Foot and Mouth
I agree with John that the plight of hill farmers is worrying. Coming from a family of (originally) farm labourers from Worcestershire, I have to add that the family itself is not over-sympathetic to the 'farmers' down there. My mother was telling me on Sunday that there's one landowner down the South of the county who owns 5 farms. That aint farming; that's business.
With regard to Tony Blair, whatever you may think of him, he is not another Margaret Thatcher, and he wants middle England to love him. Loads of money is being spent on farmers and rural businesses (so less for us through the NHS and schools, one should add). No doubt more could be done, but that will always be the case. The government is actually attempting to be nice to everyone, and to do the right thing. However, as John says, the plight of hill farmers, which goes beyond the present crisis, needs to be looked into.
Having said that, as a redundancy councellor, I work with unfashionable middle aged (usually) men in manual (though often fiercesomly skilled jobs) all the time, whose equally heart-rending plight is not the subject of media hysteria. So, I cannot work out why we are talking about a national emergency. As Simon Jenkins of The Times put it, the last time we delayed an election because of a national emergency we were at war with the Japanese. I think we should be sympathetic to the difficulties of hill farmers, and not just for the time it takes for the media to lose interest in this manufactured national crisis.
One last point .... although I have a lot of time for organic growers, and try to buy local produce when I can, isn't it true to say that some pretty nasty diseases can develop in an organic system? They had a totally organic system in the middle ages, and I don't think public health was substantially better than it is today. I presume some interference by humanity through pharmaceuticals etc. is still entertained as a possibility by organic growers/ farmers?