An Open Letter to the Electorate from North Cumbria

This General Election is being fought over the issues that would seem to
affect most of us in some way.  Health, Education, Europe, Transport, How
approachable Tony Blair is etc, etc - but never once I have heard mentioned
anything regarding Foot and Mouth.  It was not even mentioned in the Labour
Candidate's manifesto for West Cumbria, an area which has seen many farmers
livelihoods destroyed. 

 

I live in North Cumbria and over the past three
months Foot and Mouth has ravaged this County like the plague once did
centuries ago.  Apart from the great sadness at seeing so many lovely
animals slaughtered, many of which were healthy, people's lives and a way of
living handed down to them over centuries have been criminally taken from
them. 

 

Many of these farmers and their families will never return to
farming; the land probably being sold to larger landowners from the South
of the Country. It would seem that we are moving to large company owned
intensive farms. The day of the small family farmer has almost come to an
end - which to my way of thinking is not good for us, the buying public - but
then what would I know?

I realise that this is of no importance to the people in the towns and
cities.  I can only hope that if they had been shown the true picture then
they would have had more compassion and understanding. As it is, it is far
too late for that, as millions of animals have already been destroyed and
are still being destroyed.  But - as it has not made the slightest difference
to the way most people eat and shop - there has been no need to become
involved.

We all have to buy our produce from somewhere and do we really care whether
it has been produced in this Country or overseas?   It would seem not,
because whilst our Government, in cahoots with the National Farmers Union,
was busy dithering over and lying over the vaccination question, you and I
were unknowingly buying imported vaccinated meat from the supermarkets.

Not so long ago the EU made us close most of our small local abattoirs down
because they did not comply with the EU regulations to limit the risk from
BSE.  This meant that most of our livestock had to face journeys of hundreds
of miles to be slaughtered.  The animals' welfare was suffering because of this
and it also increased the risk of spreading disease far and wide - as has been
so graphically illustrated.

We import meat into this Country from other Countries and if the EU
has its way we will import even more meat from these Countries.  What do you
imagine the state of welfare and hygiene facilities is like in some of these
Countries?  Before we put our own farmers out of business should we not ask
and be told where we are buying our produce from?  Not so long ago there was
a campaign which said 'Buy British' or 'I'm Backing Britain'.  Those
sentiments seem to have long gone. True, to buy British might cost more, but
then what are the alternatives? To buy meat and other produce from
Countries that we have NO idea about regarding welfare and hygiene
standards?  It might look every bit as good as the British product on the
supermarket shelf - but HOW do you know? Is it worth the risk? As consumers
is the way we really want to go?

As for intensive factory farming methods - from egg to the table with the
poor chicken never once seeing daylight and packed full of growth hormones -
is that what we want?  Cheap, cruel  food that has no taste at all. 

 

We, as consumers, control the market and in doing so have a powerful say.  USE IT.
If we DO NOT buy it, the product and the supplier will go out of business
unless they produce what we want in the way we want it produced.

Which leads me back to where I started: foot and mouth. If foot and mouth
was intended to take as many farmers out of farming as possible so that
other Countries could step in and fill that gap - then why?  Before you put
your x against the Labour candidate, ask why the rural communities of this
Country needed to suffer and see so many beautiful healthy animals
slaughtered. Are really fighting foot and mouth in our Countryside?

If you do not like or believe what you hear - put your x elsewhere.


Coleen Taylor