Letter: Dangers of beef

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I was born in east London and have lived all my adult life in Smethwick in the Black Country. There hasn't been a farmer or farm labourer in my family tree for more than 200 years. I have every right to claim that I am as ignorant, as unqualified and as ill-informed as David Aaronovitch about rural issues and our farming communities ("I'm sorry, but I don't care where my food comes from", 29 October).

It came as one of life's great surprises to find myself representing the farming communities of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the European Parliament between 1994 and 1999.

I can honestly say that David Aaronovitch's crude caricature does not do justice to our farming communities, who are all struggling against massive odds to make a living.

We are fortunate to have one of the most efficient agricultural industries in Europe which is prepared to adapt to changing consumer demand and produce a high-quality product. Our farmers are the stewards of the countryside and do much to protect our rural hinterland. They provide important commodities which secure downstream processing jobs in urban communities.

I have seen how hard many of our farmers work and, on occasions, seen their accounts. They deserve better than David Aaronovitch's townyistic outbursts.

DAVID HALLAM

Smethwick, West Midlands

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