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The Curry Report is not as bad as I had thought it would be but is indeed "airy fairy".

Apart from its recommendations which touch on matters such as subsidies - firmly under EU control - it is also very "pie - in -the -sky" about farmers co-operatives.

It is true farmers could get more of the purchase price for their goods by selling at farmers' markets etc. However, what is needed if one is going to concentrate on quality, not quantity, is to persuade the great British public that quality (at a higher price) is what they need. This could be done, but needs the right marketing , After all, farmers were anxious to get back the export markets where our livestock are then sold at a profit to the importer - i.e. someone abroad is prepared to pay more for our expensively produced meat. Daft, isn't it?

I am reminded of a tale I heard of American chickens. At one point the Americans had cheap maize to feed the chickens on but it turned the flesh yellow, which the punters didn't like. That was until some bright spark thought of the idea of "sun-kissed" chicken - and then sold it to an appreciative public at a premium!

Slightly off the point, - I went to a village meeting last night (connected with our Parish Hall). One of our committee, who sits on the Parish Council, mentioned that the Countryside Agency and (believe it or not) DEFRA had a lot of money for village projects - for things such as providing transport to villages, re-roofing the village hall etc. Our village has had many thousands of pounds lately for various village projects which is all very nice. However, not one penny of that has gone into anything sustainable in terms of providing jobs - which is the mainstay of keeping rural communities alive, one presumes. Indeed the Government makes it harder and harder for anyone to employ people due to all the Health &Safety rules and administration involved. We need to spend over £100 for a H&S pack and a wall poster (as from January 2002 apparently) because the village hall employs two (very) part time cleaners. They will never read the notice!

Alas, there seems to be money in abundance - but nothing reallly substantial is achieved with it. I fear the same goes for the Curry report - pretty wrapping, pity about the present inside!

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