the newly appointed 'rural recovery co-ordinator' is none other than Haskins, the chair of Northern Foods and Labour peer.

I have been so depressed by the immorality and cynicism of the government, and this morning my worst fears were confirmed by an article on the front page of the Guardian in which I read that the newly appointed 'rural recovery co-ordinator' is none other than Haskins, the chair of Northern Foods and Labour peer.

In case you haven't read the speech he gave at the launch of the "unofficial enquiry into how to win political support in Europe for reform of the common agricultural policy", here is a choice gobbet quoted in the newspaper:

"A lot of agricultural reformers, like the Prince of Wales, want farmers to stand around being subsidised and making thatched roofs. Well, that's for the birds. Agriculture has got to strive to be more competitive and more productive."

He predicts the disappearance of half Britain's farms in the next twenty years (he doesn't need a crystal ball, since nothing happens by chance in politics) and says that large farms are often more environmentally friendly. I'm not quite sure what he means by that. I had a quick look at NF's own environmental statement on their website and it doesn't amount to much.

Of course, Northern Foods supplies retailers with 'high quality' convenience foods. They will presumably expand into Europe (if they haven't already done so) when subsidies are abolished throughout the EU, and make a killing as small farmers are put out of business.

So, this is the plan: abolish subsidies in the EU; watch as small producers go out of business; send in Northern Foods, headed by a Labour peer, as a main European food supplier and make a killing. Brilliant! What a scam! What a pay-off for supporting a political party!

Looking around for something more positive, I came across the Wholesome Food Association on the Farmtalking website. This group aims to supply food locally from producers who are too small to afford Soil Association membership. I have joined as a supporter. If you are interested in withdrawing your support from agribusiness, and eating local produce, why not get in touch? The website is, and you can print off an application form.

We are fortunate in the northeast having 'Out of this World' as an alternative retail outlet, but even they are obliged to source from other countries. It may be possible to build up a list of local suppliers through the farmers' markets, and bring people together that way.

Phil also gave me the email address of a farming couple who send out summaries of info about FMD to those on their list. They are

Thank you for posting my email on the board. Please feel free to add this too.

Warmest regards,