13 June 2001
Have your say, w/e 08 June, 2001

Light up the sky with protest

BECAUSE we have an election date, 7 June, I believe all farmers and country lovers should take the chance to make a visual protest about the negligence of the countryside by politicians, of all parties, over a number of years.

My suggestion is that at 8pm on 6 June, we should all light a bonfire as a reminder of the devastation caused to our beautiful countryside by the foot-and-mouth outbreaks, and to pay homage to those who have lost their stock.

The outbreak was not caused by farmers, but by the negligence of authority; the details of how to control it were laid down in the Northumberland report more than 30 years ago, and what was the response of government and the civil service? – Delay, refusal to commit sufficient funds and resources to clamp down on the outbreaks immediately, followed by a holocaust of Biblical proportions.

So, please, everyone light a fire – we want thousands of them – to show how angry we are.

Burn up your old manifestos, all the election literature, the broken promises, the useless regulations.

Send up a rocket, set off your bangers, but let us be seen to make a protest, and to send a message that we will not be ignored in the future. And then go out and vote – that is democracy, after all.
Bruce Wilkinson, Netherdyke, Glapthorn, Peterborough
brucewilkinson@tinyword.co.uk

New Labour, no improvement

I AGREE entirely with your correspondents Open letter to Tony Blair (Open letter to Tony Blair, FWi Open Forum).

I cannot understand how Blair has been able to insult the rural people of Great Britain for so long. His obvious ignorance of decency is plain for all to see.

His continual disregard for the primary producers and the tens of thousands of other people that are involved downstream will, or should, come to haunt him, and when that happens I expect he will run, cap in hand to his Euro. cronies – that is if he hasnt done it already.

After all, the government has already said that it might start buying quota to stop farmers from getting it.

Open Government, New Labour, nothing has changed. This guy and his mates are just as bad, if not worse, than anything we have ever seen in the past.
BJ Doney, New Zealand
bmdoney@wave.co.nz

Foot-and-mouth by constituency – just in time for the Election

WE were interested to see that MAFF has found the time to put a list of foot-and-mouth cases by constituency on their website in a pdf file at http://www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/cases/constituency.PDF.

Why was time spent doing this?

I notice that, at the time of writing, there are 1632 cases by constituency (to 12.00 hours on Thursday 31 May) and yet there were 1672 confirmed cases in GB (to 19:00 Thursday 31 May).

The figures by constituency have never agreed with the national total figure. It would be interesting to know in whose the constituency the missing cases were…
Bill and Lynne Pearson
bill@pearson43.freeserve.co.uk

Cant we run our own shops?

CAN a food store solely sell British produce?

Although obviously limited in certain resources a store could be owned, maintained and supplied by farmers and their families.

The majority of other industries produce a product and sell that product themselves to the end user.

Like most farmers, I am upset as well as angry towards the state of farming at this moment and I am fed up about hearing blame being passed from one to the other.

If something is to be done then it has got to be done by ourselves.

This country is full off fat cats getting fatter.

The idea of farming is simple and should remain that way but the complexity of food industry today is daft.

You see many farm shops on the side of the road selling at a healthier profit than the farmer selling to a mainstream wholesaler does.

Why cant this be done on a larger scale?

I am not looking for an ideal scenario, but at least looking towards a simple answer to get this industries moral back up on its feet.
PA Eversham
p.a.eversham@ncl.ac.uk

MAFFs missing numbers

CAN anybody tell me how many farms are at this moment without any stock?

All I seem to be able to find is the number of infected premises, but not the total number who have lost all their stock either by contiguous cull or any other reason MAFF dreamed up.

If you know, I would be interested to find out.
MW Fisher
mwfisher@farmersweekly.com

Are they after your mast?

HAVE you been approached by a mobile phone operator, to build or upgrade, or an investment company seeking to purchase your existing mast?

I am setting up a specialist firm that deals with this sector and will be interested to know the number of approaches that are being made outside Greater London for 3G rollout.
Jane Fletcher
01666 503647
jane_fletcher@eggconnect.net

Ministry plan is barmy

I WAS staggered to read your news item “MInistry plans to slash national herd” (FWi, 25 May).

It is amazing to think that any Government in any civilised country would seek to reduce the amount of food it produces, particularly in the UK where we are nowhere near self-sufficiency in food production.

I can only assume the the individual who dreamed up this barmy idea is either in the pay of some foriegn food-exporting nations, hoping to capture our market, or he has had a touch of the old foot-and-mouth, and put his foot right in it.

But the most weird thing about this idea, which will inevitably destroy family farms and put many smaller farmers on the dole, is that it is supported by the NFU headquarters, as the statement by the deputy director-general indicates.

Why would the NFU support an idea which would allow further penetration of our own markets by imported, non-assured foreign crap?

I am vice-chairman of the Wakefield Branch of the NFU and I am quite sure that when my members read your news item, they will be absolutely infuriated that the NFU appears to be co-operating with the socialist Government to put many smaller farmers out of business.

What possible gain is there to Britain or the farming industry to encourage the importation of yet more foreign meat?

Can somebody out there tell me, how do I explain away this damaging situation to my members?
Dick Lindley, Birkwood Farm, Normanton, West Yorkshire; Vice-chairman, Wakefield Branch, NFU
dicklindley@birkwood.fsbusiness.co.uk

Life with Form D

FOR those of you like me under Form D notices, life with livestock is difficult, expensive, frustrating … the list goes on.

My holding, like many farmers, covers not just one farming unit. Some of my land straddles both clean and dirty land, it has been a management headache.

Sorting out extra feed has been an expensive exercise, with some units having loads of grass and no stock and others having no grass and loads of stock.

Movement restrictions make it impossible to fit the stock with the available grass, which means buying in feed.

This is an added expense likely to go on.

MAFF came to visit on Saturday to take blood samples. My sheep run with the cows, so theoretically the cows would immediately show signs of foot-and-mouth if they had it.

But while MAFF wished to blood test the sheep, they showed no interest in the cows. Shouldnt they have done both?

No farm within the 3km zone of the culled case in my area has also been confirmed as a case. So was this original case really positive, or just overkill on MAFFs part.

I have been told it could be up to another 6-8 weeks before we are released from the Form D restrictions. Is the Government going to pay for all those additional feed costs I have had to incur as a result of their restrictions?

I can understand the necessity for the restrictions, but their should be some financial help for those who have no choice but to comply.

renee@oldwhitelion.freeserve.co.uk

Were doing our bit

MUCH sympathy to all the farmers who have been newly afflicted with foot-and-mouth.

I spent the war near Settle and know the area well.

However, it would be nice if some appreciation could be expressed by the farming community, paritcularly in the unaffected counties, to those of us who have been walking our dogs and riding on roads for months.

We know that the danger is still there, but a little appreciation would go a long way!
Judith Shelley, north Hampshire
judy@mfhshelley.fsnet.co.uk