Three week deadline to reply to consultation document
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, which was released a fortnight ago.
It, along with an accompanying economic note and two working papers, provides details about the impact of restructuring agriculture and reducing direct farm 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 livestock farmer Maurice Vellacott said the documents confirmed his belief of a plot to force British farmers out of business and give their markets 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. They will then realise the cavalry is not coming to their rescue this time. Farmers must reply to the consultation and fight for their industrys life, or be prepared to attend its funeral."
Some were already going out of business before the reforms had really started, 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."
MAFF says it will consult on a regional basis with the usual bodies representing farmers and other rural 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. Pig production and milk processing could disappear and be replaced by imports, he said.
The consultation closes on Sept 30. All four documents are available from Lynda Bulford, Room 509, MAFF, Whitehall Place (West), London SW1A 2HH. Alternatively, they can be found on the internet at http://www.maff.uk/farm/agendtwo/agendtwo.htm