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Warmwell Front Page ARCHIVE September 2002
Read a digest of the EU Temporary Committee's Draft Report on FMD
Sept 30 ~ "what a bunch of deficient officials in a panic can do with a curable disease in a year and a half."
Captain Bryn Wayt is incensed at the behaviour of DVM Jan Kelly in Cornwall "..... Maybe she should practise telephone conferencing with Brussels, as they will be taking over any FMD control, since the UK proved to the world what a bunch of deficient officials in a panic can do with a curable disease in a year and a half.
This woman we call a DVM waits till there is actually a real-time FMD scare on her doorstep before she lifts a finger, "to decide what the process should be........" that is just shameful unprofessionalism and deserves proportionate ridicule."
Sept 29/30 ~ "I do not hunt, but I am prepared to go to prison in the cause of freedom"
Times letter to the Editor from Emma Tennant: "Still taking liberties with our livelihood"
"THE Liberty and Livelihood march was good-natured but also deeply serious -- "No taxation without Morris dancing" and also threats: "Next time we'll bring our tractors"; "Just try locking this lot up". I do not hunt, but I am prepared to go to prison in the cause of freedom. Many banners reminded the government that hunting has been banned only once: by Adolf Hitler.
The government has learnt nothing from last year's foot and mouth epidemic. The reports published by the National Audit Office and by Dr Iain Anderson's Lessons Learned Inquiry are disgraceful whitewashes.
A government preaching "transparency" refuses to disclose key documents, let alone hold a public inquiry into a catastrophe that cost £10 billion and 70 suicides. A year after the epidemic ended, there is no contingency plan, nor a serious attempt to stop the illegal import of meat. Two sniffer dogs at Heathrow check the luggage of 60 million passengers. .."
See also Jonathan Miller's Mean Fields column "In Britain, meanwhile, the madmen are not just spitting abuse but are actually in charge. "
Sept 29 ~ Ignore marchers' anger at your peril, Mr Blair
Telegraph today "The government's chief adviser on the countryside will warn Tony Blair this week that rural frustration will spill into civil disobedience if he ignores concerns raised during the Liberty and Livelihood march in London.
Ewen Cameron, the chairman of the Countryside Agency, who was appointed Mr Blair's rural advocate two years ago, will tell the Prime Minister that the protesters are angry at the Government's failure to tackle problems that "drain the lifeblood" from the countryside...."
Sept 27/29 ~" unacceptable to permit the loss of significant genetic material in susceptible breeds by the rapid application of National Scrapie Plan..."
Rare Breeds International's response to the NSP modifications proposals: extract:
" It would be unacceptable to permit the loss of significant genetic material in susceptible breeds by the rapid application of NSP when tests to distinguish between BSE and scrapie will be available in the near future. The paper makes the following recommendations:
- That the deadlines of 2006 and 2008 are removed for breeds in group 3C. If it is not possible to remove deadlines, they should be extended to at least 2014 and 2018 to permit three normal generations of breeding. This would not help breeds with a negligible frequency of ARR, but breeds with a frequency of circa 10% ARR/ARR would have some opportunity to avoid significant genetic erosion.
- That the deadlines are replaced by a programme of scrapie-monitoring for breeds in group 3C, and that animals from these breeds should be permitted to enter the food chain on the basis of scrapie-monitoring results.
- That the development of tests to identify the presence of scrapie, and to distinguish between BSE and scrapie, should be developed as rapidly as possible and that substantial Government aid should be given to research in this field.
- That re-testing free of charge should be provided for animals where results indicate probable inaccuracies. The full implementation of the programme should proceed only on the basis of reliable results." See more
Sept 27/29 ~ their addiction to self-interest gives the Government the opportunity to divide the industry
RBI's report (Rare Breeds International and Northern Short-Tailed Sheep Group) in the early stages of their opposition to the AHB, was published on the warmwell website last year - and the battle-lines remain as then. The implementation of NSP has been modified, but remains essentially the same. The problem is that some breeds with high scrapie-resistance favour rapid and drastic implementation of NSP, and their addiction to self-interest gives the Government the opportunity to divide the industry. Warmwell deplores the lack lustre attitude of the government towards the problems so evident in the National Scrapie Plan. It seems that Alan Dickinson's experiences are reflected in most dealings with this Government: "....No doubt those who planned these changes thought that by concentrating scientists in 'centres of excellence', better science would result for less money. They defend their actions by saying that they had no choice. They are right in so far as the driving force was the Treasury. Its dark presence lurks throughout the whole BSE saga as insidiously as the agent of the disease itself."
Sept 27/29 ~Continuing challenge over the advance of the Animal Health Bill
"The Animal Health Bill," writes a group called the ANIMAL LEGISLATION INFORMATION GROUP, "proposes changes to the original Animal Health Act, giving the Government unprecedented authority to seize and destroy animals in effectively any contingency. The House of Lords stalled it on the grounds that it gave Ministers draconian powers, which were entirely inappropriate and open to abuse. .."
And of STATUTORY INSTRUMENT 843 they write, "We have lodged an application in the High Court seeking a Judicial Review into the SI, as we believe it crucially exceeds the terms of the European legislation on which it is based. .." read more
Sept 27 ~ Professor Thomas and his links to DEFRA, the FSA and Sir John Krebs
Many people have privately expressed to us their disquiet about the Cumbria report. Here, Nick Green in an open letter to Mr Louis Victory, the Chief Executive of Cumbria County Council, mentions his own dismay at what he has discovered to be the lack of independence of the Cumbria Report's Chairman, Professor Phil Thomas.
"...I note that Mr Toft was careful to state that the Chairman of the Cumbria FMD committee would have to be "independent". Was it therefore a good choice to appoint someone who has worked very closely with MAFF/DEFRA and is a former government advisor on animal feeds? Prof. Thomas is an ex. Chairman of AMTRA, an independent regulatory body whose task it is to ensure that the distribution of animal medicines in the UK is undertaken in a responsible manner. Interestingly, the board of AMTRA consists of two directors appointed by DEFRA and one each from the NFU and the BVA. He was also the Chairman of ACAF, advisory committee on Animal Feeding Stuffs for MAFF. A three-year appointment commencing in April 1999. Again, interestingly, the secretary was Mr Tony Hitching of DEFRA. Oddly, Prof. Thomas resigned as Chairman before his contract was complete in May 2001, bang in the middle of FMD.
This organisation (ACAF) has major connections with the Food Standards Agency and its Chairman Sir John Krebs, who is great friends with Prof. King, government Chief Scientist and Prof. Roy Anderson who was part of the team who dreamed up the illegal 3km cull.
Krebs said of Prof. Thomas, "Phil Thomas has chaired ACAF with distinction for the last two years. The Committee's latest annual report, published a few days ago, is testimony to the time and effort that its chairman and members have put into considering sensitive issues of great public concern, such as GM ingredients in animal feeds."
All very neat & tidy. It is inconceivable to believe that any of these people, who are all linked in some way or another, would criticise each other. An independent Chairman? No way. This report will go down in history, along with the LLI report and other government sponsored inquiries as a scandalous whitewash. Inaccurate, incomplete hog-wash!"
Sept 26 ~ Almost a whole year ago the last official case of FMD was recorded on Sunday 30th September.
The animals belonged to Messrs J W Watson of Whygill Head Farm, Little Asby, Appleby in Cumbria. We feel sorry for this farmer who is now likely to be inundated with journalistic requests for comments.
And what exactly has been the fruit borne by the Inquiries, the heart-searching, the money lavished on the production of the various reports, the travelling to the Inquiries by those both concerned and desperate to prevent such a haphazard slaughter happening again? What have been the lessons learned to enable Jan Kelly DVM for Cornwall to show the country that things would never happen again as they happened then? We had this week the odd story of one bull with a torn tongue (many many animals who were ill advised enough to eat thistles were slaughtered out of hand last year, together with their entire herd and flock and with thousands of others in "contiguous" premises) - and how was that scare handled? The same dithering ("phone conferencing" to Elliott Morley) the same lack of communication to those farmers with most to lose, the same self-justification from the officials and the same woeful lack of understanding of the disease - and restrictions are likely to remain on farms in the vicinity of this supposed "outbreak" until the weekend - causing problems for farmers hoping to move animals to market. . (See newspaper page for excellent coverage by the independently owned Western Morning News)
A whole year. No lessons learned. And the heartbreak continues with the juggernaut progress of the Animal Health Bill.
Sept 26 ~ Hoggets slaughtered by DEFRA?
Defra's licence to kill appears to have been used yet again. Common sense nowhere to be seen... A Cumbrian farmer tells us that there is a rumour in Cumbria that "a load of mule gimmer hoggs that were sent from Hawes auction were slaughtered after the vehicle was stopped by DEFRA on its journey south. The driver was found to be without the licence. The licence is said to have been found later in the farmer's pocket."
Has anyone further details of this?
Sept 26 ~ Why we were marching - the view of the NFMG
Nearly a year after the last case the future is not looking bright and - as they said on their banners on Sunday and as we have just seen in Cornwall - no lessons have been learned. The National Foot and Mouth Group send this message:
A Year on from the Foot and Mouth Crisis the Government has no Contingency Plan in place to deal with another outbreak any differently than it did in 2001. The Royal Society recommendations have not been acted upon, no provision has been made to use Vaccination and the Government has given no indication that it intends to do so.
- No Lessons Learnt from Foot and Mouth
- An Animal Health Bill set to make the same mistakes again
- No Government Blue Print for a Sustainable Future for Rural Britain
Instead the Animal Health Bill is due to proceed without debate. A Bill that will even further extend and increase the Minister's powers to seize and slaughter farm animals and livestock. A Bill that has not been founded on substantive scientific or empirical data and information.
A Year on there has still been no critical, independent analysis of the epidemiological data about Foot and Mouth; there has been no proper Inquiry...." read more
Sept 26 ~ Prince Charles' words were written in the spring - in a private letter - and only leaked on the morning of the march
"There is something really terrible and shocking here" (Telegraph) Just as the news of Prince Harry's experiment with "pot" was leaked months later on the day that Prince Charles showed support for research into BSE challenging the dogma of the "rogue prion" theory of the grant-tarts, some traitorous Minister provided the huge headlines that disgraced the front pages on Sunday.
The Telegraph Opinion today : "Prince Charles is entitled to a private correspondence with ministers, and has written, often in critical terms, to ministers of both parties for more than 20 years. In these letters, an appropriate concern for the sufferings of the underdog, whether rural or urban, black or white, has been a consistent theme. His only fault was naivete in the world of spin. Mr Liddle, (i.e. Rod Liddle, Editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme which failed to mention the March at all on Monday morning) on the other hand, displays the most blatant bias, animus, and even party allegiance, while running an important news programme for the corporation whose charter insists on the absence of all three. .As a result of his bias, the BBC's most important political programme failed to report properly the largest protest march in British history. If 400,000 trade unionists or members of an ethnic minority or feminists had marched, and Mr Liddle had not reported it, he would assuredly - and rightly - have been sacked. Yet we can be sure that Mr Liddle's position this morning is secure. There is something really terrible and shocking here, as there is in the Government's determination to ignore the march...Civil peace and democracy really are endangered if honest, non-violent and dedicated protesters - whether right or wrong - are treated with Mr Liddle's contempt."
Sept 26 ~ ridiculing the heir to the throne's compassion
Warmwell was - as were many others - sustained by Prince Charles' evident sympathy and behind-the-scenes support for those worst hit by the FMD fiasco. We are thoroughly disgusted by innuendo against His Royal Highness - whatever its provenance and motive. The Telegraph today puts it well. "Was Was Number 10 really so rattled by the Liberty and Livelihood March that it was deemed vital to rubbish it by ridiculing the heir to the throne's compassion - however infelicitously expressed - for the beleaguered farming community? And it is scarcely imaginable that the Lord Chancellor is really so arrogant and petty that his underlings feel themselves at liberty to distribute selected extracts from the Prince's personal correspondence with their master." Read Jonathan Dimbleby's article We need Charles to speak up and ministers to listen " ".......he also knows that there is a crucial distinction between his right to express strong views on matters of public controversy and his obligation to remain above the party fray."
( If anyone is so ignorant as to think that Charles cares for only one section of the more unfortunate in Britain, they will read: ) "....It has never been easy. In the 1980s he fell foul of Margaret Thatcher, with his repeated public warnings about "the desperate plight of the inner cities" which she evidently regarded as a personal rebuke. She was also irritated by his attempt to persuade her that local community leaders should be directly involved in any government strategy to help the alienated out of the vortex."
Sept 26 ~ "I have got absolutely no adjectives to describe how upset I feel
because, not only are my animals a"t risk, but also those of my neighbouring friends. It has been an absolute shell-shck," said the owner of Shamus, the 15-month-old, home-bred, pedigree Limousin bull whose untypical mouth lesions provided the FMD "care. "I was dreading telling my neighbours, but they have been very, very supportive. It's an awf"ul task to have to tell s"mebody that you might be the bearer of something so terrible." (See yesterday's Western Morning"News)
"Soething so terrible"? " A non fatal animal disease, readily treated and eradicated (yes, eradicated) by vaccination, still to have this effect? As if it were the Black Death? After millions of pounds of wasted money, inquiry after inquiry, the loss of rural livelihoods, ruined tourism, millions of unnecessary carcasses and - above all - the despair and ongoing trauma of people, many of them still terrified of blank-faced officialdom - and nothing learned? To the continuing amazement of more civilised countries, Britain doggedly carries on maintaining that its policies were justified. Unbearable, unjustifiable, unbelievable. Yet the answer has been offered by experts who understand. Is this positive and non-judgemental proposal going to be ignored too?
Sept 26 ~ "It didn't seem likely to be positive so I must admit we didn't pull out all the stops last night...I certainly would have done a lot more if I thought the risk was greater." Jan Kelly DVM for Cornwall
"If I thought the risk was greater?" Monday night's well publicised FMD scare was never even taken seriously by the DEFRA officials - this comes as no surprise to warmwell - but the result has been outrage from the splendid Western Morning News "The telephone conferencing with Elliott Morley was to decide what the process should be in terms of communications, because that was one thing we were heavily criticised for, (last year) for not allowing people to know as soon as possible."
It seems that the egregious Mrs Kelly thinks that memories are so short that local people need to be reminded of the reasons for which her department came in for "heavy criticism" last year. She is mistaken. (example: "We have been treated with nothing but contempt by th" Cornwall DVM "rs Jan Kelly; "e have received numerous threats and insults over a period of nearly one year...") That she should still be in the same position from which she made so many callous decis"ons last year is part of the national scandal of FMD. The Inquiry chairmen sententiously remarked that individuals were not to be blamed and the emphasis was to be on the future - and this seemed to be accepted far and wide. Why? If it is accepted that dreadful errors were made, why should they be allowed to be made again by exactly the same people holding exactly the same positions (or even promoted as was Alick Simmons)? This incident in Cornwall shows that the same people are there making the same high-handed judgements about people's lives. Ms Kelly has learned nothing. DEFRA has learned nothing. There is no better contingency plan now. Vaccination and concern for animal welfare are never mentioned.
Sept 26 ~ When is a scare not a scare?
Mrs Kelly said, "The fact that the bull had suspect lesions on its tongue and not elsewhere on its body,"meant that it was likely not to be infected with foot and mouth....."
So why the immediate national coverage? We are sickened by the affair. How grateful we are for the independence of the Western Morning News who calls the bluff. "...Livestock farmer John Glencross is furious that Defra officials only warned him about the scare 12 hours after it was found, even though he lives just a mile-and-a-half away. "Talk about Lessons Learned. It's about time these officials learned some lessons themselves," said Mr Glencross
Sept 25 ~ powerful and wealthy outside interests... supply 'experts' to sit on advisory panels, narrowly directed 'research' and ...offer more tangible inducements and rewards
an extract from a most interesting letter from Lawrence. He says that he "listened with fury to the BBC R4 Today Programme's trivialising report on the March. The BBC really does seem to be part of the New Labour spin machine."
