Farm virus impact will last for years

30 August 2001

Farm virus impact will last for years

By Isabel Davies

RURAL communities will suffer for years as a consequence of foot-and-mouth, claims the governments top advisor for rural England.

Countryside Agency chairman Ewen Cameron said the effects of foot-and-mouth had spread beyond farming and areas immediately affected.

Foot-and-mouth has had a profound impact on rural areas, created distress and difficulty for many, threatening livelihoods and the very fabric of rural life.

The agency has attempted to quantify the impact of foot-and-mouth in an update to its State of the Countryside document.

It estimates that the cost of the crisis to the national economy this year could be as high as 4bn, but with different regional and local effects.

Tourism has suffered most, says the report.

Although difficult to assess the impact of the outbreak on other sectors of the rural economy, including farming, it forecasts more bankruptcies and fewer jobs.

The document predicts that rural communities will suffer for years to come.

Mr Cameron said: In the areas hardest hit, such as Cumbria, Devon, parts of Herefordshire, North Yorks and the north-east, its a double blow.

Agriculture was already in recession and many households depended on rural tourism and its suppliers for jobs and income.

Nick Way, director of policy at the Country Land and Business Association, said the statistics in the report showed the magnitude of the whole crisis.

The Countryside Alliance said the report highlighted the fact that all aspects of rural life were affected, from farming and tourism to rural sports and pursuits.

Countryside Alliance chief executive Richard Burge said the whole countryside was endangered even if only one aspect of the rural economy was undermined.

Real long-term initiatives were needed so people could forge their own future.


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