In a letter to agriculture minister Douglas Hogg, the leader of West Devon BC Alison Clish-Green said today:
'The impact (of BSE) on local economies has already been dramatic with councils reporting significant job losses in the slaughtering industry and all the other dependent agricultural businesses all over the country.
'In the medium term, government consideration should be given to:
-- establishing a food commission separate from MAFF
-- investment in a comprehensive UK-wide beef quality assurance scheme
-- monitoring the effects on the rural economy of this continuing crisis and, if necessary, earmarking appropriate funds for economic regeneration targeted at areas suffering long term damage.'
Cllr Clish-Green, whose group represents 44 districts, adds that rural England is in serious trouble and a positive response from the government is essential.
Local government in these badly affected areas, she said, is prepared to play a full part in doing what it can to assist and hopes the government will recognise that local communities - with the right aid and support - are capable of doing much to improve the situation.
'We feel the government has a responsibility not only for short term action, but also for longer term monitoring and action to mitigate the future consequences of the crisis and to ensure that it does not happen again.'