It would have been unthinkable for us to have agreed with this before we began to realise just what is happening in England, to our government and to democracy. Now we have no doubt at all of the pressures brought to bear on those who are still looked upon by the trusting majority as "impartial". The comment by the DEFRA employee in the march (see below) whose sadness at the spin and political arm twisting going on in the Ministry did not come as any surprise - nor did the comment received last night that on Sky News with Adam Boulton, at the end of the interview with Alun Michael and Baroness Mallalieu, Baroness M said quite clearly "Come on Alun you know this (hunting ban) is all about Animal Rights and funding" The cut off came immediately afterwards and the listener wondered if she had imagined it. She had not. Lawrence will not be alone in feeling fury at the dirty tricks taking place in areas we used to trust.
Sept 25 ~ Days before the Animal Health Bill continues on its unnecessary and ill-conceived way through the House of Lords, the government cries "Wolf" yet again
As so often in recent months, the news of a foot and mouth scare coincides with some government reason for wanting to keep the fear of an outbreak of disease alive . (see Farmers Weekly interactive). Frankly, my Defra, I don't give a damn - and nor do we believe a word of it.
Sept 25 ~" at least, the Phillips Report kills off over a decade of MAFF propagation of the unsupported claim that the BSE strain originated on many occasions from scrapie strains being transferred to cattle in Meat and Bone Meal."
Yet the ignorance (or something worse) persists in spite of the internationally acclaimed scrapie expert Dr Alan Dickinson - and continues to have profound and dreadful consequences for animals and farmers. Not to mention any future in Britain for independent and decent scientific research ( We note that Lord Whitty has just said, "Against a background of pressure on Defra's research priorities, it is vital that research provides value for money." - a remark that betrays where Defra's own "values" lie. ) .
Referring to the article in the magazine "Nature", an American newspaper now writes, "Scrapie.... is thought to have triggered the BSE epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, when farmers fed cattle rations containing sheep remains, the magazine says. This is believed to have passed into humans who ate infected meat products, causing so-called "new variant" Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Ann Nolan, manager of the National Scrapie Plan, says the British government launched the project last summer after consultations with scientists and farmers."
Hugh Pennington describes Dickinson as "an intellectually rigorous man who puts science a long way ahead of office politics" He towers head and shoulders above the ubiquitous but influential "grant tart" scientists. An important letter from Dr Dickinson, published here, raises the issues of
- MAFF's insistence on being exclusively in charge during the BSE crisis,
- the waste of millions of pounds of funding for government approved projects while independent research is starved out
- feigned "consultation" over MAFF's National Scrapie Plan,
- and the scientific flaws inherent in such a plan
- MAFF/DEFRA's obsession with control,
- the race for quick-fix answers
- the fundamental ignorance of the science- even among members of SEAC
Sept 25~ " ..avoid the notion of genetic "resistance" to TSEs"
Is anyone anywhere shouting that the National Scrapie Plan and the Animal Health Bill share the same ill-conceived basis? All the failings listed above, so deplored by Dr Dickinson just before the coming of FMD, were also to result in the misery experienced by many rural communities in the following months when massive and brutal slaughter took the place of a considered and modern disease control policy.
"....work with scrapie in mice had taught me to avoid the notion of genetic "resistance" to TSEs: this complication is fundamental to understanding of the whole subject and is widely unrecognised, for example on occasion by leading members of SEAC."
His letter is highly relevant to the desperately ill-advised policies of FMD control last year; the disproportionate influence of a Science Committee overriding veterinary and virological expertise, the covering-up of gross errors committed by MAFF/DEFRA, the ignorance surrounding TSE's - and the emergence of the loathsome and ignorant Animal Health Bill, (to be forced through the Lords by government supporters on October 7th), which compounds them all. Is no one able to call "The Emperor hasn't got any clothes on!"?
Sept 25 ~ "That is exactly what it was about."
"The farmers, and those setting agricultural policy, need to understand something that the other part of the march on Sunday was all about: the reinvigoration of local habits, local networks, local traditions and local ways of doing things, to all of which they have been indifferent for too long." Telegraph
"Many rural communities are still suffering from the effects of the foot and mouth catastrophe last year. The apparent ineptitude with which the government handled the foot and mouth epidemic seems to many to epitomise its ignorance of rural affairs. Its reluctance to take responsibility for the scale of the disaster or to learn lessons appears cavalier at best, negligent at worst." From the editorial of the East Anglian, a fairly moderate newspaper, (and from an area where they didn't get FMD)
Re: Lack of understanding(Letter in the Telegraph)
Date: 24 September 2002
Sir - Mr Michael has claimed not to know exactly what Sunday's march was about. That is exactly what it was about.
From Dick Woodhead, Sleaford, Lincs
Sept 25 ~ Deafening Silence from National Beef Association about vaccination or concern for animals' welfare in " the next FMD epidemic "
Read what actually is in the NBA Press Release
Sept 23 ~ Warmwell will next be updated on Wednesday September 25
Channel 4 last night: Alun Michael said "I don't know why they are marching, and it doesn't change a thing"
He also apparently called the protest "incoherent".
Defending the government's record or rural policy, he said : "I want to nail the lie that this is a government that does not understand rural areas".
Finding it hard to bear much more of this, warmwell is taking a short rest.
Sept 23 ~
"As hard as a BBC presenter might try, you could not generalise about these people. No cosy British social snobbery or inverted snobbery helps you out, for the crowds were so socially and geograpically diverse. So, too, were the issues that brought them together. For every marcher talking about hunting, there was another telling you about the local bus service, the closing Post Office, the price of lamb, and the greed of the supermarkets. One of the last banners read: "Mr Blair, see what a minority looks like." This was a pretty good joke when 200,000 were expected, but became better still when more than double that figure turned up. The only question now is whether Mr Blair still treats those hundreds of thousands of people as an irrelevant minority, or accepts that this time, the countryside really has spoken." ( 407,791 voices cry freedom)
"In all this, I think the politicians of the Left make a dangerous mistake. The history of great demonstrations in Britain is that they usually lost the first round, often the second, but won their point in the end. The Chartist demonstration was a notorious failure, but they won universal suffrage within a few decades. The May Day demonstrations of the 1890s got nowhere, but in the next century, the Asquith and Attlee administrations carried most of the reforms they demanded. The Suffragettes were ridiculed and locked up; women soon won the vote. The demonstrations which have so far failed completely include those to ban the bomb, but they never had majority support. "Yesterday, our nation spoke from the heart William Rees-Mogg
"Most of the 400,000 marching yesterday were unpolitical people, but it is when unpolitical people feel affronted by politics that the politicians have to start worrying. If I were Mr Blair, trying to lead my nation into a war abroad, I would not be wanting another one at home." Charles Moore "Were you listening,Tony Blair?"
Sept 23 ~ What was it like on the big march?
Big; 400,000 is a big crowd. Men and women and children - none of them stereotypical toffs or bumpkins - carrying placards and banners, all cheerful, all patient in the inevitable delays and hold-ups. It would be idle to deny that the majority of them were protesting their right to hunt, but for many it goes deeper than that. They were deploring the state of affairs in which interference from a government that makes no secret of its contempt for the country has imposed more and more strangulation on its life, livelihood and freedom. "Too much government, too many rules" proclaimed a banner near me.
"We don't like what you do but we will defend to the death your right to do it" said a carefully written placard held outside the barrier. And that summed up what many of us non-hunters felt who had come to protest the continuing cover-up over foot and mouth - an on-going trauma for many. Seeing our banner, a Defra man came up, shook my hand and deplored the political pressure rife in the department. He was near retirement and remembered the time, not so many years ago, when Maff vets were responsible, kindly and well-liked. "They are hard men now - unpleasant," he said. A lady from Staines near me said, "Well I didn't want to come really but things are going too far. All those farms where people have looked after the land for generations..just being ignored and treated like this. It isn't right."
The march will be derided in the sections of the press who cannot help themselves. But such a vast show of solidarity was surely an important statement from the thousands and thousands of country people who had got up far earlier than their usual crack of dawn and made their way to London to be part of it.
Sept 23 ~ The NFU betrays Britain's farmers
wrote Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph "Like countless others taking part in today's countryside march in London, I shall not be there because of the Government's sentimentally self-righteous bid to ban hunting. My chief concern is to protest at the scandal I have been reporting here for years: the bureaucratic sledgehammer successive governments have used to crush so many other aspects of our rural life, from the destruction of abattoirs to the bungling of last year's foot and mouth disaster.
If one question above all demands an answer it is why, of all the 15 countries that have handed over control of farming policy to Brussels, Britain should be the only one where farming is in a state of near-mortal crisis. Why, when for quality and productivity British farmers should easily be able to compete with their often much less efficient Irish or French counterparts, are they going out of business at the rate of 25,000 each year?
In fact, the answer is simple. While other governments exploit the EU system to give their farmers as much help as possible, ours, first under the Tories, even more so under Labour, has done the opposite.
Having asked our food producers to compete in a single market, it loads them with a unique burden of lunatic red tape (see adjoining story on NVZs), then denies them access to much of the funding and tax-breaks that allow their EU competitors to undercut them. ........ However, in its reluctance to point all this out, no one, strangely, has failed our farmers worse than the National Farmers Union, to which only a third of farmers belong anyway. When the Countryside Alliance has wanted to campaign on farming issues, Ben Gill's NFU has warned them off its patch.
Yet today Mr Gill will be joining the Alliance's demonstration, to capitalise on the sympathy it has generated. When marchers encounter him today, recalling the lamentable way in which the NFU has betrayed our farmers, they should treat him with the disdain he deserves."
Sept 22/23 ~ What a colourful spectacle it all promises to be. Tally-ho! Police are expecting no trouble, although many of the country folk will be heavily armed with double-barrelled names.
Roland White in the Sunday Times On the trail of the Prescott and other bashful beasts
"Isn't it cruel to hunt government ministers? Shouldn't they be left to graze happily among the in-trays of Whitehall, their natural habitat? No, say the protesters, who insist that if ministers are left to roam unchecked then, like the fox, they could do severe harm to the countryside.
Unfortunately, there will probably be little in the way of sport today. Perhaps alerted by the scent of 300,000 people converging on London from the countryside, the quarry has long ago fled. You are more likely to spot a panther on Exmoor than a countryside minister anywhere near Whitehall.
What a disappointment. The crowds were particularly hoping to see a beast that has been a constant nuisance to them, the Prescott (Hulleast vulgaris). This is a ferocious creature thought to be a close relative of the Jaguar. Indeed, it has often been spotted concealing itself amid a pack of them.
The Prescott is noted for prowling over a wide territory: it has been recorded as far away as Cyprus (frequently), South Africa and the Far East. It is sometimes aquatic, but hunters should be warned: it can be aggressive when challenged.
It was once cornered by a hunt in Brighton and bellowed furiously: "Every time I see the Countryside Alliance and their contorted faces, I double my determination to vote in the House of Commons to abolish foxhunting for ever."
Another big beast that is normally seen around Whitehall at this time of year is the Beckett (Defra unpopularis) but it appears that this dull-coloured creature, also known as secretary of state for rural affairs, is safely holed up in Derby South where it is a protected species. The Beckett is not thought to be aggressive, and said of the Countryside Alliance recently: "I am very sympathetic to their point of view." It was once thought to be completely harmless, but it is now believed by some that its appearance of doing very little at all might actually be damaging the rural economy. ......(More)
Sept 22 ~ We don't want any trouble. We just want to wander along the route in an orderly fashion to make the point that the countryside is in crisis.
" I live and work with these CA people. We respect each others views and I am going to demonstrate in support of my livelihood which is dairy farming," writes David amicably to the anit-hunt lobby. "I rent 150 acres, milk 120 cows with no paid labour because cheap imports have enabled the supermarkets to dictate the price. The Government (Tory and Labour) have dismantled our marketing structures (under EU direction) and left us vulnerable to the excess powers of the supermarkets.
We don't want any trouble. We just want to wander along the route in an orderly fashion to make the point that the countryside is in crisis. Part of the problem for the demise of rural services probably goes back to the abolition of Rural District Councils in 1974 so now the countryside is (under) funded by town and city councils.
.... We do not live on subsidies but without them we cannot compete against subsidised imports. In order to enlarge the EU, subsidies will have to be phased out in the not too distant future. If farming is to survive at all, this will put pressure on food prices as farmers will inevitably need to get ALL their income from the consumers.
Hunting? I can take it or leave it. It is not a problem to me. I would like to retain the right to choose the method of pest control best suited to my farm. I feel it is very much a matter of the right to choose what you do on your own property. ..... Now I have to dash because I have to milk and feed the cows, calves etc tonight and again in the morning before catching the bus to London at 8.00am. It will be a long day but I am hoping to get some sleep on the way up - ha! ha!
Perhaps we should try to understand each other. There seems to be a lot of hate on your side which I don't seem to see on our side.
Farmer Dave " (complete message)
Sept 21 ~ MEPs referred to the recent visit to the EU by Margaret Beckett, and readers of her speech "can rest assured that the Committee were as astonished (and unfooled) by her words as were we."
Chris Stockdale has written a report from yesterday's meeting at Hereford attended by Albert Maat, MEP, Vice-Chair of the EU Agriculture Committee and Neil Parish MEP. According to Mr Stockdale, Albert Maat implied that the attitude of the British Government was felt to be dishonest and obstructive.
Neil Parish apparently said that it wasn't the farmers who stopped the vaccination, it was the supermarkets and the processors. When Chris Stockdale put it to one of the most senior farmers present (until recently on Governement advisory boards etc.) that it was Ben Gill, he agreed, saying that he had to obstruct vaccination - because it would have been disastrous for the industry to vaccinate.....Other points raised were why the 20-DayStandstill is still in place and why Defra are only now about to put out to tender for a biosecurity audit of the need for it. Also, why walkers can cross from farm to farm whereas a farmer has to jump through hoops; and when can the CleanUp Contractors expect to get paid.
Chris Stockdale concludes, "As usual, a stimulating but frustrating event, too short, but useful not least for the conversations outside the Hall, bringing people together who would not otherwise meet. Did it get us any nearer to the Truth or to preventing it happening again ? Yes, both, a little bit. Further submissions can still be made by post or e-mail but speed was urged as they are heading towards reporting, and especially with regard to the Animal Health Bill's imminent appearance in the House of Lords."
Sept 21 ~ " let's also be thankful that commonsense is finally prevailing even here, in the bastion of the slaughter-only mindset"
Alan Beat, fellow tireless campaigner for vaccination and author of www.smallholders.org, writes today, "Readers of our e-mail messages during the 2001 crisis will remember our lengthy and informative correspondence with Andrew King, Head of Molecular Biology at Pirbright Laboratory. After a gap of some three months, we telephoned him last week to chase up one or two outstanding issues. Among these was the lack of a response from Pirbright to the successful vaccination policy adopted by Uruguay; apparently Tony Garland (an ex-Pirbright man, retired but still active as a consultant) had looked into the situation there and a summary of his report can be read below.
But most interestingly, Andrew .... made it clear that Pirbright now fully recognised the irresistible pressure for vaccination-to-live from both UK and international opinion, and had accepted that this would be the preferred control policy in any future outbreak. This is a remarkable and significant shift in their position, one that would have been unthinkable a few short months ago - just read their submission to the Royal Society Inquiry, for example. It's easy to be cynical and accuse Pirbright of recognising the inevitable to swim with the tide, but let's also be thankful that common sense is finally prevailing even here, in the bastion of the slaughter-only mindset."
