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Foot & mouth

Posted by John Morrison, Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Yes, this is probably the end of hill farming as weve known it... or at least the beginning of the end. At the last election I read somewhere that hill farming is to the Blair Government what the miners were to the Tories: a chilling notion.

I have friends in farming, mostly in the Dales around Hawes. Life was tough enough even before F & M, for dozens of different reasons. Now it is insupportable. Farmers dont like giving up their farms. Because they traditionally hand on the farm to the next generation, giving up the farm is the very last option. It is a great deal more than losing a job; it represents failure on a scale that a lot of farmers will be unable to cope with. Ironically, F & M will allow many of them to quit without losing too much face. There will simply be no other option once the overdraft rises to the point where the farm itself is no longer sufficient collateral.

We can talk, with justification, about the myriad of problems in food production, but we still need to bear in mind that there will be many more human tragedies before this outbreak is finally damped down.

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