Farmers mobilise against U.S “Hell Meat”

Pressure is building on North Yorkshire MPs to support plans for a ban on imports of inferior, low-welfare meat from US factory farms – following some of the biggest farmers’ protests seen in recent times.

Tractors with trailers, lorries and farm machinery decked out with “Save British Farming” banners travelled in convoy up Northallerton High Street on Friday 25th September and in Stokesley on Friday 9th October. Scores of supporters  lined the street, clapping, cheering and waving and placards calling for protection of food and animal welfare standards. 

The demo’s have received widespread media coverage including North East Bylines, the Northern Echo and the Yorkshire Post  – and the personal support of Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson who tweeted“Farmers – the people who put  food on the table – need our help if the country cares about the chemicals that go into our children and/ or the way animals are treated.”  The paper’s leader column said the demo: “offered further evidence of the simmering unease which has the potential to reach boiling point unless the Government listens to farmers, peers and all those who are now fearful for UK agriculture’s future because of its obdurance over Brexit.”

The protests, supported by Save British Farming, North Yorkshire for Europe and York for Europe, was organised to increase public awareness of the threat from planned deregulation of food standards to smooth the way for post-Brexit trade deals.

There were speeches by Graham Clarke, the Bedale farmer who led the convoy, Jon Johnson, of Save British Farming, and Lord Newby, leader of the Lib Dems in the House of Lords, who said: “When this Government says ‘trust us’ you have to double lock your wallet. Worse, this Bill will only be debated for 90 minutes, so keep pressuring your MP.

Later Graham travelled by tractor to the outskirts of the town to deliver a protest letter to Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak’s office. Graham said unregulated US imports “will mean ruin for huge numbers (of farmers) who are just getting by right now.” 

Graham Clarke delivering his letter to Chancellor Sunak’s office

A US trade deal could allow in not just chlorinated chicken but also meat from cows and pigs kept in extreme crowded conditions in US factory farms  – where they are pumped full of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones banned in the UK, the EU and scores of other countries.

Imports of cheap meat from US factory farms – described as “hell meat” in a recent investigation by the Daily Mirror – would expose consumers to chemicals linked to cancer and undercut traditional livestock farmers in North Yorkshire. This would exacerbate problems created by a hard Brexit, with farmers likely to find themselves cut off from their main export market (90 per cent of UK lamb and beef exports go to the EU).

In May Rishi Sunak failed to support a rebel Tory amendment to the Agriculture Bill that sought to ban US imports of food produced to lower welfare, food safety and environmental standards than those required of British farmers. (In fact he voted for the amendment but made it clear later he had done so accidentally).

To their shame all of North Yorkshire’s other five Conservative MPs voted against the amendment: Julian Smith (Skipton & Ripon); Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk & Malton); Andrew Jones (Harrogate & Knaresborough); Nigel Adams (Selby & Ainsty) and Bob Goodenough (Scarborough & Whitby) See the full list of MPs who voted the amendment down here

York Outer Tory MP Julian Sturdy joined the rebels by backing the amendment, also supported by York Central MP Rachael Maskell (Lab). We must build momentum to maximise pressure on MPs ahead of crucial vote next month!  (please see below)

It’s not too late to stop this madness!

On Thursday a pivotal amendment to the Agriculture Bill was passed in the House of Lords – that would “require agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards.”So when the bill comes back to the Commons next month MPs will have another opportunity to do the right thing by backing our farmers and protecting our food and animal welfare standards – as promised in the Conservative manifesto and demanded by more than a million people who’ve signed the NFU’s food standards petition.

Please take five minutes to email or write to your MP! 

Contacting your MP

You email your MP using the Save British Farming link where letter is already part written …

Alternatively, you can email your MP direct (click on appropriate MP’s name below)  – remembering to include your address and postcode to show you are a constituent …

you can write an old-fashioned letter (click on link for office address). 

Rishi Sunak (Richmondshire) Constituency Office

Julian Smith (Skipton & Ripon) Constituency Office: Churchill House, 19 Otley Street, Skipton BD23 1DY
Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk & Malton) Constituency office
Andrew Jones (Harrogate & Knaresborough) Constituency Office
Nigel Adams (Selby & Ainsty) Constituency Office
Robert Goodwill (Scarborough & Whitby) Constituency Office
Julian Sturdy (York Outer) Constituency office


Join the White Rose Army outside Parliament on Monday!

Yorkshire Campaigners outside Parliament at the SODEM protest

It’s crunch time. On Monday MP’s will be asked to take probably the most important decision since the Second World War – and what they decide will have implications for our country and our society for generations.

Book your ticket here

The momentum behind the campaign to put the Government’s deal – or any deal – back to the people has never been greater. A million people marched on Saturday, the petition to Revoke Article 50 is nudging the six million mark and opinion polls are now consistently showing a majority in favour of Remain.

But this could still go either way and it’s vital that we get a big show outside Parliament on Monday! 

Book your ticket here

Please come and join your Yorkshire colleagues and support the SODEM protesters and help us to put on a show that MP’s and the world’s media cannot ignore!

Yorkshire for Europe, representing all 12 of the region’s pro-EU groups is organising a fourth rally by Yorkshire groups – for which we’ll be bringing our Yorkshire flags and singing songs from the Yorkshire Remain Voice choir’s popular repertoire. This time it’s more important than ever!

We appreciate Monday is a day when many people are working … but please come and join if you can. It should be fun – and it couldn’t be more important.

Book your ticket here


NB These are approximate. Please check nearer the time as  departure times may change.

8.30am Leeming Bar Rest Area   A1 (M) J51 near Bedale DL8 1DT

Free parking in MacDonalds car park (NB It was suggested on Saturday that people parking in McDonalds car park needed to pay to park. Apparently this is not correct. If we find out that there’s a problem, we will switch to Leeming village)

9:00am Boroughbridge High School Bus stop YO51 9JX

From A1(M) J48, go towards town, past Morrisons turn on left and it’s next to the school on the right. You should be able to park in a side street close to the pick up point or in the Morrisons car park five minutes away

9:20am Wetherby Services off the A1 (M) 

The coach will pull up at the end of the car park closest to the service station, away from from entrance to retail area. We understand parking for the day is £15. We may be able to advise on alternative parking arrangements.

Departure from London approx 7.15pm

Coach Planned to take Yorkshire campaigners to Parliament

Yorkshire for Europe campaigners at SODEM demo
Yorkshire for Europe campaigners at SODEM demo

As MPs move ever close to taking control of the Brexit agenda, we’re planning another trip to Parliament … to remind them of their public duty to put this back to the people.

We’re planning to join forces with colleagues from other pro EU groups across the region by hiring a coach to take supporters to Westminster on Tuesday, April 2nd and Monday 8th April.

This will be the fourth and fifth trip by Yorkshire for Europe supporters. Every time we’ve been before we’ve got ourselves noticed:

  • We’ve secured meetings with MPs
  • We’ve got TV and newspaper coverage
  • We’ve got Yorkshire flags on national television
  • Our march on Parliament with Yorkshire flags has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media

Steve Bray and the SODEM team – who’ve been holding protests outside Parliament for 18 months – are very appreciative of this support. 

They’re asking us to support them again at this crucial stage in the battle to stop Brexit!

Please come and join us if you can. If you’re interested in coming please email us

Flying the flag for Yorkshire