Warmwell's view is that getting rid of the disease without cruelty is what matters and Pirbright's self-justifications are of little interest. See also the Uruguayan Embassy's report - available on this website since August 2001: extract:"The disease has extinguished in all 2057 affected holdings. The criterion is that no diseased animals are detected in the last 30 days. At this date there are no foci with viral activity. The last focus of the disease was reported on 21st August 2001."
Sept 21 ~ the biggest peacetime demonstration the nation has ever seen.
Opponents claim the organisers are only interested in one topic - Labour's plans to outlaw hunting. But thousands of countryside dwellers are marching on the capital to make their voices heard about rising house prices, businesses being forced to closed and the continuing crisis which is holding farming in its grip.
Most city dwellers view the countryside as an idyllic retreat inhabited by the privileged few but the reality is much grimmer and harsher. Residents blame the Government for introducing schemes which seem helpful on paper but serve little practical purpose. According to Michael Howe, who has owned and run the local garage for nearly 30 years, there are 23 buses which run through the village daily, yet there is rarely a passenger on board .
Others blame the Government's botched handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis last year, which left many local businesses and farmers crippled. In Moorlinch, farmers can no longer graze animals on the moor and only one of the village's eight dairies is still in operation.
On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people from villages just like Moorlinch will unite as a single voice in the hope that their case will be heard, and maybe this time around someone might be listening......Western Daily Press
Sept 21 ~ They are the sort of people who, in worse times, have been quite ready to die for it and its liberty. Join them.
Telegraph today Most Labour MPs still seem to inhabit a fantasy countryside in which rich and brutal farmers deprive "the people" of their land and ride down innocent ramblers with their horses. This is at a time when the salary and perks of each MP amount to £100,000 a year and the average farming income is £7,000. If Labour wants the One Nation party that Mr Blair seems genuinely to seek, it must stretch out to include the 80 per cent of the land mass of that nation which is not urban.
For more than a year now, this newspaper has been running a "Free Country" campaign. Again and again, we have noticed that the test of freedom is never in the general, always in the particular. Almost everyone says, "I believe in free speech", yet far too many try to restrict it on specific issues. ... Are we really a tolerant society, or is "tolerance" something that we extend only to our own preferences and prejudices? This is a test.
Tomorrow's crowds have plenty of reason for bitterness and exasperation, but we hope and expect that the march will be good-humoured. The people walking in their hundreds of thousands love their country in both senses of that word - the nation and the land. They are the sort of people who, in worse times, have been quite ready to die for it and its liberty. Join them.
Sept 21 ~ "There will be all those people, coming from all over the country, to a place they would normally deeply prefer to avoid, on a Sunday, when there is always a hell of a lot to be done.
It is not a day off for farmers and stockmen, any more than Christmas Day. " ( Simon Barnes in the Times)
"So to get a correct indicator of the upset-and-crossness, let us say that every marcher has travelled 100 miles. My neighbours will all be travelling more than that.
So this gives us a people-miles indicator of 30 million. That's an awful lot of rebelliousness. .....
...Hunting has centre stage and this is a very helpful distraction to those who wish to stir up feeling against country people. But it is not the matter of hunting that has struck deep. It is the fact that town people are telling country people what is good and bad, what is moral and immoral, about the way they live their lives. It is as if my own village council had the right to make laws that were binding on the people of Islington. ....
...It is that sense of disenfranchisement, the feeling that our votes don't amount to anything any more, the fact that the way we live must meet the approval of people who choose to live in completely different ways. It is the sense that country people don't count.
Democracy is about self-government, self-determination. Totalitarianism is about having unsympathetic laws forced on large numbers of people by the few people in power. ...."
Sept 21 ~" This Government has done more to address the problems of rural areas than any Government for a very long time" Margaret Beckett
Telegraph today Mrs Beckett's observations were described by Mr Lidington as "unbelievable complacency". He said: "Look at what's going on: foot and mouth has been catastrophically mishandled, the dairy industry is in crisis and the agriculture industry overall is in recession."...... "David Lidington, the Conservative environment spokesman, said: "I find Mrs Beckett's remarks about not knowing yet whether she will support her own Bill breathtaking.
"I fear this shows ministers have been engaging in an elaborate charade. Some want a complete ban on hunting whereas others, such as Tony Blair, want a sop to their backbenchers. "The likelihood is that the Michael proposals will be overturned by the majority of Labour MPs and hardened into a complete ban or to an incredibly restrictive licensing regime which will ensure that hunting continues only in Labour constituencies in the Lake District."
Mrs Beckett said that there had been "mixed messages" about the purpose of Sunday's march organised by the Countryside Alliance. "They will say afterwards that it is a march about hunting. In advance they have been saying that it is about the countryside." She added: "I share the view that there are lots more important issues in the countryside [than hunting]. What happens to rural schools and shops is a wider issue. This Government has done more to address the problems of rural areas than any Government for a very long time."
Sept 20 ~ Forward Marchers - even if the media battle was lost long ago
One supporter writes today, "I hope the weekend march goes well and the right messages are taken given to both the politicians and importantly the public about FMD and farming in general. Without a public appreciation of the severity of the problem I fear little will change. What an excellent paper on the CAP by the family farmers association."I've just rea it to"day. As you say very readable and sensible. My worry is I just don't see who is going to provide the global lead on this, that is so desparately needed, to sort it out. There are so many powerful vested interests...."
Yes. This past week has shown us that the powerful vested interests whose voices drown ours out, creating tensions and rivalries where none existed before and stooping to the basest tricks of the propagandist, are playing by ery diffe"rent rules from our own. A tidal wave of spin, phoney science, arrogance and ignorance sweeps all sanity and common sense before it. Greedy investors can dictate the fate of millions by the classic means of inciting fear and hatred where none is justified. Ministers can airbrush out the tragic errors of the past. New scares can be fabricated to keep the sheeple penned in, obedient and grateful for being herded - powerless, they assume, to do anything and so no longer thinking for themselves at all. England has foolishly and lazily wandered into a wilderness of central control.
Those who are going to march cheerfully under the balloons of FMD (and possibly also under the protection of Saint Jude) are reminded that full information on the March Page is updated as new information arrives.
Sept 20 ~ Et tu, Simon Jenkins? Then warmwell must fold its tents and quietly retir"
Whi"e Mr Jenkins' comments about hunting and the need to protect the landscape from greed seem wholly sensible, we are surprised to read: "Last year the farming community dealt a devastating blow to its public support by the self-inflicted wound of foot-and-mouth slaughter. At the bidding of the livestoc" lobby and the National Farmers' Union, the countryside was savaged by recession. British agriculture, but nobody else, was compensated. It received a donation from the taxpayer of £6 billion, over and above the normal farm subsidies, probably the largest payout to any one industry in history. Most of this public money simply vanished into farming communities, stuffed into bank accounts, unaccounted for and still largely unaudited. The National Audit Office is terrified of politically powerful lobbies. ...."
It seems that even the best journalists see no point in making a clear distinction between what we would describe as the big agro-farmers (sic) so loudly represented by the N"U - many of whom did indeed get rich, - and the traditional farmers, so many of whom are facing ruin and whose voices of reason have been ignored. See today's Times
S"pt 20 ~ Polly Toynbee puts Sunday's march under the gyroscop"
The Guardian today out-elliotts even the Times in its sneering spin, under the headline "Tories on the m"rch". In the best tradition of propaganda, the threat perceive" of a quarter of a million people marching for civil liberty is undermined by using against them the "ery unpleasan"ness of which they are wrongly accused. "Don't believe the stories of rural collapse..."warbles Ms Toynbee, and tells the Guardian readers that this march is about politics "not preservation" . Here is the first se"tence:
"Class war breaks out on Sunday when"toffs in pink with hunting horns ride into town in their hundreds of thousands and the g"ntlemen's clubs "f Pall Mall throw open their doors -"just as they once barricaded them against the Jarrow marchers."Class war? If resentment and envy is being fabricated in the minds of otherwise neutral onlookers it is because of such mischievous writing. We turn away saddened "y such stuff.
Sept 20 ~ Marching to uncover the cover-up....
The Economist yesterday - which fails to understand the nature of the farmers" frustration with Europe and wishes to convince its readers that "the geen wellie brigade" is o"verstating much about rural grief - does at least include some interesting points in this article: ".....it was a rotten idea. Hunting is not a particularly attractive sport, especially from the fox's point of view. But the human race has plenty of unattractive habits--adultery and lying, for starters--where criminalisation would constitute an excessive intrusion on individual liberty. If the primary concern of those who want to ban hunting is animal welfare, there are many prior targets at which they should direct their ire. Fox-hunting, which kills around 43,000 foxes a year (compared with 100,000 killed on the roads and 100,000 shot by farmers) causes far less suffering to animals than factory farming. Ban chicken nuggets before hunting...."
And we - who loathe the idea of anyone enjoying the killing of any animal at all - agree that this is a point well worth making. The hunt for the truth about FMD is more worthy of our energy and determination, See March page
Sept 20 ~ "... the rally will be the biggest protest of its type since the outcry over the Tolpuddle Martyrs in the 1830s.
"The Metropolitan Police said the demonstration would be the biggest in memory. Some 30 trains and nearly 2,500 coaches will ferry thousands of protesters into London for the rally, which is expected to last from 10am to 4pm. The police are expecting long delays, with sections of the capital brought to a standstill. About 1,600 police officers and a similar number of stewards will be on duty, and streets along the route of the march will be closed off.....Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter said a relatively small number of officers would be on duty because the police did not expect trouble......We expect it to be a peaceful day, but we have contingencies for anything that might happen." Five large screens along the marchers' route will beam live pictures and a running total of the numbers taking part. Independent report:
Sept 20 ~ The statement (from the Anderson Report) that 'slaughtering of stock on contiguous premises only occurred if the slaughter on suspicion case tested positive' is not true.
writes Emma Tennant in the Spectator's internet version of her article "A barbaric policy" . " I know this from my own experience. One of our farms was culled in early April as a result of what was then called 'clinical diagnosis', which sounds convincing but in fact just means the vet's best guess. Cases like this were later described as 'slaughter on suspicion', most likely to make the figures look better in the run-up to the election. Our vet wanted a second opinion, but this was refused by Maff HQ at Page Street in London, where decisions were being taken. Without waiting for the diagnosis to be confirmed by tests, Maff began to slaughter our neighbours' healthy animals. The tests came back negative: the whole thing was a terrible mistake. ...."
But our farm was now classified as 'Infected Premises', and there was no way of removing that label: once an IP, always an IP." (See below) ".... the whole place was subject to an incredibly expensive, and absolutely pointless, cleansing and disinfecting programme. Then an official rang me to say that we would not be allowed to restock for four months. A whole summer's grass would be wasted..... So who was responsible for the debacle? Dr Anderson's report poses more questions than it answers.
Sept 20 ~ Most important of all, who was responsible for the extraordinary experiment of killing healthy animals on farms which were either contiguous to, or within 3km of, every IP?
( Emma Tennant again) "This unscientific, unworkable policy was adopted by the government in preference to the use of vaccination. It made British politicians and scientists the laughing-stock of the world.
None of these reports provides a satisfactory explanation. Dr Anderson makes an extraordinary statement in his chapter on pre-emptive slaughter. He says that in Scotland informally at first, and, as far as we have been able to discover, without any scientific evidence, plans were rapidly worked out for a 3km pre-emptive sheep cull. The idea apparently came from the Scottish Executive and the NFU Scotland, which worked together very closely. Why did Anderson not have access to the records of the discussions which led to this bizarre policy? The boffins who produced the admirably clear report of the Royal Society of Edinburgh say that the pre-emptive 3km cull of sheep was undertaken on the advice of the state veterinary service. Who is right?... "
Sept 20 ~ "the Green Belt is a Labour achievement and we want to build on it....."
The Newcastle Journal last night on the reasons for such disquiet in rural areas. Extract:"The future of the Green Belt, the closure of rural post offices, the state of local transport and, of course, foot-and-mouth are all components in an increasingly potent blend. It is certainly the case that the countryside is under physical threat as never before from an administration faced with the need for millions of new homes. When John Prescott famously remarked that "the Green Belt is a Labour achievement and we want to build on it," it turned out to be all too literally true...."
Sept 20 ~it refused to allow a public inquiry so that the ministers and officials responsible for these blunders could be held publicly accountable..
- Newcastle Journal last night
"...As has been made clear in a series of reports, the Government's handling of the epidemic was far from the "roaring success" they claimed it was. It failed to impose a ban on animal movements soon enough. It unnecessarily closed down footpaths to tourists. It further devastated tourism by the use of pyres. Worst of all, it refused to allow a public inquiry so that the ministers and officials responsible for these blunders could be held publicly accountable...."It's unfortunate that the Journal did not add that the policy killed unnecessarily and in the most distressing circumstances literally millions of animals who were perfectly healthy - and hundreds of distressed owners who knew this all too well were bullied into letting them be killed. One such case was that of the Bensons and their alpacas. This happened because a handful of influential "scientists" and mathematical modellers from Imperial College were unable to understand the nature of modern farming, the strain of the FMD virus, recent advances in vaccination against it, and - most culpable of all - they were unable to bring themselves to admit ignorance. Using their new-found authority as King's 'Science Group' to afford them access, they had rushed out a report to Blair rubbishing vaccination. Even if all 60 million farm animals in the UK were vaccinated, they claimed, the virus would simply be masked, ready to strike again at farms within weeks or months. So - as a result of ignorance and arrogance at the highest level - the holocaust was set in motion. And as a result of the cover-up, such inaccurate and woolly thinking continues to fuel draconian legislation that should never ever have been contemplated for a moment - the Animal Health Bill
Sept 19 ~ Shadow cabinet members marching
More than half of the shadow cabinet and more than 100 Conservative MPs have registered to join the march. Others, who have unbreakable engagements, have expressed their support.
Mr Duncan Smith and his wife, Betsy, will join the Liberty section of the march and their four children will be in the Livelihood contingent. ...... joining the Tory leader will include Michael Howard, Oliver Letwin, David Davis, Theresa May, Michael Ancram, John Whittingdale, David Lidington, Liam Fox, Damian Green, Tim Collins, Nigel Evans, Eric Pickles, Howard Flight and John Hayes. So far, 23 other frontbenchers, including Gerald Howarth, Eleanor Laing, Alan Duncan, Dominic Grieve, Robert Key and Philip Hammond, have said they will march.
William Hague, the former leader, will also take part. see Telegraph
Sept 19 ~ "British public life has been debased by the culture of spin"
"That a respected body such as the Oxford and Cambridge and RSA exam board should stand accused of putting its own presentational concerns above its duty of fairness to those it was charged with examining is a deeply depressing sign of just how far British public life has been debased by the culture of spin. .. ...This Government has a dread of inquiries: witness its determination to prevent proper examination of the handling of last year's foot and mouth epidemic...... " The marking scandal. See today's Telegraph Opinion
Sept 19 ~ God, in a terrible oversight, forgot to make the cow a six-day-a-week model.
Martin Drake from South Yorkshire, writes to the Telegraph ".......The milk price in September is a paltry 17p per litre, down from 21p last year, a drop of 19 per cent. How many people would turn out to work if their employers told them to take these wage cuts? On average, dairy farms produce 400,000 litres of milk. Most are run by a couple, regularly working up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, including all bank holidays and Sabbaths, since God, in a terrible oversight, forgot to make the cow a six-day-a-week model.
