UNREST could spread through the UK’s farming community unless the Government started to take notice of its views, MP Ian Liddell-Grainger warned.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said recent demonstrations in Kent and Wales could just be the start unless Ministers encouraged more, rather than less domestic food production.

Kent farmers took to their tractors to jam roads in protest at contracts the Government signed to import cheap meat.

In Wrexham, a tractor cavalcade blocked the city centre after driving to the constituency office of Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths.

Protests followed others in Carmarthen aimed at the Welsh Government’s new sustainable farming scheme requiring 10 per cent of land to be planted with trees and 10 per cent to become wildlife habitat.

Farmers say the measures would have huge impacts on their already-low incomes and lead to thousands of job losses.

Mr Liddell-Grainger, who represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative candidate at the General Election in a new constituency covering parishes around Wellington and the Culm Valley, said if similar measures were adopted by Government it would inflict damage on an unprecedented scale on the farming economy.

He said: “I come from a farming family and I have every sympathy with the protestors because I understand completely why they are angry.

“Farmers have the ability to stand back and take a far wider, common sense view of the world than politicians being driven by narrow agendas.

“They can see clearly that in an increasingly volatile world where, apart from international conflict, we face the unknowable consequences of climate change, it is utter folly to increase our reliance on imports.

“It is disingenuous for Ministers to claim that taking land out of production is better for the environment when that merely increases our dependence on food which has been produced under environmentally-unsustainable regimes and then travelled unsustainably for thousands of miles to get here.

“And ‘carbon offsetting’ by planting more trees is a total con because it is merely a licence to allow major corporations to carry on polluting.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger said Ministers should heed the early signs of revolt in the farming community and start helping to improve the financial health of the rural economy.

“We are already seeing pig and poultry producers getting out because cheap imports are forcing down prices and making profitable farming impossible,” he said.

“I seriously wonder how much more structural damage the Government is prepared to accept before it is forced to concede that its current policies are driving a world-leading industry into penury.

“Personally, I applaud farmers who are prepared to get out and protest and who have concluded that the NFU is never going to instigate any such action because it is frightened of rocking the boat.

“Next week, the outgoing NFU president will be standing up at the NFU conference and telling the audience how much she has achieved for the industry in the last four years.

“I am thinking about sending her a postage stamp to make some notes on.”