One of the leading voices in a farm protest movement which has grown rapidly in the UK warned that unless government acts, more farmers will join the campaign.

Last night, dozens of tractors supporting the No Farmers No Food movement converged on Westminster as farmers - mainly from Kent - took part in a go-slow convoy through the capital.

Sixth-generation farmer Mark Byford, of Lawshall, near Bury St Edmunds, wasn't there because he is so busy on the family farm - as winter floods have dramatically delayed spring drilling.

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"I think personally last night was a warning to government they need to do something in a hurry or otherwise you are going to have 10,000 tractors next time," he said.

Farming had reached crisis point, he warned. "Bear in mind, the weather is broken. We are far behind because of the rain we have had. We are months behind with drilling. We have got fields that have not been ploughed yet," he said.

This had condensed ploughing, preparing fields and drilling into a very short time-frame before it was too late to get this year's crops in, he said.

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"Basically we have got a three-week window to get everything done," he said.

"Farmers don't want to go out protesting because they have got a million things to do. They have got to balance the books to keep everything going. It's a last-ditch attempt to keep the industry going."

Without urgent action he predicted half of farmers will have abandoned the industry by next year.

The Suffolk farmer was one of four founder members of the small group which became the No Farmers No Food movement a year ago. The three others came from Cambridge and Wales.

By October 2023, as others got on board, the slogan - which Mark said he borrowed from a similar farmers' campaign in India - began lighting up social media and the movement became more organised.

"I posted onto Twitter (X) and got up to 50,000 followers in a month," he said. Others in the movement began sharing on YouTube and other social media. Protests sprang up in Cardiff and Cornwall. 

Mark - who runs community vegetable growing operation the Ark Project and is involved in the family's 100-acre hay and grain operation at Cooper's Farm - said the campaign was self-funding.

He has produced and sent out No Farming No Food posters and banners in response to growing demand on social media.

Farmers involved in the No Farming No Food campaign are protesting the government's approach to farming and net zero - and supermarkets squeezing farmers' margins with their pricing policies.

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They include a post-Brexit government subsidy system which they argue rewards farmers for planting trees and habitat - but not for growing food.

Other gripes include the soaring cost of red diesel to run their tractors, "dishonest" food labelling which means food grown abroad but processed in the UK can bear a Union Jack and trade deals which they claim undercut the food they grow through imports grown to lower standards. 

Land was being put into re-wilding because it was more profitable, said Mark. "We are heading for a massive, massive issue in the next six to 12 months," he said. "It really worries me."

Mark said he came across the No Farmers No Food slogan while he was trawling the internet. He came across a campaign in India in 2016 under that banner. "People said it was really catchy and it went from there."