The British dairy farmer is the most tightly regulated in the world, and also suffers high transport costs. Many people believe that if imports are cheaper, British farmers should pay the consequence. I strongly disagree: the area of Doncaster where I live is very rural, with a myriad small hamlets, each with more than 1,000 years of tales to tell. They are systematically being destroyed. British agriculture also provides jobs to many in manufacturing. The continued slide in farm gate prices will eventually take its toll on urban jobs. The entire supply chain is on the brink of collapse.
Would this happen in France or Ireland? The Government here is indifferent."
Sept 19 ~ Thousands of dairy farmers will today try to blockade every dairy plant in Britain before going to London on Sunday to protest against the ruthlessness of supermarkets
Robert Ulig's Telegraph article: "... Somehow they will find time away from their daily grind to stand up for a situation they regard as no longer sustainable.For the first time, the pickets outside dairy plants today are being supported not only by the Farmers for Action group, but also by the National Farmers' Union and its Welsh and Scottish counterparts. Richard Haddock, NFU livestock committee deputy chairman, said: "I have never known such unity over an issue. We have the lowest-paid milk producers in Europe and everybody says it is time that stopped.....The Morgan family - all 20 of them - will be marching to protest against the supermarket monopolies, the handling of the foot and mouth crisis and the failure to support and protect British produce against cheap imports. " ...."
Sept 19 ~While the scenes of carnage and brutality - (of which Margaret Beckett "was not aware") - left scars on the country that will not go away
... while the slaughter teams committed such acts of barbarity against terrified animals to make hardened men cry - (scenes for which Margaret Beckett asserts there is no substantiated evidence ) - the loud anti-vaccination voices told the trusting farmers, "It doesn't work ", "It makes things worse ", "we haven't got the manpower " "We haven't got enough vaccine " - lies that have been exploded by the Royal Society Report.
We have published trusted accounts of unmitigated cruelty on the pages of this website. Mrs Beckett's EU speech last week and DEFRA's recent actions to mend their tarnished image (see below) have temporarily deprived us of speech (not to mention the will to live) - but we still direct anyone with the stomach for it to read again some of the statements of stockholders, vets and journalists who witnessed scenes they will never forget
Sept 19 ~no substantiated evidence of welfare violations, Mrs Beckett? Breaking of the welfare codes without justification included:
1) Transport to burial sites of
2) Herding of newly born animals and their dams, and very lame animals
- live animals in late pregnancy
- animals giving birth
- animals having recently given birth, mainly sheep
- lame animals unfit to travel
3) Restrictions allowing conditions to develop which would normally result in prosecutions. For example
"There was only one vet with pig slaughter expertise at Kenton bar. There was no slaughter training in the field for vets, even when overstaffed..... Pithing was not always done immediately post stunning especially where animals were shot in groups in make-shift pens. Therefore in such cases pithing was performed possibly as the animals were regaining consciousness. This is not acceptable and is illegal for good reason... TVIs were informed that they were there only for FMD duty and many welfare problems were ignored. Welfare problems that were reported were not recorded on computer. .." (from the submission of the veterinary surgeon (TVI) Helen O'Hare.
- starving animals unable to move across the road to available food
- animals born and drowning in mud.
"....many expressed the private opinion that Government policy appeared irrational. They questioned the necessity to kill so many healthy animals and newly born lambs, kids, piglets and calves, especially as they saw so little evidence of actual FMD infection in the field. Undoubtedly many of those involved in the slaughtering were emotionally affected by the brutality of mass culling." (from the submission of Professor Sheila Crispin)
Sept 19 ~ On Ann Morgan's farm, the young vet was crying on the phone but DEFRA insisted, "Kill, kill, kill". Her sheep were lambing thick and fast.
All the sheep and lambs were healthy. Any expert on foot and mouth will tell you that if FMD is present the lambs will die.
If these accounts are not substantiated then presumably they must be lies. And if they are not lies, then the lying must, we regret to say, be coming from Mrs Beckett. The EU Committee on Foot and Mouth will have to judge for themselves. But we recall that at Knowstone (unknown to Mrs Beckett we read) and elsewhere, such as the Royal Welsh Showground meeting, Members of the Committee were appalled at what they heard. We remember - (as Mrs Beckett does not) that Mrs Redondo, embracing Ann Morgan, told her, "You are very brave". Members of the Inquiry, including English MEPs were visibly in tears as Ann spoke. But Margaret Beckett cannot recall anything about bungled culls or welfare violations - even though her own department apologised for the horror at Knowstone Apparently Mrs Beckett wasn't aware of this either.
Sept 19 ~ Exports resume at the same time as if we had vaccinated anyway
Above all, those who opposed vaccination last year loudly asserted that "It will delay a return to exports" - an appeal to profits is a more powerful argument than an appeal to common sense and compassion.
the Telegraph quietly reported on Wednesday, "First Beef exports ready to go ....The first beef to be exported from Britain since the foot and mouth crisis has been stamped ready for shipping and will leave Dover for Holland next week....."
It is nearly 12 months since the last 'confirmed' case - How strange that that is exactly the timescale that would have needed to elapse since the last vaccination before exports could be resumed - but we were repeatedly told that the relentless slaughter and cull had to be followed "to get back to exports in the shortest possible time".
If vaccination had been used in April 2001 - exports could have resumed in April 2002, 10 million animals could have been saved and the warmwell website could have been used - as intended - to advertise a warm welcome for foreign students to learn English in the author's house in France.
Sept 19 ~ Sunday's March. Arriving after 10.00 a.m.? The FMD meeting point will be maintained in Hyde Park for those arriving after 10am
probably throughout the day. Some will stay in Hyde Park (with balloons prominently displayed ) to maintain the meeting point on South Carriage Drive. A second group could set off en masse at say 1pm or when sufficient numbers get together. Please return to this page for news of a possible rally point in the vicinity of the end of the march - exact location to be announced.
Sept 18/19 ~ £135,000 spent by DEFRA on a new "logo"
The Western Morning News tells us that Defra confirmed yesterday that it had " hired image consultants to design a new logo for the department and advise Ministers and officials on the best way to promote its "values and vision".....
The logo incorporates a new "namestyle" in which the word Defra is spelt out in lower case letters, together with a logo of vaguely Celtic design, which is meant to signify the idea of working together. Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary David Lidington said the exercise displayed a "lunatic sense of priorities". "They tell us they cannot afford inspections on illegal meat imports and then they find the money for this kind of frippery," he said. Angela Browning, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said many farmers would be horrified by the time and money spent on the exercise at a time when farming was in crisis. (See report in the Western Morning News)
Sept 18/19 ~ "We are with you marching (in spirit) for a future for farmers, animals and the land
and for all true lovers of the countryside based on: love rather than greed, sustainability rather than profitability, and local produce." writes Hilary Peters, on behalf of herself and the extraordinarily courageous Dot Boag. She adds, "Dot would also like to thank everyone who sent and is sending her cards. She is building up a comprehensive collection of animal cards, which runs to at least 4 volumes."
Sept 18 ~ Margaret Beckett on September 12 "all slaughtering was supervised by veterinary inspectors and there is no substantiated evidence of welfare violations...."
or of inadequately trained staff involved in slaughtering. We worked closely with the animal welfare groups throughout the crisis and fully investigated any allegations of mistreatment. ...." Please look carefully at the speech given by Mrs Beckett last week. It will have to speak for itself for a while. Words fail us.
Sept 18 ~ The whitewash that makes marchers see red
One of the most underpublicised and most astonishing pieces of DEFRA/government attempts to cover up the truth about the FMD crisis is their refusal to shift from the position that there were 2026 confirmed IPs.
The impression this gives that there were 2026 confirmed outbreaks of foot and mouth is factually wrong. The "confirmation" was solely on the basis of the (usually hurried and inexperienced) clinical diagnosis; the subsequent negative laboratory test result has not been reflected in the figures.
For 2026 IPs, 171 were antibody only (i.e. farms where a few animals had succumbed and subsequently recovered and were no longer infectious - but where entire herds were killed any way)
On only 1153 premises was live virus found
401 - no evidence of virus or antibody found 301 - no samples tested.....
Why these figures have not been changed is perfectly evident, and the cover-up - like the piles of literally millions of unnecessarily killed livestock, breeding stock and pets - has a stench that is not fading from the public consciousness.
Sept 18 ~ Telegraph echoes the Soil Association warning "Seeds of Doubt"
In this morning's Telegraph, Robert Ulig echoes the Soil Association's warnings from yesterday. An EU report leaked earlier this year found that the costs of keeping GM and non-GM crops separate would often be too high to make commercial planting of GM crops economically feasible. On Monday, the National Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy, an American group funded by the biotechnology industry and the American government, painted a different picture of GM crops in America, saying that in 2001, GM crops of soya-bean, maize, cotton, papaya, squash, and oilseed rape produced an extra 1.8 million tons of food and fibre on the same acreage....."
Sept 18 ~ More agent provocateur drivel from Valerie
The blatancy of the envy - or assumed class hatred - in the latest nonsense from the Times about the "Toffs Route" and the fact that some London clubs will expect to see their patrons on Sunday continues to surprise us. This unpleasant little piece concludes with the contemptuous paragraph: "Leaner wallets, however, need not fear going hungry during the march. McDonald's has dispatched senior managers and full staff to all of its West End outlets." One source of poison the rural communities do not need in addition to this poisonous twaddle is fast food - whatever the girth of their "wallets". Poor old Times. How the Times have changed.
Sept 18 ~ the survival of rural Britain
From icWales " At least 15,000 people from Wales are expected to take part in the Countryside Alliance organised Liberty and Livelihood march on Sunday.
Mark Hinge, the alliance's political director for Wales, said, "This show of strength from Wales sends out a clear and an advance message that the countryside must be listened to and treated with tolerance and respect. ...I have been amazed at the huge take-up on coaches, this together with requests on how the young, old, disabled and less abled can make their own contribution means that clearly we will be looking at a huge turnout from Wales." Organisers say they are delighted with the response - particularly over the past week - from the rural community.
"It demonstrates that more and more people, both from town and country, are ready to march to express their strong desire to ensure the survival of rural Britain. This march will be the largest peacetime demonstration in British history and everyone is eager to play a part on a historic day," said march director James Stanford. ...... for many of the marchers it is the wider issues affecting rural life which are inspiring them to travel to London.
Sept 18 ~ Lidington says," Beckett must listen to marchers"
David Lidington MP, Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA, commenting on Margaret Beckett's announcement that she will not be attending the Countryside March on Sunday, said:
"I shall be there to demonstrate my support for the large number of my own constituents who will be attending the march. Clearly, I will be marching alongside people with differing political views.
"I hope that there will a good turn out of MPs from all parties. There will certainly be a high number of Conservative MPs there, including many from the Shadow Cabinet. If Margaret Beckett won't attend, I hope that she will at least listen to the message that the marchers are sending her about the crisis in our countryside."
Sept 18 ~ Marching under the FMD banner
Those marching on Sunday who feel that the Government's handling of Foot & Mouth was a disaster, or who have grave misgivings about the proposed Animal Health Bill. are invited to get to South Carriage Drive well in time for the 10.00 am set -off. Janet Bayley of NFMG and Jon Dobson of FMD Forum will be there from 9:30 a.m. - with balloons. 100 12" balloons saying 'Im here because of FMD'
Meet at Hyde Park where you will be able to meet others and collect balloons. See link in left menu for map.
Sept 17 ~ "he simply finds it more comfortable to conduct all such international business on the basis that the legislature hardly matters at all"
As we slide towards World War Three, our concern at the FMD fiasco moves into a second but still very much inter-connected place. We are relieved to see that The Times still has journalists of the stature of Anthony Howard. He warns us this morning that Tuesday's recall of Parliament is hardly a rousing victory for parliamentary accountability. It was only "the intervention of two former Speakers, the entrepreneurial activities of a former government whip, to say nothing of the increasingly sepulchral warnings of the Commons's longest-serving member, Tam Dalyell" that brought about Parliament's recall at all.
"Behind the scenes there also seems little doubt that the Leader of the House, Robin Cook....worked hard to bring it about. Eventually his weight, combined with that of the leaders of the two main opposition parties, proved too much for the Prime Minister, who, with a slightly sulky air, gave way. "
The article reminds us that MPs still lack any formal resolutions on which to vote. "The lesson needs to be driven home that something is wrong in a parliamentary democracy when the gravest decisions about peace and war are made by the executive without reference to the legislature. ..." "..There is no mystery about how this constitutional curiosity has come about. Declarations of war are taken under the Royal Prerogative...... they are not subject to parliamentary scrutiny." (Even in the United States, the President cannot take the decision to declare war upon himself alone.) ".... a convenient royal instrument that has descended down the centuries from the hands of an absolute monarch into the lap of an almost equally absolute Prime Minister. It is this "prerogative" power that MPs next Tuesday ought to be questioning. Its mere existence has already allowed the Prime Minister to disregard any voices of dissent, whether in his own party or emanating from the public at large."
Sept 17 ~ 3,000 beacons across Britain
Telegraph " An undertaker set fire to coffin parts last night at the lighting of one of 3,000 beacons across Britain six days before the Liberty and Livelihood march in London.
More than 300,000 people are expected at the rally on Sunday in protest at the Government's handling of countryside issues. Last night's fires in towns and villages from Land's End to Scotland marked the start of a week of activity.
A chain of 50 rockets, starting in Scotland - from where a relay race to London begins today - spread the length of the country.
Many of the fires were attended by hundreds of people showing solidarity ......"
See also Robert Ulig in the Telegraph today: ".....Over the last five to 10 years, we have lost six local post offices, several schools, our village shop and several petrol stations," she said. "It has got to a state where something has got to be done. The Government does not understand rural life and they don't show much sign of caring...."
Sept 17 ~ Valerie Elliott spins about on the Toffs' Route
If The Times has been given instructions to slant all reporting of Sunday's march carefully it has responded enthusiastically. The Times has already been at some pains to suggest that there are deep divisions, that marchers are likely to be outnumbered by wondering tourists and that revolting huntsmen are planning acts of mayhem. This morning Ms Valerie Elliott gives column inches to "news" that some children of the marchers will be accompanying their parents. However, she chooses to tell us only of those at the most expensive public schools: "THOUSANDS of public school boarders, including pupils from Eton and Harrow, are to enjoy a day off this weekend to join the countryside march, "she crows, adding that "From the heirs to great estates to oiks from the Remove, these junior pillars of the rural establishment are expected to join the march in Hyde Park on what has been dubbed the "toff's route".
Dubbed by whom, Ms Elliott? We can make a shrewd guess at the provenance of this nasty little slur.
"A second, less fashionable route starts near Blackfriars Bridge in southeast London,"she adds, in case the point had been missed.
"The boarders are determined to be out in force with their villages and local hunts ..." ...but what justifies this verb we are not told. We are then given some school slang : "beaks (the Harrow term for teachers) "..."dons (Radley slang for staff) "... "Girls at Cheltenham Ladies' College, however, will have to give up a "privy", or privilege".... The article finishes sneeringly, "Public school boys and girls hoping to skip compulsory chapel, however, may be in for a disappointment: many schools have moved it to evensong, some as late as 9pm."
We are told that "James Arbuthnott, Tory MP for North East Hampshire, and former captain of school (head boy) at Eton in 1970, said yesterday: "It is all so different than my schooldays......"
Different "than" our idea of responsible broadsheet journalism too.
Sept 17 ~ It gets worse. Now the Times compares the marchers to "scabs"
Beneath the headline "Demo brings back strike memories" Graham Stewart of the Times writes ."THE interest from the public schools in encouraging participation in the countryside march calls to mind a previous occasion when livelihoods were at stake and the country's famous educational institutions rushed to be a part of the action..."
