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Observations of a small scale hill farmer affected by FMD restrictions

Alastair Davy

The Hill Farming Initiative and the Northern Dales farmers Market Ltd



Foot and Mouth disease for a livestock producer is a disaster both emotionally and financially. Decisions over his business will be made by others who can not realise what it is like to be at the receiving end of those decisions. The feeling of helplessness will last for a lifetime and the torture and anguish of a cull will always be a nightmare. It is therefore extremely important that lines of communication remain open and available between decision maker and producer

Effects of FMD restrictions and their aftershocks

Information on FMD and restrictions

Immediate and clear statements to reach farmers 1st hand (instance this outbreak info on movement requirements only obtained from abattoir) - no direct statement from DEFRA or vet org. 2nd hand info from radio and TV (waterborne, soilborne, human error?) all after assurance that FMD would be properly managed (Pirbright and why the risk eg anthrax and Grunyard Island). Slaughter under welfare (starvation and implications) - lack of disinfectant - behaviour of those carrying out cull (pubs, transport and bodily fluids)

Proper controls at ports and imports from endemic countries

No proper controls at points of entry - (instance airports, Ireland and New Zealand) - imports from S America when exports from here banned (proper checks kept? Where did FMD come from in 1st place - how?) - not enough informed answers - this is an island and should be easy to monitor - laxness abounds

Effects on farmers and their communities

Emotional (family and stock) financial (borrowing, costs, diminished returns, solitude and knock on effect to local community and tourism) effects still being felt from 2001

Importance of vets and their relationship to farmers

Link to outside world and source of information - helped carry the burden - trusted

Contradictions of disease control policies (footpaths, rivers, regional, movements)

Conclusion - This second outbreak of FMD will finish many small and medium sized farmers who were in protective zones and not culled last time. The fact that this was loosed on them by Pirbright is unforgivable. The effect on their future and the local economy can not be over estimated - the shockwaves felt forever. The future demands clear, concise, authoritative statements on disease, based on proper research and on veterinary knowledge rather than political requirement. The veterinary advice and associated costs should be borne and carried out by DEFRA and Government