Farming leader Minette Batters has said she is ‘really nervous’ about ongoing protests, as farmers stage demonstrations in the UK and across Europe.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president told delegates at the NFU conference in Birmingham she supported the right to protest.

However, she raised concerns about losing the support of the British public, pointing to the reaction to environmental protesters Just Stop Oil and highlighted that in 2023, farming grew to second place in the list of professions most valued by the public.

Ms. Batters outlined the challenges facing the sector, from flooding to high prices of fuel and fertiliser, mental health concerns, and the shift from EU subsidies based on the amount of land farmed to environmental land management schemes which reward farmers for nature-friendly action.

In her speech to the conference she described the proposals as a ‘red line’ and told delegates ‘We will not cross it’.

Producers across Europe have been protesting over EU policies on the environment and other matters, which they say are a financial burden and make their products more expensive than non-EU imports.

Protests of tens of thousands of people have also taken place in India.

Asked about protests after her speech, Ms Batters said: “I think we have to be really grateful that freedom of speech and right to peaceful protests are our fundamental rights of democracy here in this country.

"They are really important and on that basis, we do support them. My nervousness with protests, and we’ve seen it with Just Stop Oil, is when you start interfering and disrupting people’s daily lives, you very quickly, if you do it wrong, lose support of the British public.

“It’s not something that I would ever rule out but I’d be really nervous in this country of disrupting daily lives,” she said, warning that if farmers pitch the British public against them, it would take “years to recover from”.

She also hit out at the Welsh Government, saying it had to listen and change, but said the only way to resolve the issue is by sitting down at the table and having 'responsible' conversations to sort it out.