".....Spending a few days as a "scab" worker during the 1926 General Strike was one of the most fondly remembered rites of passage for those just emerging from an expensive education. For the serious-minded among them, those nine days in May provided an opportunity to help to save capitalism and democracy from what they saw as a syndicalist challenge. For others it was the one-off chance to play at being bus drivers and special constables, boyhood aspirations that their privileged education had drummed out of them..... "
Using envy to provoke enmity has been the chief tool of propaganda for decades. We never thought to see the Times allow itself to be used to provoke some kind of spurious class enmity.
Sept 17 ~ "Perhaps I am being naive, but I did expect more from the Party that promised open Government."
"I wouldn't respect them less if they got up and admitted where they had got it wrong, I'd respect them more, but they just seem to want to brazen it out, all locked away behind Cabinet doors.
I promised my stock, before they died, that I would not let that happen again, and I owe it to their memory and their few surviving progeny to fulfill that pledge. This isn't mawkish sentimentality, it's stockmanship."
So writes a farmer who lost his animals last year. FMD hunters for the truth will be marching on Sunday. Watch this space if you wish to march with them.
Sept 16/17 ~ More than 2500 beacons and 5000 rockets to be lit after sunset
on Monday (16 September). See FWi report "Campaigners hope to involve every hamlet, parish or town across Britain as the countdown continues to the march on Sunday (22 September).
Beacons will also be lit the USA and Australia. A Rocket Relay will start in Scotland and travel south throughout Britain, as villagers ignite and set off rockets in a chain all the way to London....
Sept 16/17 ~ Cumbria County Council have set up a forum to discuss their FMD Inquiry Report.
The link is http://www.cumbriacc.gov.uk/forum/messages/185/185.html?1032171537 It is to be hoped that many will wish to express what they think of the Cumbria report.
The report itself can be viewed here.
Sept 16/17 ~UK farmers should NOT roll over and give our market to our competitors without a damn good fight.
"the sooner subsidies are removed, the sooner I will be on a (more) level playing field with my playmates in the EU." wrote a dairy farmer. "They are more heavily subsidised than we are (due to more support from their governments)so I feel we have been hardened up to the future more so than they.
Also we are not producing enough in the UK to feed our own people. We are sitting on the best market in the EU with something approaching 60 million people to feed. Most other EU countries produce an excess of what they require locally so it is they that should think of alternative uses for their farms - not us in the UK. I feel very strongly that UK farmers should NOT roll over and give our market to our competitors without a damn good fight. The Government would have us do just that. " (More informed opinion from the farmer)
Sept 16 ~ 20 day rule - to be "studied" in the New Year.
The much loathed and - in the opinion of several senior vets and experts - unnecessarily long 20-day restrictions on movements will not even be considered by Margaret Beckett's Ministry until 2003.
The Western Morning News today reports that Robert Sturdy MEP has just returned from Brussels, where he quizzed Margaret Beckett about when the Government intended to lift the 20-day rule. "Margaret Beckett consistently quoted the Anderson Report throughout her speech in Brussels," he said. "Anderson was quite critical of the rule and said the Government must do a full review of its financial effects and what problems it has caused for the industry.
"To my utter surprise, she said she had done nothing about it. She said it was only two-and-a-half months since the Anderson report came out, and that they were putting the tender out for people to do an impact assessment on the 20-day rule. "They are looking at doing the study in the New Year.
Sept 16 ~ Imports " a very difficult issue, and they would consider it....
In other words, they will do nothing." Robert Sturdy
Mr Sturdy also asked Mrs Beckett about what the Government intended to do about meat imports from countries where foot and mouth disease was rife. "I made it plain that this is not a trade issue, but it seems to me rather ridiculous to import meat from places like Central America where foot and mouth is endemic, when there are plenty of disease-free sources like Australia and New Zealand," he said. "Her answer was that it was a very difficult issue, and that they would consider it. In other words, they will do nothing."
Sept 16 ~ Many marchers have no truck with hunting whatsoever.
Among them is tireless FMD campaigner, Janet Bayley, reported in the Telegraph today as saying that her deep concern is at " the Government's desire to force the Animal Health Bill through the next session of Parliament." and that her "contingent will be the be marching to voice its concern at the upcoming legislation and to make plain its disgust that no one in Government has taken responsibility for foot and mouth, which cost Britain £8 billion, brought misery to tens of thousands of farmers and left deep economic, social and emotional scars across the countryside.
"We are people drawn from all walks of life, united by concern that many of the recommendations of the official inquiries will not be acted upon. Already there are signs that ministers and officials are cherry-picking the recommendations that best support their aims," she said.
Sept 16 ~ "As we walked slowly to the gate, the full gravity of the situation began to dawn on us. These officers were not only armed, they were mentally prepared to fire"
This was at a farm in Cornwall, England, last Tuesday. No crime had been committed. This was the home of Didi Phillips - whose life fell apart when her animals were all needlessly killed last year - and who is still being terrorised. "Spread across the width of the lane were five officers in black anti-stab vests with bulging pockets, one plain clothes man carrying a kit-bag, with more officers vaguely there in the backgound behind a large white van. There was a tense atmosphere and hands were held poised by vest pockets...Nick asked the two constables if any police present were armed, to which they answered no, they were simply wearing standard issue anti-stab vests. Nick climbed out of the van and walked round to the front, where the sergeant was leaning on the bonnet filling in paperwork. Asked the same question, the sergeant confirmed that the six officers we had first seen were "covertly armed", that is, their firearms were held out of view. The constable looked uncomfortable.....
..... I pointed out that whatever inappropriate words may have been used in the heat of the moment and allowing for Didi's state of mind, no firearm had been produced to threaten anyone at any time, and I suggested that this level of response was completely over the top. He replied that this was the lowest level response possible in the circumstances, and that he had been anxious to avoid "containment", which would involve surrounding the premises with armed marksmen and communicating with us via loudhailer.... ." Alan Beat's account of an incident that may make you wonder indeed what has happened to our country - and what that over-used phrase "proportionate response" now means.
Sept 16 ~ The Times today. The Times we live in
" In a further attempt to improve relations Mr Blair has agreed that Ewen Cameron, the Government's rural advocate, should join next Sunday's countryside march to listen to the wider grievances of country dwellers. "
Just this one sentence from Valerie Elliott's article this morning is enough to make you try to pinch yourself awake. A further attempt ..agreed that Cameron may march... The Government's rural advocate (just the one)... To listen....Wider grievances
Interesting choice of language in the whole article - as we have come to expect from Ms Elliott.
Sept 16 ~ Valerie Elliott warns of hunt hotheads
If a group of six armed policemen can surround a peaceful Cornish farmhouse at the suggestion of a vague phone call from SW Water, how many policemen will be mobilised on Sunday as a result of some careful words in the Times? Warmwell's view is that to suggest or imply that Sunday's March will turn violent is mischievous spin. The Times' article begins: "MILITANT hunt supporters are planning to disrupt life in the cities and to inconvenience the public in a desperate attempt to save their sport." Evidence to support violence appears to be the statement by "an unnamed protestor": 'All the talk is of civil unrest. If ministers do not listen to the people on the march or to the thousands of letters that have been written to MPs then people are going to cause their own disruption' And Janet George of the Countryside Action Network, who said: "We would never commit violence or criminal damage . . . But people are very angry."
Sept 16 ~ The very fabric of our society is being unpicked
An article in yesterday's Sunday Times, although oddly ambiguous in its tone and choosing to focus on "divisions", nevertheless indicates the depth of feeling in the days before next Sunday's march : ".... In the Lake District a fleet of 80 coaches will set off from various collection points at about 2am to help carry more than 4,000 Cumbrians to London. Few will have taken part in any anti-government protest before. Robert Fell, a retired policeman, says he is one of thousands of respectable citizens to have been radicalised by "attacks on the countryside".... "We are protesting because our whole way of life is under threat," he said. "In rural Cumbria we have schools closing, churches without vicars and very little rural public transport. The very fabric of our society is being unpicked."
......The Liberty and Livelihood march promises to be one of the largest displays of popular protest since Tony Blair became prime minister. It could be a showdown in Labour's relations with the country voters...."
Sept 16 ~ EU's hand in foot and mouth.
"How easily the more gullible sections of the media have been taken in by reports that the European Commission will take charge of any future foot and mouth epidemics and insist on emergency vaccination..." writes Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph (electronic version unaccountably unavailable)
"This is presented as an indictment of the shambles our own government made in 2001, showing the EU as a white knight galloping in to save us from any repitition of that debacle.
As I have repeatedly tried to explain, the EU took over competence for handling foot and mouth policy 17 years ago, with its directive 85/511. The 2001 disaster was a failure for which the Commission and the UK government were equally to blame. Under EU directive 90/423 and subsequent Commission guidance, we should have been ready to launch a full vaccination programme as soon as it becme clear the epidemic was out of control. The fact that we were not prepared was due both to the incompetence of our own ministry and to the Commission for failing in its legal duty to monitor our preparations.
It is precisely because Brussels was as much at fault as London that the Commission is now pretending to propose a wholly new policy. The most interesting feature of its new directive, making more explicit that the EU will be in charge, is how it covers up the extent to which Brussels was actually in charge last time and failed."
Sept 16 ~ "...What in fact happened was that both "governments" fouled up. "
(part of a message by Dr North) "...What in fact happened was that both "governments" fouled up. The EU originally in issuing flawed guidelines for contingency plans, the UK government in producing flawed plans, the EU for then failing to detect that the plans were flawed, and then for failing to draw the attention of member states to the changing situation and revisions on planning guidelines.
On balance, it is fair to say that the UK government self evidently made a mess of things. But, it is also fair to say that, had the EU commission properly carried out its duty, and required the UK to prepare well-founded contingency plans (as was its statutory duty) things could well have been very different.
That the commission has now recognised that it fouled up, and is now preparing new legislation which does nothing more than codify and clarify that which it already had responsibility for, had the power to do, and should have done anyway, hardly justifies the triumphal heading "Hooray for Europe".
The facts now are that the EU has determined the "paper" response. It still has neither the resources not the intellectual capability to put it into action. It will still be up to the member states to provide the resources. We could and should do this, irrespective of whether we are in or out of the EU. "
Sept 15/16 ~ Ministers' deckchairs rearranged on the deck of the Titanic
The Secretary of State for the Environment has announced a shuffle of portfolios at DEFRA. Mrs Beckett says,"In particular, we are keen that all of us be 'DEFRA' ministers, with, for example, all of us carrying some direct responsibility for environmental, rural and agricultural issues -- sustainable development is the fundamental principle of DEFRA's work, not just a turn of phrase."
And is "direct responsibility" a fundamental principle for DEFRA or just a turn of phrase? With responsibility for FMD now openly admitted to have been transferred to Brussels where is "direct responsibility" then? As Robert Ulig said in the Telegraph on friday,"Handling any epidemic, animal or human, requires not only technical and administrative expertise, but also local knowledge and political sensitivity. Last year, we could at least all shout out at the Government when it made such a mess of things. But there will be no direct accountability if Brussels is in charge. With something as damaging and emotive as foot and mouth, that could prove extremely dangerous"
Sept 15/16 ~ Direct Responsibility? "We didn't know about Knowstone...",
It would appear that DEFRA ministers prefer to duck responsibility. Answering questions at the EU Inquiry, Mrs Beckett seems to have pleaded ignorance when asked if she would like to comment on appalling errors of judgement made over Foot and Mouth.
"When the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was asked twice if she wished to apologise, she declined, claiming to be "not familiar" with the case of the cull at Knowstone, in which marksmen fired at infected bullocks, which sent them fleeing across neighbouring farms." (Western Morning News 14th September)When Mrs Beckett was asked if she would consider visiting Knowstone, she said (choosing her words with grotesque insensitivity): "My diary is under pressure next year. It's under review. As it is certain things may have to be culled from it."
Sept 15/16 ~ "not only had she not seen them but she hadn't even read the newspaper reports."
The woman who called the handling of the FMD crisis "something of a small triumph" ( the Rt Hon Mrs Beckett), said in response to questions from the Western Morning News about the new contingency plan for FMD that "not only had she not seen them but she hadn't even read the newspaper reports." The WMN comments: "Has it really come to the situation where our Government Ministers are viewed as so inept and so ineffective that a regional morning newspaper knows more about what is going on with European policy than the Secretary of State?
Or could it be that Mrs Beckett was so embarrassed by these revelations that she simply did not have an answer?.."
Sept 15/16 ~ Villagers' disgust at Beckett's brush-off
Mark Clough of the Western Morning News writes, "Villagers at the heart of a bungled cull in Devon during last year's foot and mouth crisis were last night stunned on being told Margaret Beckett was not interested in their plight. When the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was asked twice if she wished to apologise, she declined, claiming to be "not familiar" with the case of the cull at Knowstone, in which marksmen fired at infected bullocks, which sent them fleeing across neighbouring farms. When Mrs Beckett was asked if she would consider a visit to the little village on the southern fringe of Exmoor, she said: "My diary is under pressure next year. It's under review. As it is certain things may have to be culled from it."
Guy Thomas Everard, chairman of Endangered Exmoor, said he was "flabbergasted" that Mrs Beckett did not know about the Knowstone cull. "It was reported widely, and it was shown on national television. Was she out of the country during the foot and mouth crisis?" he said. "If something of that magnitude has escaped the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs it raises serious questions about what she is actually doing. "If she genuinely did not know, she should find out and apologise for it, or explain why she is not going to apologise. "There are farmers in Knowstone whose animals would not have been slaughtered if the Government officials had not bungled the slaughter. I would say that what went on then was actually criminally negligent." ......
Last night, Mrs Willmetts said of Mrs Beckett's approach: "If they came out and had been truthful from the start they would have solved all the problems that they have now. I haven't got a lot of time for Defra. "When you are law-abiding and you see that they are not going by the rule book, it's a hard pill to swallow".
Sept 15/16 ~ The Secretary of State was not informed......
icNewcastle.co.uk "...Mrs Beckett refused to comment on the vaccination plan, insisting that she had not been informed of the proposal or its details...."
The Western Morning News asks, "What do you think of Margaret Beckett's answers to the European foot and mouth inquiry. Is she doing a good job as Secretary of State for Defra? Tell us what you think by writing to: Beckett's Job, Western Morning News, 17 Brest Road, Derriford, Plymouth PL6 5AA."
Sept 15 ~ "Trusting people has become a bit of a risk - we live in a society which is trying to be risk-free, but it is necessary to take risks."
Princess Anne has said, "The convenience culture, an aversion to risk and a failure to trust people with lifelong experience has left much of Britain out of touch with farming and the countryside" (See Robert Ulig's report in friday's Telegraph)
"...Speaking at a meeting of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Society in London, the princess said a "dangerous" attitude was emerging, in which "some people believe it is unnecessary to produce food in this country". The princess went on: "We live in a world of convenience - everything designed for everything taking less time. "This makes it difficult to explain why people want to live a different life, spending time looking after livestock, working long hours controlled by the weather.
"If we are to have an integrated society, where people from a wide range of different cultures and backgrounds live together in harmony, one very important component is a strong farming industry. It is what people see when they visit the countryside."
The princess said farming and rural businesses were struggling to rebuild their lives and livelihoods at a time when supermarkets were squeezing any profit from farming and the Government was putting new environmental pressures on farmers. "Even if farm incomes were buoyant, this wouldn't be easy or quick. But farm incomes are anything but buoyant."
The princess added that trust in farmers had been eroded because society no longer valued their experience and knowledge. She said: "Those with experience and understanding of the conditions are no longer trusted. "Trusting people has become a bit of a risk - we live in a society which is trying to be risk-free, but it is necessary to take risks."
Sept 12 ~ He's confident that wouldn't happen in Australia.
