Foot-and-mouth victim calls for help

4 January 2002

Foot-and-mouth victim calls for help

By Adrienne Francis in Oxford

A FORMER farm leader from a county devastated by foot-and-mouth disease has called for more help so marginal farms can recover.

Alistair Wannop, past chairman of Cumbria National Farmers Union, said such farms occupied a significant area which must not remain unsupported.

“We must find a way of helping these areas,” he told delegates at the Oxford Farming Conference on Friday (4 January).

Incentive schemes such as the Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme should be more widely applied throughout the countryside, he suggested.

Mr Wannop said he was keen to develop the debate on how some good could come out of the disastrous blow dealt by foot-and-mouth disease.

Before the crisis, his farm had 650 head of livestock, including 290 dairy cows, as well as some 160 hectares (400 acres) of cereal crops.

Mr Wannop acknowledged that farmers had been slow to embrace marketing “until the cathartic moment” of foot-and-mouth.

But the Cumbrian County Council Rural Action Zone could prove to be a constructive way for farmers to shape future policy, he said.

The organisation, founded by Cumbria County Council, links farmers with other rural stakeholders, including tourism and catering businesses.

“We could apply these ideas more widely,” he said.

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