TODAY is the second anniversary of the outbreak of the foot and mouth epidemic which devastated northern farms - and many people feel that lessons from the disaster have still to be learned.
In a stark statement issued to mark the anniversary, top country landowners' organiser Douglas Chalmers comments: "Should the worst happen and we have to go through it again, I believe that we are not much better prepared than we were two years ago."
Mr Chalmers is North West Regional Director of the Country Landowners and Business Association whose area includes Cumbria, the worst hit county during the epidemic, and the Ribble Valley around Clitheroe, which was also devastated.
He says: "The scars from that outbreak remain today - visible across some still-under stocked landscapes; visible in the effects on many businesses; or hidden as individuals, families and communities are still coming to terms with the effects of those terrible times."
"We can only hope that lessons have been learned from the much-vaunted, but non-Public Inquiries. Yet I am not at all confident."
- "We need to ask Government to show the farming community that effective contingency plans are in place and will be communicated to all parties concerned
- That proper import controls are now applied so that neither this nor any virus can be brought into the country with food of unknown provenance and quality assurance
- And that the money allocated to rural regeneration be spent quickly, effectively and with the minimum lost in administration."
The outbreak, the CLA records, was the worst ever known anywhere in the world.