According to these reports from ABC.com, a simulation this week of a foot and mouth outbreak in Australia, "operation Minotaur", envisages a "nightmare scenario" All the same, Australian authorities conclude (one week after the pretend outbreak started in south-east Queensland ) that in the event of a real outbreak of foot and mouth disease, the Australian Animal Health Laboratory would be able to cope.
"Last year staff from the lab at Geelong in Victoria travelled to Britain to help with the workload during the real FMD outbreak there.And now that all the expensive inquiries have reported and lessons learned? Have any plans actually been put into operation or even planned yet to ensure that we have processes in place to handle diagnostic samples and to report? Dr Watkins' practical proposal would ensure that we too felt confident of coping - but she also wrote:"Without authority given to specially trained and dedicated virologists I can see no hope yet that should FMD recur in Britain we are ready to do any better.
Laurie Gleeson, AAHL's FMD co-ordinator, says British authorities were disadvantaged from the start, because they were using a reseach lab which couldn't cope with the huge number of samples sent for diagnosis. He's confident that wouldn't happen here.
"At least here in Geelong we're halfway between a pure diagnostic lab and a pure research lab, in that we do have a regular diagnostic function and we have processes in place to handle diagnostic samples and to report. But they didn't really have any of that."
Will we continue to make a hash of animal infectious disease?"
Sept 12 ~ "The unbelievably pathetic Cumbria FMD report......"
Nick Green speaks for many when he writes, "My despair at not being able to expose the brutal truth of FMD grows by the day. The unbelievably pathetic Cumbria FMD report has amplified my feelings at a time when I believed I could return to a more sane way of life and leave the prosecution council to carry on! How wrong I was!
In one of my phone calls to CCC the other day, one of the major employees openly stated that we no longer live in a democracy and that he had known this for years!"
Nick is not the only one to feel great disillusionment with the Inquiries. With the exception of the independent Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry with its ability to probe and bring some much-needed light to bear on the issue of vaccination one cannot escape the conviction that quite disgraceful political pressure was brought to bear on the others. Neither Keith Sumption nor Paul Kitching was called to give evidence to the Lessons Learned Inquiry. Why not - when they had so much to contribute? And yet still the discontent rumbles on in the hearts and minds of those who know the truth. Now it is the farmers in County Durham who are calling for a public inquiry into the handling of the outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in their own county. (see news report)
Sept 12 ~ "Big business brought these viruses into Britain, spread them by their cruel farming practices, culled the evidence and gained excessive compensation."
Fighting talk from Pat... "I'm glad we have seen the last of the inquiries. I never did expect anything from them. This always was a police job. The State Veterinary Service would not have survived a professional investigation.
What has become more and more apparent is not how much control the government had during these animal health crises, but how little. It is becoming increasingly confirmed from a variety of sources that the problems were caused by a corrupt civil service dancing to the tune of big business.
Big business brought these viruses into Britain, spread them by their cruel farming practices, culled the evidence and gained excessive compensation.
They lied, cheated, endangered and manipulated decent people.
The Government are running along behind a MAFF-Defra that was, and probably still is, completely out of control.
It is embarrassing to admit that you have been elected for a second term with a big majority and still can't control a bunch of deviant weirdo vets.
So, OK, we have to do the job for them. We have no reason to be afraid of Defra. They are a national disgrace and have every reason to be afraid of us."
Sept 11 ~ "The Animal Health Bill is not to be discussed"
Our Westminster Correspondent writes, "... when I enquired why they were pushing through contentious (as admitted by the high level official who chaired the meeting) legislation before they have the strategy sorted out I was told that these discussions were not there to argue about specific pieces of legislation. The Animal Health Bill is not to be discussed as the ministers are determined to get that through. At the second meeting, chaired by Lord Whitty, he made it clear that he thought the Bill will have to go through as its provisions were badly needed. He then mentioned some of them, though not entirely accurately. I don't think the stakeholders round the table knew any better...."
Sept 11 ~ "...my comment became lost in the need not to discuss current legislation, particularly the Animal Health Bill..."
In view of the above, it is interesting to recall that, following a recent DEFRA meeting, the Director of the Honest Food campaign, Dr Helen Szamuely, wrote to Paul Dray of DEFRA's Animal Disease Control Division
"...Much of the scientific base given for several pieces of recent primary and secondary legislation is very shaky and has been disproved by a number of highly regarded scientists both in this and other countries. Many of them feel that they are not listened to and their well-founded opinions are passed over. Many of them share the anxiety expressed by producers and retailers as well as legislators and relevant organizations, that the laws and regulations passed on the basis of defective scientific evidence are then entrenched, making life very difficult for animal and livestock owners and, subsequently, for food producers and consumers.....May I remind you of the problems and difficulties, as well as real hardship that were caused (and, actually, still being caused) by the Meat Hygiene Service and the meat inspection regulations?" Read letter
Sept 11 ~ Let them eat hedges
The Western Morning News on Tuesday published a series of important articles about the difficulties of farming and the rapaciousness of supermarkets. In one, Robin Head, who has a small farm near Bampton ( but is now working as a farm labourer on neighbouring farms and as also as a building labourer) says, "We are becoming ever more complacent about our food," he said. "Only farmers now understand the knife-edge on which it is produced, emerging each year from a logistics nightmare where variables such as disease, weather, machinery breakdowns, bureaucracy and plagues of pests all interact at random.
"It happened to the coal mining industry, but at least the country could still produce power from other sources. "What contingency plan is there when we can no longer feed ourselves? Let the public eat hedges, since these appear to be the main output that farmers are required to produce?"
"It is surely the height of irresponsibility for a government to stand by and watch its country's food-producing capabilities slowly drain away..."
The four articles can all be found on the warmwell newspaper page
Sept 10 ~ spontaneous public protest will not be sufficient to change the course of government policy
George Monbiot, writing in today's Guardian, sees the unions as providing the only hope of a real opposition to the corporate takeover of Britain, and the government's capitulation to big business.
"..... It may not be fair of us to expect them to fight our battles on our behalf, and it is certainly lazy, but when the public is ready to thrust greatness upon them, they should not be reluctant to accept it. We now expect them to articulate the concerns not only of their own members but also of all those whose needs have been subordinated to corporate greed.
.......The civil servants who run our public services know that the extra money the chancellor has found for health and education is likely to be swallowed by the massively inflated costs of permitting private companies to build and run our schools and hospitals. ..... ..... interests are best served by doing what they are told and hoping that they make enough money to buy private health insurance and insulate themselves from the inevitable collapse of the system they now run. . ...."
Sept 10 ~" Boredom sets in, largely because it is all too complicated and confusing."
A letter from Lord Barber of Tewkesbury in the Telegraph this morning, ".....in the tons of official documents and the interminable prattling from platforms, no one has taken the trouble to fashion a few simple perspectives for the benefit of public understanding. Take the actual case of a brilliantly managed 1,000-acre farm, growing arable crops of wheat, barley and oil seed rape. In the past financial year, it made a profit of £25,000 and received CAP subsidies, payments, call them what you will, of £77,000. Only mental arithmetic is required to perceive that the predicted small annual reductions in these CAP monies will soon extinguish the profit. This farmer, and hundreds like him, are told by the powers-that-be to get "closer to the market".
Unfortunately the public does not chew wheat or grind up oil seed with its teeth. These crops have to be sold on to the processing markets. But the business and marketing control on this and similar farms is on the top line; every penny is squeezed out of the crops going off and the materials coming in...."
Sept 10 ~ Error in number of virus positive cases
Nicola Morris finally received an answer to the letter she wrote to Mrs Beckett at the end of July. Francis Marlow - DEFRA inquiry liaison unit - reponded, or rather actually responded to half of it- and Nicola Morris is far from satisfied.
See her worried reply. to Mr Francis concerning
"In view of the urgency of the situation (debate in House of Lords 8/9 October), we look forward to a speedy reply to this e-mail, including an explanation of how the errors in the LLI and NAO reports will be brought to the attention of Parliament....the percentages quoted in the the Lessons to be Learned Inquiry report (172-173) are wrong and the error should be brought to Parliament's attention as soon as possible. Certainly before the Animal Health Bill is debated in the Lords. "
- Error in number of virus positive cases
...Of the cases testing posive 171 did not test positive for virus - they were positive for antibodies and negative for virus.
- Delays in slaughter
...the true delays in slaughter are not accurately recorded in the NAO or LLI report as they refer to date of confirmation not the date of infection
- Start date of the epidemic
...Please explain how France and The Netherlands were infected by UK sheep if Hexham Market did not become infected until 13/02/01?
- Calculation of Ro
...the correct data does not support Dr Andersons conclusion that the pre-emptive slaughter policy as implemented was justified.
Sept 10 ~ "It is utterly unrealistic for the government to regard our troubled world as a supermarket that it can visit at guaranteed intervals with its shopping trolley."
Beef production within the UK could fall by anything between 30-50 per cent says the National Beef Association . "We find it impossible to think there can be any other result than a dramatic reduction in the national herd and in view of this have told Defra it must install a qualifying stocking rate so that all farms receiving subsidy carry at least some cattle and beef industry structures are offered some long term protection."
And the Association is appalled that the UK government, and the European Commission, appear prepared to jettison EU livestock production in favour of concerns over the sustainability of domestic agriculture that have still to be properly defined.
"Huge issues will emerge if this nebulous policy is allowed to be adopted unchallenged. Not least of these is food security and the likely damage to the world's ecology if our own beef production is transferred to other counties, which unlike our own, have no environmental conscience whatsoever," said Mr Robinson.
"It is utterly unrealistic for the government to regard our troubled world as a supermarket that it can visit at guaranteed intervals with its shopping trolley."
Sept 10 ~ A Better Cap - a report from the Family Farmers Association
Extract from the report: " If there was one thing the trauma of foot and mouth did for farming, it was to make plain its importance. Our farming can care for the fabric of our countryside for all to enjoy. Farming is the backbone of the economy in rural areas. It can provide satisfying employment and add to the general prosperity of the nation. It can provide home grown food, the methods of production of which remain under our control. It produces food close to the consumer which does not need to be transported thousands of miles before it is eaten...
... If we are going to change the CAP, let us get away from its present form altogether and stop talking about the first and second pillars. Let us organise farming properly, recognising that it is interrelated with many other rural activities. Farming should once again become the mainstay of the rural economy which it was for some years after the last war, when still considered important. Farming needs a long term plan for survival, based on its primary purpose of producing food and other products of the land, rather than a programme of substitute activities. ...."
Sept 10 ~ "..the very disaster is used as justification to consolidate more power "
Dr Richard North in a brief email sent to an internet forum gives his view of what he calls the "beneficial crisis" :"Events such as the terrorists outrage on the New York Twin Towers , the Belgian dioxin scare, BSE, immigration, and a host of other issues, are seized upon by the advocates of integration. They demand a European dimension to each problem, giving the Community an opportunity to pass more legislation and thus for the Commission to acquire more power. The idea stems from Monnet. According to Duchêne...."
In a response to this, another emailer writes, "Certainly applicable to FMD isn't it? . First we have Defra, and government agencies, scientists, whose own actions (or lack thereof in the case of vaccination) turned the whole episode into a disaster. Then the very disaster is used as justification to consolidate more power (such as Animal Health Bill etc) in the hands of the miscreants."
Sept 9 ~ "Do Cumbrians have no right to obtain accountability?"
Nick Green says, of the Cumbria Report, "I appear to be out of step with what some people feel about this report. However, on the ground there is a rising dissatisfaction with what is perceived to be a weak, watered down report where political correctness rules over honesty and truth.....In the report Prof. Thomas states that DEFRA were very helpful in answering his questions, but worryingly does not state if the team received full replies to their questions. ... Did the British Government ever admit who ordered the illegal 3km cull? Apparently Blair "couldn't remember." ..
20% of those under surveillance are showing signs of PTS and other mental problems. Here, we know damn well the extent of the human suffering. What we need to have reported once and for all is EXACTLY WHO was responsible for this...
Prof. Thomas has, within the report, tactfully strayed from any personal accountability. Why?
Why was the name of the MAFF person who sent threatening letters to farmers removed from the report? For the record it was Nikki Ellis, MAFF Carlisle.
Why did Prof. Thomas not FULLY debate the very questionable legal aspects of the 3km/Firebreak culls? I know he had all the evidence.
Why did Prof. Thomas NOT record the details found in the leaked Memo from Page Street to Elliot Morley?...
Why did Prof. Thomas not mention the National Police Report..their harrowing story of trying to track down a badly injured bull for hours, leaning on the dead bodies of recently culled sheep etc. etc. Thomas states in reference to poor animal welfare " that most of the cases referred to could not be confirmed independently". That is simply not true..."
Sept 9 ~" The two most costly problems in recent years have been BSE and its human equivalent, vCJD, and foot-and-mouth
both animal diseases with which the service was not involved." An article today in the Times "50 years of tracking down the bugs" shows how good is the threatened Public Health Laboratory Service for human disease - the implication being of course that we need the same level of no-strings funding and independent expertise in its equivalent for animal diseases.
" Its expertise in epidemiology was ignored by the Ministry of Agriculture in studying BSE. That was an error, the BSE inquiry concluded. ..... TB is a deadly killer elsewhere in the world and its re-emergence is a serious threat. Even deadlier is the drug-resistant form, which is much harder to treat." It would seem that Dr Ruth Watkins' proposal to the European Parliament is timely.
Yet - such is the state of Britain's mad Empire builders that Nigel Hawkes of the Times also reports that the excellent PHLS is now under threat." The Chief Medical Officer believes that hospital laboratories can do the job as well, and the service has been ordered to transfer its staff and premises to the NHS by next April."
Sept 9 ~ Frustrated by government indifference
Robery Ulig's article in today's Telegraph:.... More than 400 jobs have been lost in farming every week since Labour came to power, farmers will disclose today at the launch of a 10-day publicity campaign before the Liberty and Livelihood March and party conferences.
Farmers will take to the streets to highlight the crisis in agriculture and to gather support for the demonstration on Sept 22.
The campaign will culminate in Ben Gill, the president of the National Farmers' Union, leading a delegation on the march. The Farming Counts campaign is seen as a last-ditch attempt by the NFU to make the public aware of why farming is the cornerstone of the rural economy and what would be lost if it were allowed to disappear. It will tell the public that farming is in its worst state for decades because farmers earn little more than a quarter of the price that supermarkets charge for food and often significantly less than the cost of production.
Mr Gill said yesterday that an average basket of farm produce, including beef, eggs, milk, bread, tomatoes and apples, typically cost £37 in the shops. But a farmer received only £11......He said that if farming did not return to profitability, the industry could disappear, taking with it 550,000 jobs and the heart of the food industry, the country's largest employer. With farmers caring for three quarters of the land, the crisis could also result in profound changes to the countryside "
Sept 7 ~ How the papers report the Cumbria Report
The Telegraph says, "Britain remains ill-equipped to deal with any new outbreak of foot and mouth disease because of the Government's failure to learn lessons from last year's epidemic, according to an independent report released yesterday.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was accused of failing to produce an adequate contingency plan despite delays in decision-taking exacerbating last year's crisis.
