letter to the Western Morning News

With reference to your leader "Farm cull horror is condemned by EU" (WMN, October 15), may I shed some light upon the suggested ambiguity between the NFU nationally and in the South West over the question of the foot and mouth outbreak contiguous cull.

In fact the South West NFU membership's position was supportive of the NFU national leadership's insofar as it backed contiguous culling but was extremely concerned about the application of the policy which failed to take into account the circumstances on the ground such as livestock being physically separated by, in many cases, long distances and "buffer zones" like woods etc. As a result, many animals were indeed slaughtered unnecessarily.

As far as vaccination was concerned, we were never given any answers as to the consequences of going that route by either the Government or the big retailers. We could have been signing up to a policy which would have seen our stock indefinitely blighted, in which case the "cure" would have caused more long-term damage than the disease.

What we now need desperately is categorical reassurance that the whole dreadful mess would not happen again. The issues surrounding culling and vaccination must be cleared up beyond any doubt before, heaven forbid, we are ever hit again by this dreadful disease.

Richard Haddock Chairman NFU national livestock committee, Kingswear, South Devon