6 September 2002

Dear Tony…big questions

TEN-YEAR-OLD Sam Barnes is so concerned about the state of farming hes written to the Prime Minister.

"I would like to know why footballers get paid thousands, just for a kicking a piece of leather around a field and farmers hardly get paid anything when they work about 18 hours from 4.30am until late at night," wrote the dairy farmers son from Dorset.

"At the moment the milk price is as low as 13p/litre. How do you expect farmers to keep their farms running with prices like this?"

He ended his letter to Tony Blair by saying: "I want to be a farmer when I grow up but at this rate there wont be any farms left with the prices like this."

The schoolboy received a letter back from Downing Street saying the PM had taken "careful note" of his concerns and had asked DEFRA to reply.

DEFRAs letter blamed the low milk price on high levels of domestic production and weak international markets. "The average farmgate price of milk is below the cost of production for many dairy farmers, a situation that is clearly unsustainable in the long term," it said.

Sam remains worried – but is still determined to be a farmer. And in the meantime, hes had the letter from Downing Street framed!