Its efforts so far need "very substantial revision". A strategy that would engage all the relevant agencies, including local authorities, was one vital missing component." (See Newspaper page)
Labour's "favourite paper", the Times, prefers to put all the blame on Nestlé - as if that company were the target of Cumbria's criticisms: "NESTLE, the world's biggest consumer food conglomerate, was blamed yesterday in an independent report for the failure to vaccinate livestock against foot-and-mouth disease. The Cumbria Foot and Mouth Task Force report said that Nestlé, the region's only milk producer, had "serious reservations" against accepting milk...." (Times online)
In the Guardian, Peter Hetherington chooses to focus on the "pollution threat" from Great Orton. It falls to the local Cumbria News and Star to highlight what is the most important human element of the report - that one person in five is still suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Sept 7 ~ "We were let down"
is the headline in the North Western Mail reporting on the Cumbria Report. It concludes, " It is feared Defra will largely ignore the report but it is hoped Brussels will pressure the government into accepting its findings. These include improved efforts to prevent further outbreaks, a revision of epidemic emergency plans and improved communications between Defra and regional offices. "
Sept 7 ~ Animal Health Bill waits in the wings to continue the slaughter
All the news reports - however briefly they report the Cumbria findings - seem to agree that Britain has failed to learn lessons from the 2001 foot and mouth horror and that no adequate contingency plan exists even now. Yet in just one month, the Animal Health Bill - that Orwellian-named piece of face-saving animal-killing legislation -will march on through the House of Lords to its rapid transformation into law. Can no one in the media see the illogicality of putting into English law a brutal piece of legislation that has no scientific or veterinary justification? Few would now say that the slaughter policy of Anderson and King was justifiable - yet here we are, about to put another in motion and this time there will be no safety net from the courts.
Sept 7 ~ Farm virus lessons 'not learned' says BBC
In a very brief and muted report, the" BBC says:"..The inquiry, which was paid for by Cumbria County Council, found the government's policies and strategies were adjusted haphazardly to deal with the emerging situation as it arose.
The report, which contains 31 recommendations<"A>, will be sent to the government and considered by the European Parliament. "
Were the 28 questions submitted on May 8th by the inquiry panel to Margaret Beckett as part of the Cumbria inquiry ever answered? It seems not. And if DEFRA never ever responded to Professor Thomas' req"est for it" cooperation, it seems unlikely that the "government" will be particularly bothered by"the Cumbria"Report. Nor is it likely - having refused calls from all sides for a proper open public inquiry - to heed Mr Hayes demand for a public debate.
Sept 7 ~ Strike success for Farmers for Action -"UL>(From the FFA site) "Safeway, Asda and Tesco were targeted resulting in Safeway faxing us last night advising that they were removing all French UHT milk from shelves today and it would be replaced by British milk supplied by Milk Link. Also will be meeting with Asda & Tesco milk buyers re increase in milk price of at least 4p a litre not the unacceptable 2p they have mentioned.
Largest Police presence we have ever encountered at Chepstow in Monmouthshire last night (ie 48 riot police, 4 dog handlers plus local police, although they only 'protected ' Tesco and did not seem concerned when we went down the road to Asda and blockaded their depot! Perhaps they were out looking for the rumoured black pumas ( which have been "ighted in the area this week) and came across FFA! There "re a few images"in PictureLibrary"
Sept 6 ~ Hayes: a full debate in the House of Commons needed on foot and mouth reports
John Hayes MP, Shadow Agriculture Minister, commenting on the publication of the results of the Cumbrian Inquiry into foot and mouth said today: "br> "The conclusions of the Cumbrian foot and mouth report reinforce the need for a thorough examination of what went wrong last year. This should come in the form of a full debate in the House of Commons. Members of Parliament can then use their local experiences to ensure that there are sufficient contingency plans in place for a future outbreak. "br> "There have been a plethora of reports into foot and mouth which must not be left on the shelf. They have all told of Government incompetence on an extraordinary level. A debate will help to guarantee that lessons are learnt and that crucial q"estions about the Government's handling of the disease are fully answered"
Sept 6 ~ remotene"s of central government from farming practice and the rural way of life
(p12) " During our collection of evidence we became conscious of repeated underlying themes related to the to the remoteness of central government from farming practice and the rural way of life. All sectors of the community expressed disenchantment with the political system and felt they had been let down during the FMD crisis. This seemed symptomatic of a growing distrust and community alienation...urban issues often dominate political priorities. There is a need to find ways of raising awareness and understanding of rural agendas and for public policies to be formulated from a practical u"derstanding of the problems that need to be addressed. .""
Sept 6 ~ a 'great indignity to the animals'
The Cumbria Report. We received a personal account of this kind of situation in oral evidence from Councillor G. Strong whose 246 cattle and 750 sheep had been disposed of a week after slaughter. By that time the animals were beginning to decompose and 'come apart' as they were being moved for destruction. This was a 'great indignity to the animals' and the smell was causing significant distress both to the farmer and his family and to his neighbours in the nearby village."
Sept 6 ~ there is little evidence that the epidemiological data that has been collected is providing new insights which will help to develop improved disease control strategies.
This point is, in our opinion, one of the most important to be made apart from those about the social impact of the handling of the disease. This tragically wasted opportunity, brought about by the failure of those in charge to seek and take advice, has made Britain seem foolish in the eyes of rest of the world.
Sept 6 ~"usefulness of the data..."
We recommend that DEFRA commissions an external review of its provision of epidemiological support in connection with FMD, and of the usefulness of the data collected to the understanding of disease spread."
Sept 6 ~ 'it was like a war zone'
"Family life was disrupted; livelihoods were under threat; social activities were curtailed; and friends became divided by conflicts of view or competing interests. We have heard of the tension in the community, but also of the collaboration, mutual support and community leadership that came to the County's aid when it was most needed.
During our inquiries we received evidence of the many hardships that were faced by individuals and families, and of the distress, frustration and anger (not always in that order) that were experienced. We have been impressed by the commitment and outstanding work of the many groups and organisations that played vital roles in providing practical support and assistance. And we have noted the community appreciation of the many individuals who worked tirelessly to deal with the crisis and fashion recovery and regeneration. The most frequently applied description has been 'it was like a war zone', and few people to whom we have spoken would seem to disagree..."(p76)
Sept 6 ~ post-traumatic experience
"There was considerable evidence of the impact of the FMD outbreak on community life in rural Cumbria and on aspects of emotional, social and mental health. These effects are difficult to quantify on a population basis but results of ongoing research, with a study group of 54 people from a range of occupations, give cause for concern. Some 20% of the group are reporting signs of post-traumatic experience and 11% are being treated for clinical depression or anxiety." (Executive Summary)
Sept 6 ~ ".. the insularity of the local Animal Health Office "
"..we were disturbed by the range of systems and communications failings that were identified during the Inquiry. A lack of appropriate contingency planning, and a failure to adhere to some of the provisions in the contingency plan that existed, compromised the FMD disease control campaign from the outset. This was made worse by the insularity of the local Animal Health Office...." (Executive Summary)
Sept 6 ~ Great Orton
"...during its construction and use it brought great disruption and distress to the local communities, including the village of Great Orton. Large numbers of heavy lorries and the pervasive smell from the site were major problems until late 2001. Since the site is government owned it did not require normal local planning approval, and there was little if any pre-consultation. We understand that the facility may be unique in that it will be controlled under the Groundwater Regulations 1998 rather than licensed as a waste disposal facility. There is some concern on the part of the Local Authority Environmental Health Department that this may present longer-term regulatory and enforcement issues...." (p74)
Sept 6 ~Communication problems with DEFRA
"... a significant number of those who spoke to us, particularly at the public meetings, had encountered problems of communication with DEFRA at some stage during the chain of events from their farm being identified for slaughter to payments being received for the livestock destroyed. We cannot attempt to offer an authoritative analysis of the range of communication problems that occurred during the epidemic, but the subject deserves serious study as a basis for improving government services to rural communities. The following list, which is not in any order of priority, indicates communication areas we noted as being problematic.
- Communication as a two-way process. There was, and remains, a sense of frustration amongst the communities of Cumbria that the communication during the epidemic was 'top down'.....
- Simple Messages. ...
- Methods of communication. ....
- Consistent information. .... (see page 34)
Sept 6 ~ We recommend that, as a matter of policy, all changes by Government in disease control legislation
requiring implementation by Local Authorities should be supported by appropriate risk-assessment guidance (page 79).
Here is a list of the Report's major recommendations.
Sept 6 ~ "Vaccination must be regarded as an essential element in the control strategy.
Under these circumstances there is a significant risk that slaughtering to 'stamp out' the disease will fail to keep up with its spread, and disposal will fail to keep up with slaughtering. In short, there is the risk of creating circumstances similar to those which occurred in Cumbria in 2001, where large-scale slaughter of animals was ineffective as a rapid and efficient method of disease control. We believe those circumstances should be avoided at all costs ...a vaccination-to- live policy would require a livestock support regime that would offset market failures occurring as a result of the vaccination policy adopted. ...we understand that such a scheme might be acceptable under EU law." (page 56 Cumbria Report)
Sept 6 ~ "We recommend that DEFRA undertakes a comprehensive revision of its draft contingency plan
in the light of the findings of this and other FMD Inquiries. The plan should be conceived on a multi-agency basis and should engage all the relevant agencies, including the County Councils. In local FMD planning, the Cumbria County Council Emergency Centre should be considered as a 'hub' facility for any future multi-agency response......the local Contingency Plan should specify clearly the stage and scale of epidemic that will trigger a request from DEFRA for assistance from the Army........local authorisation of action in dealing with an outbreak should be introduced as early as possible, with DEFRA headquarters kept fully informed of decisions......"
The Carlisle Health Office was "overwhelmed", As a result of the handling of FMD, the farming and rural communities of Cumbria have suffered an enormous loss in confidence in DEFRA. It will be an uphill struggle for the Department to restore the relationships....
Sept 6 ~ Cumbria Report (p34) "Totalitarian"
" We received a range of distressing accounts of poor communication between the authorities and farmers (and others) relating to the culling and disposal of animals. In some instances the approach that the authorities were described as having taken bordered on the totalitarian. We can find no excuse for this..."
"Relevant knowledge. In dealing with the farming industry, communicators and administrators require a relevant level of knowledge of agriculture and food production. In many instances this appeared to be lacking.
Written communication. .... Some letters used unfortunate choices of expression, were not sufficiently clear or appeared threatening..... poorly photocopied forms that were difficult to read..... evidence of the Department giving verbal instructions or making agreements, which were not confirmed by letter, leading to later dispute " (page 35)
Sept 6 ~ "an upsurge of public objection and to expressions of public concern, frustration and anger
at the way that the epidemic was being handled. Individuals and communities felt that they were being unconsidered or poorly served by the authorities, and there was a loss of confidence in the government department leading the control and eradication process....." The Cumbria Report on FMD may be read here.
Sept 6 ~ The countryside is a tapestry, all interwoven, and if you pick at one strand it will unravel. It will not be the end.
"This estate has been here for six or seven hundred years. Things have changed an enormous amount and everyone is united in saying we don't want to change any more. "It is about time that we were left alone." See today's Western Morning News
Sept 6 ~ TAX TO BE LEVIED ON FOOT AND MOUTH AID
See Western Morning News "The Treasury was last night accused of "astonishing meanness" after it emerged that it plans to land a £3 million tax bombshell on Westcountry businesses devastated by last year's foot and mouth crisis....."
An emailer from America writes, "I have just read on warmwell....the plans to tax people for money granted to them last year, for losses of income incurred regarding the FMD situation. It seems to me, and I am an American, that your Government is out to destroy its own people. When these grants were made, there was no provision as to the taxability of those funds. Did anyone tell anyone that those funds would be taxable? Now your government wants them taxed.
Your government has also failed to compensate, not only producers but also cities and councils for its actions taken last year.
It has also failed to apply for funding from the EU, for ag producers, and continues to renege on application for entitled funds. As I live 6,000 miles away from you and don't have to put up with the nonsense the British government lays on all you good people, I have to say this. Leave your country. Your government is so crazy now....no one believes in anything. Blair's administration is trying to change the countryside and make it a walk park."
Sept 6 ~ The Cumbria Report on Foot and Mouth is published at midday
The 120-page report, to be launched at Rheged, near Penrith, is expected to be the most graphic account yet of the outbreak, says Farmers Weekly.
It will make about 30 detailed recommendations, including plans to develop a strategy to fight any future disease outbreak in the county. It will warn that the scale of last year's crisis, which engulfed the entire region, must never be repeated.
Such was the scale of the investigation that Prof Thomas spent an extra six weeks writing his final report.
Government officials are expected to come in for special criticism.
Brigadier Alex Birtwistle, the soldier who led the fight against the epidemic in Cumbria, gave evidence to inquiry officials earlier this year. A lack of management, leadership and resources resulted in major failures to control the disease during the first three weeks of the outbreak, he said.
Sept 6 ~ Saturday is National Don't Shop at Supermarkets Day
Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South East England, says: "Supermarkets control our food market to such an extent they wield enormous power over what we eat, how it is packaged and how much we pay for it. "Unfortunately this power has not often been a force for good. The supermarkets have been a driving force in the increasing industrialisation of agriculture, which has been responsible for food scares and the spread of animal disease, factory farming and poor animal welfare. More directly, the supermarket chains undermine local economies, produce excess waste and packaging and encourage car dependency."
"The supermarkets' relentless drive for increased profits has dramatic repercussions across the developing world too. They source much of the food they sell from countries where wages are low, working conditions are poor and environmental regulation weak or non-existent, causing the best land to be switched to export production even where local people are unable to feed themselves, as in parts of Southern Africa currently."
Sept 6 ~"Lets make Jim Walker President of the UK National Farmers Union."
(See FFA website) -
"....We have already told Tescos, 2p for October is a pebble in the ocean. It is only a replacement of the monies their present processors stole from us on the 1 July. It is no good coming out with statements of their concern for our industry when they give with one hand and bring in South African cheese with the other, at a price equivalent of 16.9p a litre which would mean cheese producers in the UK to compete would only be able to pay their producers around 13p. Come on Mr Leahy and Mr Gill, we the grassroots dairy farmers of this country actually do have a brain. FFA have clearly stated we demand a minimum of 4p a litre right across the board for an October price increase. It is also no good Mr Leahy demanding that the processors come up with the money, when Tesco are in a far more lucrative position to share that burden with them and to make sure that their customers are able to purchase British dairy produce 365 days of the year. Therefore if he thinks our actions will cease against his company after they continually renege upon deal after deal, he is in for a shock.
As for Mr Gill, as was requested on the day of the food strike, he should hand in his resignation and go peacefully and let us make Jim Walker President of the UK National Farmers Union."
Sept 5 ~ ERRATUM and apologies.
Dr Ruth Watkins excellent and interesting paper was not given in evidence to the EU Commission but to an Ad Hoc Committee of the European Parliament. Warmwell's mistake - corrected by our Westminster Correspondent, to whom many thanks.
Sept 5 ~ Warmwell will next be updated tomorrow, the day of the long-awaited publication of the Cumbria report into Foot and Mouth.
The report may be read on the Cumbria County Council website from 12 noon tomorrow (Friday 6th September).
Sept 4/5 ~ "..Tesco director John Gildersleeve said it was clear that British dairy farmers were struggling in a difficult and complex market.
and called on dairy processors to pay farmers at least two pence per litre more for their milk." See FWi
".....Jim Walker, president of the National Farmers' Union Scotland, described the Tesco announcement as a move in the right direction. But serious questions remained and must be addressed, he said.
"First, producers will require a commitment that any increase will be passed on directly to them and that processors will pass the increase to the co-operatives.
"Second, this increase should not just be for liquid milk, but also for milk products such as cheese.
"It is also crucial that the other major retailers take the same step and urge their suppliers to increase the farmgate milk price. ....... an NFUS spokesperson said the union was "not ruling anything out or in" and the protests were still likely to go ahead.
Sept 4 ~ The government has made it increasingly difficult for farmers to operate
"One of the biggest livestock markets in the East Midlands could close unless business picks up, farmers and market operators say. The Newark market in Nottinghamshire reopened in February 2002, but sales have remained low because of the lingering effects of the foot-and-mouth crisis.
