Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drastic Action Is Needed

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drastic Action Is Needed

Article excerpt

THE GOVERNMENT has reacted swiftly and toughly to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The Ministry of Agriculture knows that it has to live down the memory of the BSE epidemic, when Whitehall responded with shameful sluggishness and ineffectiveness. This time, both ministers and Min of Ag officials and scientists have shown their recognition that they must act fast, to have any hope of avoiding a national disaster. The Government's advice discouraging urban dwellers from movement to and from the affected zones is drastic indeed - yet rightly so. The severity of the threat justifies strong precautionary measures until it is clear how far this highly contagious disease has spread.

Some town dwellers may be tempted to feel detached from the new plague, since unlike BSE, it does not affect human health. Yet the welfare of the countryside is a vital interest for us all. If the disease runs rampant, the cash cost to the taxpayer will run into hundreds of millions of pounds. The damage to rural communities could be graver still. Farming is already staggering under a series of crushing economic blows. Farmers are leaving the land in unprecedented numbers. If now the compulsory mass slaughter of livestock has to be overlaid on existing burdens, no amount of compensation would remedy the predicament in which affected livestock farmers will find themselves. The green fields of England would look sadly empty and desolate without beasts grazing them, yet there is a real danger that livestock farming in this country will tip over into chronic decline under the weight of cost pressures, the shift in favour of vegetarian diet, and now possible foot-and-mouth. We must all hope fervently that the latest outbreak can be contained. The Government and farming industry deserve the support of the public in adopting every measure necessary to combat a peril that has implications for all of us, and for the countryside we value so much.

People's Palace

CRYSTAL PALACE football club is to give refunds to all fans who went to Barnsley on Tuesday night to see their team lose 1- 0 in an abysmal performance.

Palace chairman Simon Jordan, a mobile phone millionaire, declared himself 'appalled' by the display and commented after the game: 'I have a responsibility to ensure our fans get respect, commitment and value for money'. …

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