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As a result of the European Union reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the British government's Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) - headed by Margaret Beckett - has announced new plans which will not classify orchards of apples, pears and other fruits as farmland, from 1st January next year, 2005. This means that the new farm payment scheme will not afford growers of these fruits the same benefits as other farmers ...
The effect of this decision will be that apple and pear growers will be forced out of business unless they grub up their orchards and grow other crops. Many fruit growers have been struggling against cheap foreign imported fruit for years, and for them, this will be the last straw. Insiders predict that areas such as Herefordshire and Somerset, famous for their orchards at blossom time, will see huge bonfires similar to those following the foot and mouth outbreak, as part of our heritage in the form of our ancient fruit trees are burned to make way for more profitable crops. This will devastate the landscape and environment in the affected areas of the country.