The End of British Farming By Andrew O'Hagan

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The Independent Culture

Rushed into the shops before the effects of the current crisis are fully known, this slim volume nonetheless isn't offering any hope. It really is as grim and final as the title suggests. While reminding us that farming as most people like to imagine it hasn't existed in Britain since before the war, O'Hagan investigates why, even in its present highly industrialised state, it's no longer viable. Subsidies and supermarkets share most of the blame, while the strong pound and the BSE and FAM crises haven't helped. O'Hagan visited farmers all over the country and, while not uncritical, tells their stories with sympathy and sensitivity. Until the surreal, tragicomic climax, that is, when vets, slaughterhouse workers and the army join forces to destroy livestock and the book starts to resemble Magnus Mills's The Restraint of Beasts.

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