3 April 2001
Double whammy of foot-and-mouth
by FWi staff
AREAS hit hardest by foot-and-mouth are already among the most deprived rural regions in the country, claims research published on Tuesday (3 April).
The third annual report of the Countryside Agency says Northumberland, Cumbria, and the south-west are the most deprived rural areas in England.
The State of the Countryside 2001 report says a key problem for these areas is an over-dependence on the narrow economic base of farming and tourism.
Ewen Cameron, chairman of the Countryside Agency, said the picture was relatively happy for many people in rural England but not everywhere.
The remoter parts of rural England consistently suffer real and enduring deprivation, he said.
Those areas include the south-west, the coastal area stretching from Norfolk through Lincolnshire, and north Cumbria and Northumberland,
Their economies and communities are already fragile and now in many of these areas foot-and-mouth has devastated farming and tourism with little other business to cushion the blow.”
Mr Cameron said the only way back for these communities would be heavy and ongoing investment through area based regeneration initiatives.
People needed to realise that people visit the countryside because of the unique landscape that has been created over generations of farming, he added.
Society and farmers need to examine what they want from each other.
Thinking about rewarding farmers for different services that land managers can provide, rather than just food production, makes more sense than ever.
Farmings direct contribution to the national economy has declined to less than one per cent gross added value (GVA) for the first time, the report says
Referring to a survey carried out by ADAS in 2000 it says that farming attitudes are generally pessimistic, especially among livestock farmers.
About 12% of livestock farmers agreed that farming has no future – I intend to give it up compared to 6% who agreed with the statement in 1999.
But while painting a bleak picture of some of the remoter areas the report makes it clear that for many the situation is much more hopeful.
In general, people in rural England enjoy slightly better levels of income, health and education and suffer less from crime than their urban counterparts.
- Rural visitors spend 8.4bn a year, FWi, 31 May 2000
- Tourists prefer traditional farms, FWi, 25 March 1999