CUMBRIAN farmers were among those who marched on London in the latest cry for help from an embattled industry.

Sporting huge banners, the county’s struggling livestock producers said they joined the rally as a “last stand”, claiming farming was “on its knees” and facing a crisis.

Dairy farmer Margaret Wilson, of Thackwood Farm, Southwaite, took part in Wednesday’s march claiming the financial pressures were forcing some producers to sell up or go bust.

“My banner summed it up by saying: ‘Are we needed, do you want quality British food, or do you want cheap food at any cost’,” said farmer.

“We feel worthless. All sectors are being squeezed out of business. It’s not just dairy, sheep or beef.”

“You can survive a few months like this – perhaps a year if you haven’t borrowed too much.”

About 1,000 farmers gathered in Waterloo Place before moving on to Trafalgar Square and then Downing Street.

“There was a lot of noise, whistles and horns,” said Mrs Wilson, who travelled to London with her husband Geoff. “It was a celebration of British farming.

“We had a Jersey cow and calf and two sheep with us on the march.”

Farming pressure group Farmers For Action (FFA) organised the march, and chairman David Handley went into Number 10 to deliver a letter to the Government on behalf of farmers. It demanded answers about the Government’s attitude to the domestic industry and whether it would support agriculture.

It also touched on the low prices farmers were receiving, as well as the lack of power given to the Grocery Code Adjudicator.

Earlier this year, an investigation by adjudicator Christine Tacon found that Tesco was in breach of the legally-binding Groceries Supply Code of Practice to protect groceries suppliers.

It emerged that the retailer had acted unreasonably when delaying payments to suppliers.

Large dairies including farmers’ co-operative First Milk, which is supplied by hundreds of Cumbrian dairy farmers, Arla and Meadow Foods have cut their milk prices over the past 12 months, and more drops are to be introduced on April 1.

“How can buyers turn round and say we do not want your milk,” said Mrs Wilson, who was at the forefront of the campaign for fairer prices for milk in 2012.

“We are under-producing in this country. We are producing 1bn litres less milk than before the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001.”

FFA said the march was an opportunity for “ordinary, hard-working farmers” to get their message across about the testing times facing the farming industry.

Some industry experts estimate that as many as one in five of the UK’s 10,000-plus dairy farms could be forced to close this year, as falling milk prices and rising debt reach crisis levels for farmers across the country.

Already some of the county’s bigger farming families are selling their cows, and giving up milking altogether.

According to the latest figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), average farmgate milk prices were 23.13p a litre in January, a 12pc drop on the year before and a 2pc fall on December.

But many dairy farmers in Cumbria are struggling with some of the lowest milk prices in the country from as low as 13ppl.

Currently, there are around 10,500 dairy farms in England, Scotland and Wales. Ten years ago, that figure was close to 21,000.

London minicab drivers were due stage a protest to coincide with the farmers march, but it was called off due to the events in Brussels.