...Farm auctioneer Stuart Rose of Gascoines said farmers are struggling with government regulations on the movement of cattle, and trade at the market has plummeted.
"Before the foot-and-mouth crisis, we would see 500 fat cattle and 1,000 sheep on a market day, but now we only get 150 cattle and between 300 and 400 sheep," he said. BBC report
Sept 4 ~ issues are likely to be sidelined by the shrill dispute over hunting
Something urgently needs to be done before Sept 22 to reassure those who feel, as the Reverend Graham Hellier does, "immense sympathy and support for farmers and rural communities" Today's Times letters: Countryside march
From the Reverend Graham Hellier
Sir, The most remarkable feature of the March for Liberty and Livelihood on September 22 is the scale of the missed opportunity. There is immense sympathy and support for farmers and rural communities which could be used to tackle creatively the problems of changing agriculture, farming incomes, rural services and land ownership, yet these issues are likely to be sidelined by the shrill dispute over hunting. Highlighting this marginal matter, over which country people themselves are divided, will alienate many and give a misleading impression of countryside preoccupations.
GRAHAM HELLIER, Monmarsh End, Marden, Hereford HR1 3EZ.
Sept 4 ~ The fish might escape into the environment with unforeseeable consequences,
warns the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission in a new report on cloned and GM animals. ( New Scientist)
"Once the fish has escaped, there's virtually nothing that can be done to recall it," says commission chairman, Malcolm Grant. He says the commission's report is aimed at pre-empting in GM animals the public relations disaster that has effectively killed off Europe's interest in GM foods.
A PUBLIC RELATIONS disaster would it be? This is the Alistair Campbell school of political concern. Never mind the environmental catastrophe - watch the headlines.
"Genetic biotechnology has opened a new chapter in the relationship between man and animals," says Grant.
A chapter that should be closed with horrified repugnance as soon as possible, says warmwell. The only ethical relationship between man and animal should be one in which man respects the animal - even if ultimately - after a mutually beneficial contract - the animal provides man with food and materials.
Sept 4 ~ The concentration typical of factory farms extends to the genetic level
The "debate" about cloning, with its talk of "medicine milk from GM sheep" (Sky News this morning) must remember that the poultry and pork industries depend on very few different types of turkeys, chickens and pigs, and the beef industry is going that way too. A precarious narrowing of genetic resources has been described in the New York Times as "an inverted pyramid, an enormous number of animals all resting on the same narrow genetic base, exposing them to the risk of catastrophic disease and requiring an inappropriate use of antibiotics to ensure their health." Genetic diversity is as important in farm animals, like pigs and chickens, as it is anywhere. Small independent farms are necessary as well as desirable....and once destroyed, as they are being in this country, they will never come back.
Sept 3/4 ~ "Safe to eat" does not mean ethically acceptable
Britain is fast becoming the sort of "Emperor's New Clothes" country where only the young and sentimental (a deeply perjorative term), dare to shout that something is WRONG WRONG WRONG. The AEBC's report on cloning merely proposes that "genetic biotechnology... gets used wholly for the public good and isn't dominated wholly by profit motive" and that "animal welfare legislation is updated to cover genetically modified (GM) animals."
Animal Welfare is now Newspeak for the maximum animal cruelty legally allowed. And cloning seems to us to be wrong, wrong, wrong as well as being scientifically unsound. Dr Watkins' proposal to the EU Inquiry shows clearly that the same is true of the FMD disease control policy last year: warmwell's sentimental view
Sept 3/4 ~ Lidington: Government must heed report on GM animals
David Lidington MP, Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA, commenting on a report by the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission on genetically modified and cloned animals, said:
"We welcome this report as a contribution to the ongoing debate on animal cloning. It is very important that if GM foodstuffs are sold in this country in the future that there is clear labelling so that consumers can make an informed choice.
"This government must not make the same mistakes in this area that it has made with genetically modified crops. Consumers will welcome the recommendation in the report that the government consulted more widely and shares information. A proper and informed debate is needed, future decisions must be based on sound science, not political spin."
Cloning animals appears ethically wrong - and warmwell finds it hard to credit that others do not share its unequivocal revulsion.
Cloned animals that survive are weak - poor "Dolly" soon suffered from degenerative arthritis - and the process results in many failed experimental animals whose deaths are kept well away from the public gaze. As for bio-diversity, how can the ever dwindling genetic bank caused by cloning be justifiable?
Sept 3 ~ DEFRA offers Ash Moor to DCC at grossly inflated price
We read in the Western Morning News that although "Defra has agreed to restore Ash Moor, near Petrockstow in North Devon, to its original condition, it has also offered the council the chance to buy the land at a cost of £350,000 if it wishes to make any additional improvements - even though the Audit Commission valued the site at one third of the price. .."
Sept 3 ~ Dr Ruth Watkins at Strasbourg
Dr. Watkins, the eminent virologist whose appalled concern and constructive advice was studiously ignored throughout the FMD crisis, yesterday in her evidence to the EU Inquiry into FMD chose to focus very positively on a proposal for the future - A Professional Diagnostic Service - rather than on any justifiable recriminations. Even so, the comparison between her proposal for the future and what actually happened highlights the tragic errors made by those who have remained unaccountable for their actions.
Sept 3 ~ A professional diagnostic service headed by a dedicated, highly trained specialist, is my suggestion for avoiding the worst errors of the 2001 FMD UK outbreak.
Dr. Ruth Watkins. "When an epidemic is discovered, a competent professional service will be provided by a dedicated veterinary virologist with a thorough grounded professional competence -including higher specialist training in all veterinary animal viruses relevant to the UK. He or she will have appropriate clinical veterinary experience and be a member of the Royal College of Pathologists (by examination) This specialist veterinary virology consultant ... would play the lead role in managing the outbreak
- give advice on differential diagnosis
- produce policies and protocols
- carry out laboratory testing and be in charge of the interpretation of its results
- educate and liaise with in-house vets, vets in general and others such as DEFRA employees.
Research scientists have, unfortunately, to spend much of their time raising money for research and in the writing of papers for publication. This is what they are appraised on. However, the consultant in charge of this proposed diagnostic service would instead be appraised on the provision of such a service - not on research. (SVS officials from DEFRA do not have the ongoing responsibility and knowledge that hands-on experience of running a virus laboratory brings.)
CLICK HERE for Dr Ruth Watkins positive proposal and how it differs from what actually happened
Sept 3 ~ There has been a failure to learn from the 2001 UK epidemic.
part of Dr Watkins' talk
There was a failure to apply what was quickly learnt and published by Dr Donaldson; the lack of aerosol spread of the epidemic strain, which rendered the 3km culling policy unnecessary.
- failure to test the culling policy of contiguous premises or over 3km premises against independent data such as laboratory results
- failure to apply vaccination in at least some areas
- failure to assess anti-NSP tests
- failure to learn about the spread of FMD under different circumstances such as extensive grazing on the Brecon Beacons where there is in fact no hard evidence of its spread outside the single infected heft whilst up on the mountain.
A virologist would have planned to learn as much as possible. However, virologists were sidelined during the UK epidemic.
Without authority given to specially trained and dedicated virologists I can see no hope yet that should FMD recur in Britain we are ready to do any better.
Sept 3 ~" Will we continue to make a hash of animal infectious disease?" Dr Watkins
"This has an important implication for human health - just take bovine TB for example, caused by Mycobacterium bovis. This was unjustifiably neglected in the FMD epidemic. There has been a resurgence as untested cattle have been moved all over the country, even from the known residual hotspots, with the spread of TB to previously uninfected herds. What of the dedicated and highly trained veterinary microbiologists?"
See also Dr Watkins' submission to the Royal Society
Sept 3 ~ GM crops "I have never seen so many environmental ministers hugging each other as when the proposal went down,''
said one British negotiator early this morning. The Independent reported (yesterday) "American plans to force genetically modified crops and food on to Third World countries were unexpectedly frustrated at the Earth Summit last night. After an impassioned plea from Ethiopia, ministers rejected clauses in the summit's plan of action which would have given the World Trade Organisation (WTO) powers over international treaties on the environment.
One effect of this would have been to give the WTO the power to override the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, giving developing countries the right to refuse to take GM imports. The WTO regards free trade as its top priority.
The breakthrough -- which rocked the American delegation, which has been blocking progress on most issues at the summit -- took place as negotiators worked through the night to resolve the outstanding disagreements on the plan.
For most of the day the proposal had seemed fated to go through. Beside opening the door to GM, it would have placed at risk international treaties controlling the trade in toxic waste, chemicals that destroy the ozone layer, and the pollution that causes global warming."
Sept 3 ~ In defence of the RSPCA
A respected emailer writes, "I do (I am embarrassed to admit it) have an affinity with the RSPCA because, for all of their ineffectiveness, I did read through their letters, and can see there is a strong thread of compassion and agreement with what we all have been pushing for. Where they have failed is to become too friendly with the Government - to see them nodding in agreement with what we say about the crap laws, and then nodding in agreement with Government ministers over the hot air they share is just too much. In their eyes it seems that everyone is right!"
See also this article by Jon Dobson of the FMD Forum.
Sept 3 ~ Not the fault of the BBC
Since publishing the item below we have received this email, "Jeremy Bowen was trying to lead the couple into hammering the policy and to say that the killing and the pyres were so wrong. BUT, they didn't! They said the killing and the pyres was the best method and that they have not been given enough information about vaccination! Also said that if vaccination was used the stock would have to be killed at which Jeremy Bowen said, "of course, but could it be used to help stem the spread?"
Reply " Killing is best!"
They then went on to moan about "Bush Meat" imports not being controlled!
They must have been NFU! Must have been! Surely, no one in the know could be this ignorant?"
Some information about vaccination
Sept 2 ~ Strange misinformation from the BBC this morning.
How sad to have received emails this morning that say, "This morning I caught an interview on BBC breakfast TV with a farming couple Sally and Dave (didn't catch their surname). Was appalled to hear all the old chestnuts pulled out of the bag again - from vaccination not being possible because of the neccessity to slaughter afterwards to regain the status of being free from FMD to 6 million animals slaughtered (well I suppose that's an improvement on 4 million...) plus pyres being the most effective and quickest method for disposing of dead animals (what about all those dioxins etc.???)...... Then they mentioned that yes they were going on the Countryside march on September 22 - after all people living in the country must be allowed their "leisure and social activities". I wonder where on earth the Beeb found them......
By the by, has anybody ever actually proved that f&m CAN be caught from dead meat????
Right, I'm down off my soapbox now - that really wasn't a good start to the day"
"Saw BBC TV this morning! More rubbish, this time from a beef rearing couple from Worcester! have you heard? Will summarise later!"
Sept 2 ~".. it is a pity the FSA only leaps to defend the truth when it is itself misrepresented." Booker on Haggis
From the Sunday Telegraph "A mystery last week was the news which flashed round the world that Sir John Krebs's Food Standards Agency planned to ban that Scottish delicacy, the haggis. From the Today programme to the Toronto Star, it was reported that the agency was calling for a ban on the grounds that haggis is made from the intestines of sheep, as another twist in Sir John's remorseless campaign to link sheep to BSE.
I was then contacted by a highly irate Bill McKean, king of Scottish haggis-makers, to point out that haggis has no connection with sheep's intestines whatever. The mystery only deepened when I rang the FSA itself, to be told they were well aware that haggis is not made from sheep's intestines and that this seemed to be only a silly season fiction manufactured by mischievous journalists.
What is not a fiction, alas, is Sir John's dotty campaign to link sheep with BSE, and his hope that Brussels will accept the recommendation of his friend Professor Roy Anderson that the EU should put 2000 people in Britain out of work by banning the use of sheep's intestines to make the skins vital to high-quality sausages. There is, of course,not a shred of evidence that sheep can catch BSE, any more than there is a shred of proof that eating beef can infect humans with CJD. "NvCJD: the epidemic that never was" as one eminent scientist has derisively called it.
These gifted savants may be relying on the old axiom that if you repeat a lie often enough, you may eventually fool some people into thinking it is true. But it is a pity the FSA only leaps to defend the truth when it is itself misrepresented as making the equally idiotic suggestion that sheeps' intestines are used in haggis."
Sept 2 ~" They had to keep reminding people from the platform that this was an 'open' meeting and they had to mind what they said as there could be 'infiltrators' "
We publish today, without further comment, two accounts of the Labour Party Rural Conference. Both authors are evidently good, decent people.
Sept 2 ~ All the rogues in the meat industry will get off scot-free again.
email just received
"Food Standards Agency - proposed Statutory Instrument
I wonder why the FSA are in such a rush .....
It would appear that FSA wish to ban the sterilisation of meat/meat by-products and use staining as the only safeguard. On the face of it their arguement is sound; however, this is not the answer
....cull only abattoirs. These only take Over Thirty Month cattle. Nothing from here should enter the food chain. But it does. That's the problem. Here the SRM is removed and rendered. The carcase is then stained or dyed blue. The idea being that no one would eat beef that was stained blue, or any other colour but red. But some abattoirs are owned/operated by people who know the profits to be made by selling the meat. The dye is pressure washed off and the meat is cut up and sold. Simple as that."
Read more about the scandal of the profits to be made by those involved in the dirty meat scam - and how the FSA watchdog is barking up the wrong tree again.
Sept 2 ~ "easy for politicians to avoid blame ..."
Times letter under the headline Duping the voters
"IT HAS been suggested that Africans forgive their leaders too readily, that this prevents progress in their countries and that is why Africa gets the leaders it deserves. True indeed. Yet we should pause to think how frequently the same happens in the West.
What punishments or reforms have the British public demanded in the wake of mad cow disease, foot and mouth, or for that matter, the dome? The savings and loans scandal under Ronald Reagan cost US taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. Yet the citizenry did not demand an end to the overzealous deregulation and inherent corruption of US politics which caused it. Indeed, even clamour against political corruption during the 2000 elections by leading politicians such as John McCain had little effect on those elections' outcome.
The sobering conclusion is that it is relatively easy for politicians to avoid blame even in a mature democracy, through interminable investigative committees and other manipulations of what passes for public discourse.
Brian Saker London N12
Sept 2 ~ Give Ash Moor back!
In view of the letter above, it is interesting to read that Elliot Morley wants to sell the Ash Moor site, with the condition of giving Devon County Council a first option to purchase. "If the county council decides not to take up our offer, the land will still be restored, but it will be sold on the open market," he says.
The pit was dug, without planning permission or an environmental impact assessment, to take the carcasses of 500,000 animals killed during last year's foot and mouth outbreak. Construction of the Ash Moor pit cost more than £6 million, with operational costs adding further £20,000 a week to the bill ever since. It was never used. Restoration work, including the removal of pumps, lights and linings, will begin this autumn.
Ron Dawson, chairman of Stamp, (Stop the Ash Moor Pit) said: "It would be only fair that this land be gifted to the county after all the misery caused by Defra. To suggest the community should pay an inflated price of £350,000 is ridiculous. The other concern for me is the fact that we still have to ensure the people responsible for the site are brought to book."
North Devon Journal
Sept 2 ~ " There are signs of the press creeping up on the FSA and panic measures.."
writes Pat Gardiner, "400,000 pigs suffered horribly and died as a precursor to (the FMD) fiasco.... the amazing information that the BVA opposed vaccination during Classical Swine Fever too - for the same reason - their stakeholder's miserable export trade. ...and it is a miserable trade too. Sick, spent old sows for German sausage manufacture.... There are some things decent people don't do, and selling cr*p food to your neighbours is one of them." (Agreed. The humane treatment of sentient beings is not sentimentality in a decent society.)Archive from August 2002 onwards
"The words of a former President of the RCVS and Bent Vets Association effing and blinding across the Telegraph made my day," continues Pat. "The RCVS are right to be worried."