World News and Trends: The plight of British farmers

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The plight of British farmers

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Their average annual income stands at about £7,500 ($12,000). This decline of farm income in Britain is so marked that the situation has come to the attention of newspaper columnists such as William Rees-Mogg, who wrote in a recent column that "many farmers feel trapped in a financially sick industry in a morally sick society. They feel that society has lost its sense of reality." Observers cite several causes for the malaise among farmers: the failure of an urban-oriented government to recognize the scale of the economic disaster plaguing agriculture; unpopular European regulations emanating from Brussels; the marked rise in rural transportation costs and weather disasters of recent years ranging from droughts to floods. In a time of supermarkets overflowing with groceries, it is easy to forget where food originates. Most comes from seeds grown and plants cultivated by dedicated farmers. The vast majority in the business do not expect to get rich quick from agriculture. As Rees-Mogg remarks: "The disciplines of farming are those of long-term patience and hard work. All farmers have to plan for the long term. It takes a full generation to build up a well-managed farm." For more details of problems plaguing (literally) British farmers, be sure to read "Foot-and-Mouth Disease: A Virus With Global Reach" in this issue. Perhaps it is time for city dwellers to show more appreciation for the agricultural industry-the one that provides the food that graces our tables. (Sources: The Times [London], Daily Mail [London].)