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In my garden, the lilac tree is getting ready to flower (early this year) and I remember sitting out there last May, in a garden full of singing birds and the lovely scent of lilac, and feeling heavy with sadness and hopelessness. This was after the slaughter of the Winslades' cattle.

Nearly a year later, I still feel the same feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. However hard we struggle, it seems that everything is inexorably rushing onwards - factory farming, disappearing abattoirs, export of live creatures, import of meat and vegetables from all over the world, multi-nationals, GM crops, animal cloning, vivisection, etc, etc.

DEFRA sends out ever more directives to us all (usually 2 copies of each, for some bizarre reason!!); if FMD appears again, they will probably follow exactly the same policy as last time (or one even more draconian); and the Animal Health (Amendments) Bill, although temporarily halted, is still lurking in the wings, ready to reappear.

If only we could vaccinate against FMD, this would do away with the need for killing, and the need for so many rules and regulations, having to tag all our animals, and so on - but routine vaccination seems as far away still as the moon.

'We'll gather lilacs in the spring again' was one of my mother's favourite songs when she was alive; I think of it now with a deep yearning; not a nostalgic yearning, but a yearning for standards of decency and compassion, and a government which cares for animal welfare. OK, it's going to ban fox-hunting - but what about the endless millions of animals who spend their whole lives living unnaturally and suffering?

How can we wake up people in this country? How can we persuade people to love and protect our beloved countryside, and the people and animals who live in it, before it is too late?

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