THE worries expressed to an MP by more than 100 farmers at a crowded meeting in Thirsk have been taken up with Mrs Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

Miss Anne McIntosh, MP for the Vale of York, slammed Mrs Beckett for failing to support farmers.

"Thirsk is recovering from the outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease there this summer," said Miss McIntosh. "Farmers expressed their horror and deep concern at the provisions of the Animal Health Bill being brought through Parliament.

"First, the Bill will reduce their compensation to 75pc, without a right of appeal. Second, the Bill fails to address the evidence demonstrated by Thirsk farmers that the disease was spread in many cases by the failure of Defra officials to respect their own stringent biosecurity rules." She had raised these issues on the bill's second reading in the House of Commons on Monday of last week.

Miss McIntosh continued: "Other concerns expressed at the meeting included licensing provisions for animal movements which actually work and are practical, as well as more stringent import controls to prevent the entry of substandard meat; a commitment to the future of the livestock markets and a greater control of supermarkets stocking more home produced, local foods. I raised all these issues on my return to Westminster this week in a comprehensive letter to Margaret Beckett, and in a stream of written questions.

"I am now looking forward to Mrs Beckett's response.