I WRITE in response to the recent reporting by the media of the current ''foot-and-mouth disease'' outbreak and subsequent coverage of the disposal of over a thousand animal carcases in Northumberland. There is always a horrified response to any perceived gratuitous explanations of human suffering but it seems that in the case of our friends in the animal world giving the grisly details is acceptable.

My family run a livestock farm in the Scottish Borders and, while no cases have yet been found in the area, the crisis is affecting them, as all farmers, with travelling away from home curtailed and avoidance measures being employed. Rural deliveries, school runs, and working mothers are all affected enough in their day-to-day lives without having to suffer the distress that comes with hearing grim details being unnecessarily reported on the evening news.

Livestock farmers spend the majority of their time with their animals, getting to know them and their individual characters. In the case of pedigree cattle farmers, they will know each beast by name and family history - often going back by as many as a dozen generations. In any case, the disposal methods employed are traumatic and upsetting - before any monetary question is even considered - and I believe have no place on live television when the public have been tirelessly reminded that they are under no direct threat.

Obviously people must be reassured, but in this case there has never been any suggestion that there is any risk. It is simply another potential body blow to the farming industry and coming on the back of the BSE crisis and subsequent battles with bad weather, from which farming is only just beginning to recover, requires compassion and sensitivity. The media are of the utmost importance in promoting this, and presenting sickening pictures unnecessarily is not the way to do it.

Julia Wilson,

17/6 Hawkhill, Edinburgh.