Up Front 08/03

August is here and as usual a radical change comes over the countryside. School’s out and countless visitors descend on the towns, villages, beaches and rural areas of the South West. The feel of the local environment changes. For many, the next few months will make or break their businesses for the year and every new face on the horizon is a welcome one. For local farmers and producers, it is a time to show at local country events like the Honiton, Melplash and Dorchester Shows. These shows are also a major opportunity for those not familiar with the countryside to see and meet some of the people who look after and make a living from it. Holidaying members of Parliament and government officials will, of course, be working hard to learn more about what happens outside the city walls – hopefully looking closely at the real results of policies and initiatives implemented before and after the foot and mouth crisis. But when the shows are over, the trailers have gone home and the livestock is back on the farm, will the battle between countryside and city re-commence? Whilst the review of the Common Agricultural Policy may represent one of the most fundamental changes to European farm policy for many years, and while much debate continues on the role of farming and subsidies, one thing is certain – in the years to come there are likely to be even fewer people working in traditional farming, and tourists will probably look for more Disney than country, in country shows.