The current foot-and-mouth epidemic is a direct result of cost-cutting farm practices and lack of supervisory control, the latter coming about as a result of the number of government vets being slashed under Thatcher.
Additionally, if the farmers spent as much time on applying total quality management to their businesses as they do protesting on issues like fuel, there would be no problem. By now it must be apparent to even MAFF scientists that this awful disease is not being spread by humans.
What we need to do now is to stop the absurd practice of closing off the countryside; there is absolutely no need to close woodland walks, stop horse racing and generally stop people from going about their everyday business. The only places out of bounds should be the farms.
In the meantime the best advice accountants can give farmers is to work with government and their advisers to eradicate foot-and-mouth and get the message across that they should spend less time protesting and taking legal action, thereby delaying resolution of this problem.
Malcolm Howard, Surrey
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