knife-edge at the moment. We hope that we will have their support, we do not wish to cause disruption but we are on the precipice of extinction and no one is listening. The cheap food basket could end up actually destroying the hand that feeds it.

We hope members will give us full support for this strike action. We will be talking with other unions associated with our industry over the coming weeks in the build up to the first national farmers strike to hopefully gain their support. Governments must now listen.

Food is the commodity of life, somewhere within Westminster people seem to have forgotten this. Recently Mrs Beckett, head of DEFRA is reported to have said in a bid for the moral highground, that trade liberalisation would be worth billions of pounds to developing countries. Our question to Mrs Beckett - if this is the case why have we got mass death in Africa?

David Handley

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