http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-429608,00.html

Letters to the Editor:
Still taking liberties with our livelihood
THE Liberty and Livelihood march was good-natured but also deeply serious  -- “No taxation without Morris dancing”  and also threats: “Next time we’ll bring our tractors”; “Just try locking this lot up”.

I do not hunt, but I am prepared to go to prison in the cause of freedom. Many banners reminded the government that hunting has been banned only once: by Adolf Hitler.

The government has learnt nothing from last year’s foot and mouth epidemic. The reports published by the National Audit Office and by Dr Iain Anderson’s Lessons Learned Inquiry are disgraceful whitewashes.

A government preaching “transparency” refuses to disclose key documents, let alone hold a public inquiry into a catastrophe that cost £10 billion and 70 suicides. A year after the epidemic ended, there is no contingency plan, nor a serious attempt to stop the illegal import of meat. Two sniffer dogs at Heathrow check the luggage of 60m passengers.

The government’s 20-day standstill rule, which is pointless and unworkable, is crippling the livestock industry.

The forthcoming Animal Health Bill, likewise based on doubtful science and opposed by many leading vets, will give officials the power to wipe out half our native sheep breeds.

Thus the government, which pays lip service to a “vibrant rural economy”, strangles us with overregulation. On our farm we produce best quality beef and lamb, raised to the highest welfare standards. But we cannot compete with countries with lower wages and regulatory standards — or even with other European Union countries more generously supported by their governments. And UK farmers’ support from Brussels is devalued by 20%-30% because of the strength of sterling against the euro. Is it any wonder we feel embattled, and are prepared to do more than march in defence of liberty and livelihood?

Lady Emma Tennant
Newcastleton, Roxburghshire