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received 18 May 2005

Dear Mary,

On the joint subjects of politics / Bellamy + local / food supplies, add in the Single Farm Payment structure and things may change dramatically - in the short term. With SFP, what I found depressing was the message that you really don't need to 'farm' the land at all". Basically just keep it tidy. Bog standard requirement is to 'top' the grass every 4 years. Otherwise leave it to what is euphamistically called 'Nature'

The trouble with that is, that 'nature' didn't create the English landscape - farming did. And the cattle and sheep which warmwell works so hard to protect, are needed to maintain it. Without them, or with different or novel or even 'no' crops - the whole eco system changes. After FMD clearouts, and no cattle/sheep, friends report no dung = no beetles, no birds, no badgers (!) Death valley one called it. A whole lot rests on animal manures on the soil. Has an environmental impact study been done on the likely effect of SFP? Biomass for fuel means willows 10 feet high and 40,000 acres sown to support 1 small power plant! That within 10 miles of said plant. How 'green' is that?

Beckett has done an excellent job, distancing herself from rural issues, but she has openly said that food supplies for the British public would be sourced "from wherever they could be bought most cheaply". Bradshaw, scrambling the greasy (political) pole I was surprised to see back. Still holding the poison chalice of Tb - a position which he told vets " he did not want to be in, when any decision on badger control had to be made". One can only assume that their respective rewards for inertia will be made in - due course!

The Tb figures for March made grim reading. Cattle slaughterings up almost 30 % on 2004. What's the excuse this time I wonder?

We test just 4 cattle next week, after 2 tests with no Reactors, just a retest on the inconclusives. That will be the 22nd consecutive 60 day test - at the taxpayer's expense on a herd that BCMS confirm has 'No bought in cattle'.

Our neighbour tells us he saw a badger wandering in broad daylight a few weeks ago. That isn't good. What on earth makes so called animal lovers want to keep a tuberculous badger alive and suffering, disorientated and weak is beyond me. If we treated cattle like that, quite rightly we would be prosecuted.

Mrs. Miles (lady with letter to Telegraoh) found 5/6 dead badgers on her farm last summer she tells us. This just prior to the test which found the first of her reactors. Dr. John Gallagher tells me that it's classic to find such bodies a couple of years prior to cattle going down, depending on frequency of testing. He wants all badger carcasses postmortemed and if positive (which he says most are) the cattle tested immediately. Friends in Cumbria are seeing a lot of badger carcasses around the Stavely, Kentmere area near Kendal - including one in a field. That is not good news at all.