10 September 1999
Just three weeks to reply to MAFF

By John Burns

FARMERS have only three weeks left to respond to the current government consultation on the industrys future.

According to MAFF, very few responses have so far been received to the consultation document, A New Direction for Agriculture, released a fortnight ago.

Along with an accompanying economic note and two working papers, the document gives details about restructuring agriculture and reducing subsidies.

Anthony Gibson, the NFUs south-west regional director, agreed that there had been very little response from the unions members.

The documents contained some alarming statements and there were many very important decisions to be made, he said.

Devon farmer Maurice Vellacott said he believed British farmers would be forced out of business and their markets given to overseas producers.

We are experiencing the death of British farming, he said. Farmers must wake up from their trance and get these documents and read them.

Farmers must reply to the consultation and fight for their industrys life, or be prepared to attend its funeral.

Some producers were already going out of business, added Mr Vellacott, who sees very few winners if the reforms are fully implemented.

One thing is certain; if any British farms are to survive the reforms, all the bureaucracy and extra costs imposed on us will have to go.

A MAFF spokesman said the ministry would consult on a regional basis with the usual bodies representing farmers and other interests before making any decisions.

Mike Hart, of the Small and Family Farms Alliance, urged farmers to reply to the consultation which threatened whole sectors of farming.

The consultation closes on 30 September. All four documents can be found on the internet at: http://www.maff.uk/farm/agendtwo/agendtwo.htm