Miles Kington: The new countryside code: beware farmers

'Farmers will only become aggressive if they are faced by their natural enemy: the public'
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The Independent Online

The country is open again for business! That's the exciting message from the Government today. Well, it's a bit more complicated than that.

The actual message reads: "This is the Government calling all counties, everywhere in Britain. Will you please please please open all your footpaths because if you don't, we can't tell people that the countryside is open for business, which we have actually been telling people for six months now, and we're starting to feel a bit foolish telling such blatant lies about the countryside being open for business."

Leaving aside the extraordinary idea that the Government could ever feel foolish when telling lies about anything, this leaves us with the wonderful news that the country is open again for business!

However, although many footpaths are indeed again open, the situation is not yet back to normal, owing to the continuing risk of foot-and-mouth, so we urge all those who go into the countryside to obey the following simple rules.


1. Remember, if you are out and about in the country this summer, you are going to see some very angry creatures who haven't seen the public for months and months.

2. These angry creatures you will see are called farmers.

3. These lonely, sensitive, touchy creatures are likely to become dangerous only if you do not respect their behaviour patterns.

4. This means above all that farmers will only be aggressive if they are faced with their natural enemy.

5. The public.

6. ie you.

7. They imagine, quite fancifully, that you represent a threat to their wellbeing.

8. That is why they hate all the rights of way going across their land.

9. For the last nine months they have been left in peace by a series of footpath closures that have kept walkers off their land.

10. Supposedly, this is because walkers may end up spreading foot-and-mouth disease all over the place.

ll. In fact, no case of foot-and-mouth being spread by a walker has ever been found.

12. We already know how foot-and-mouth is spread.

13. By farmers.

14. Does this mean that all farmers in risky areas should be rounded up and then shot?

15. Very probably.

16. But no government is going to risk the extreme popularity that this action would entail.

17. So for the moment the public must be very careful not to risk annoying farmers, who might easily retaliate by waving a gun in their direction.

18. Or accidentally digging up your favourite footpath.

19. If they haven't done so already.

20. So, if you must go on to a footpath this summer just obey the following simple rules:-

a) Soak your boots in disinfectant for at least 24 hours beforehand.

b) Take your car to pieces before a drive in the country and disinfect each piece between reassembly.

c) Although almost all footpaths are now open, you may encounter many notices saying NO ACCESS.

d) Please respect these, as they have been placed there by farmers to annoy you.

e) Keep all members of your family on a lead.

f) If you should see a farm animal in a field, go home immediately.

g) If you should see a wild animal in a woodland, do not have a go until you know what kind of animal it is. If a fox, do not hunt it with dogs but shoot it and wound it, which is what the Government would prefer. If it is a deer, shoot it and turn it into venison (see our website for delicious recipes). If it is a wild boar, phone your local paper and say: "I have just seen the Wild Beast of Berkshire, and it was nine feet long, with luminous eyes!" If it is a wildman living rough in the woods, he is probably some remnant of a Maff task force, embittered by rejection at the hands of the Government and determined to live off the land far from the human race that spurned him. Don't worry. He will not survive the first few days of autumn.


If you have any queries about the above, simply ring our helpline, which will be permanently engaged.

Thank you for your co-operation.

And help spread the message – the countryside is now open for business!