Peter Hogg

30 November 2001

Peter Hogg

Peter Hogg farms in

partnership with his brother

at Causey Park Farm, near

Morpeth, Northumberland.

Half the 450ha (1100-acre)

heavyland farm is in crops,

mainly winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape,

plus a few potatoes

A FEW years ago the "Farmers Goods" class of road tax on wagons was abolished and farmers sold their wagons. Then new regulations on livestock trailers came in and the local authorities blitzed livestock marts dishing out prosecutions.

About the same time mind-boggling red tape started strangling local abattoirs, forcing them to close and ministry vets blind obedience to rules seemed to be clouding their judgement, leading them to prosecute farmers for taking lame animals to slaughter.

The result is that our ability to take sick animals to local abattoirs, where qualified and experienced meat handlers could tell whether an animal was simply a bit off colour or suffering from something more serious, has been systematically and methodically destroyed.

If you wanted to write a book about enemy agents infiltrating government to destroy our agricultural industry you could not have made up such a plot.

Yet the plot thickens.

New right-to-roam legislation and the relaxation of quarantine laws means possibly diseased pets can return from abroad and wander into the middle of a flock of sheep the next day.

Our own armed forces must follow purchasing rules that mean 90% of their food comes from abroad. If it wasnt for all these circumstances the horrific chapter of foot-and-mouth disease might have been avoided.

But the book goes on with directives on employment law, health and safety, veterinary products, on-farm feed mixing, landfill, nitrates, pesticides, sheep dip, water frameworks, pollution prevention, climate change, soil erosion, waste management, etc, etc.

In later chapters, a hunting ban removes a means of getting rid of fallen stock, followed up with a ban on farmers burying animals that used to go to the hounds.

By now the readers of the book could be forgiven for thinking the plot is becoming far-fetched, even ridiculous. The tragedy is that this is no work of fiction, it is all true.

I will copy this column to various big names within DEFRA. I shall keep you informed of the replies. &#42

Have you read the book about enemy agents infiltrating government to destroy UK agriculture? asks Peter Hogg.

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