Letter: Countryside March

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ANDREAS Whittam Smith's article appears well balanced, until we get to "If we stopped sheltering agriculture from market forces we would get much cheaper food."

I farm cows for milk, hens for eggs, and wheat to feed the hens. "Market forces" have reduced the milk price to farmers by 20 per cent without any noticeable drop in dairy product prices. Wheat is now trading at pounds 80 per tonne instead of pounds 110 just over a year ago. Is your bread cheaper? The farmer is getting less than 40p per dozen for eggs sold in supermarkets for pounds 1.20 per dozen. Romanian and Hungarian chickens are being imported at such low prices that I am being offered, 2p per bird for end-of-lay chickens that five months ago would have made 14p per bird, and a year ago 38p.

We are, on top of all these problems, being attacked for hunting with hounds, are expected to give unlimited access, and are being vilified for making fields into an economic size with which to compete with the world price of food. Now do you see why we are lighting beacons and marching?

ROGER STRATTON

Keynsham, Bristol

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