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Country News - 2004

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Grazing fears for rural landscapes

Tesday 30 November 2004

AS BRITAIN'S livestock farmers prepare for the biggest event in their annual calendar - London's Smithfield Show - there is both good and bad news in the air.

One good omen is that, despite hundreds of health fads, the British are eating more beef as memories of the BS scandal fade. Total annual consumption has topped the one million tonnes mark, possibly helped along by a rare pro-meat craze, the Atkins diet.

However, there is deep concern that, in the present complicated negotiations underway as the EU's Common Agricultural Policy is reformed, livestock farmers will get reduced subsidy payments.

And that, says the Country Land and Business Association, could put at risk some of the country's best-loved scenery, including the famous landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.

Smithfield is to be held from December 2 - 5 and the CLA has issued a pre-show statement hoping to bring home to the general public that Britain's landscape was largely created by farmers and their grazing animals.

One keen supporters of the campaign is the Wharfedale born TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh who says: "We need a forward-looking plan to ensure the continued survival of our countryside, and land management is vital. Grazing is an important aspect and needs to be better understood to ensure we can continue to cherish our landscape."

He is backed up by Yorkshire CLA director Dorothy Fairburn who added: "Grazing livestock play a vital role in the management of our most important wildlife habitats, landscape and historical features. Livestock enrich the enjoyment of visitors to the countryside and are the main reason for farmers maintaining thousands of miles of hedgerows and walls."


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