Ministers urged to consider recovery


12 July 2001



Ministers urged to consider recovery

By John Burns, south-west England correspondent

THE government has been urged to consider a 10-point plan to make farming more sustainable and help recovery in areas hard hit by foot-and-mouth disease.

A delegation from Devon and Cumbria outlined the plan to Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael at a meeting in London on Tuesday (July 10).

Devon County Council executive chairman, Brian Greenslade, said: “The situation facing farming, tourism and the wider economy in Devon is serious.”

But the solutions offered by the delegation were serious, he added, and there was is a real opportunity to turn the crisis round to the benefit of everyone.

The foot-and-mouth crisis had highlighted concern that animals were hauled long distances because local abattoirs had been closed, said Mr Greenslade.

It had also highlighted the the impact of supermarkets on farm prices, he said.

The concept of cheap food was being challenged as the public realised that the Common Agriculture Policy cost taxpayers 3.5 billion a year, added Mr Greenslade.

“A further 2.3bn a year was spent on cleaning up the impact of intensive food production practices such as water pollution and soil erosion,” he said.

Foot-and-mouth had highlighted the close relationship between farming, environmental quality, and the economy – particularly tourism.

The 10-point recovery plan is estimated to need 180m funding from the government and European Union sources, said the delegation.

Proponents argue to would establish a vision and development programmes for farming in Devon and reopen public rights of way for walkers.

The programme would see encourage sales of local produce, organic farming, co-operative ventures, new local abattoirs, forestry and renewable energy.

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