Letter: Farmers fight back

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The Independent Online
Sir: To compare agriculture to any other industry is impossible. Food is not a commodity in the same way that electricity, cars or records (as you suggest) are. Now, more than ever, we need confidence in our food; that means efficient regulation and traceability of, where possible, home- produced food.

It is true to say that farmers, faced with new technology, have polluted the environment, as have the chemical, extraction and manufacturing industries. The intensification of agriculture was in response to government and, latterly, EU policies. However, the countryside (which according to you, has been "sprayed, chopped down and polluted") is proving a strong magnet for the urban populace. Perhaps we haven't been too barbaric.

Agriculture is an export-led industry and a significant positive contributor to the balance of payments. So it is not the weather or some other "trivial" factor, but the strength of sterling that is the source of the current turmoil.

MICHAEL STUBBS

Department of Agricultural Economics and Business Management

Wye College, University of London

Wye, Kent

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