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Yorkshire Post

Blackmail claim over Government's plans for farming

From: Paul Stephens, Moor Farm, West Heslerton, Malton.

I AM not sure whether the Government is deliberately trying to destroy farming and the rest of the country, or is blind to the real world.

The Government is continually making misleading statements, such as Margaret Beckett's recent announcement that farmers will be rewarded for looking after the countryside. In truth, the new scheme that has been announced is a matter of your subsidy being reduced by modulation if you do not comply.

Farmers don't want subsidies. We would like a fair, unsubsidised price for our produce, but this would mean higher prices on the supermarket shelves, which would do the Government's figures no good at all. The farmer, in effect, isn't subsidised; it is the shopper that is getting food at a subsidised price. So the taxpayers' money is doing the full circle.

Therefore, going back to Margaret Beckett's statement which in truth states that if farmers don't comply then their income will be reduced by 30 per hectare. This is pure blackmail.

This is just one of so many political cover-ups. On the news, it is revealed that feathers which could carry bird flu are still being imported from the Far East. Just like foot-and-mouth, we don't have these terrible diseases in this country at the moment. The only way they can enter is by importing them. The Government has obviously forgotten about foot-and-mouth because our import controls are minimal.

In countries like Australia, which has strict import controls, they look after their farmers and their country by keeping viruses out. One example is equine influenza. In this country horses have to be vaccinated for it not in Australia because they stop it entering the country.

The big difference with the avian influenza is that it is a human killer as well. So if the Government doesn't wake up today, it will not only be destroying farming, but our lives as well.