November 11 2004 ~ Mr Dring's mea culpa is honest - but it will surprise no one who reads it carefully that DEFRA decided that such a "memo" should have not find its way to Dr Anderson.
The html version may be viewed here. (link mended) Some worrying entries include..:
- "basic welfare standards at the premises were acceptable, in my experience, up until my visit there of Summer 2000 (such routine visits being made twice yearly). After a series of postponements on my part, this visit, due in July, was finally carried out on 30 August."
- "basic welfare standards" are not, however defined by Mr Dring and on August 30 2000
"....I saw evidence (in the shape of a single live piglet) that at least one litter had been born into an environment where the newborn would stand little chance of protracted survival....all the farm slurry system was choked and overflowing such that slurry was backing up into the pens ...I saw two sows, both bodily very fit, dead in their pens, the bodies left lying in the accumulated slurry among their live pen-mates. "In spite of evidence that the farm was in a miserable state, it was not closed down. Mr Dring made only threats about the revocation of the Article 26 licence (swill feeding). He suggests that cruelty would be "hard to prove".
- On 22 December 2000 he made a visit because of a " complaint, alleging poor welfare standards"
- Dring saw a single lame pig alone in an unbedded pen. He advised that " if the pig did not respond within three days" it should be "euthanised" No prosecution under UPUD3 was made.
- "My previous visit to Burnside before 22 February took place on 24 January"
- At one point he says that this was to "visit the health and condition of all animals in his herd" following the complaint above. Yet elsewhere he says it was "wholly routine". Two pigs in hospital accommodation were particularly examined. ..neither "showed any sign of notifiable disease" asserts Mr Dring.
- "During the course of the morning (February 22 2001) it was confirmed that, after a twenty year absence, FMD had returned to the UK..."
- This suggests that concern about disease had been raised only that moring. But CSF was rampant as was PMWS. As for foot and mouth, the Meat Hygiene Service, Maff SVS vets and Trading Standards had all been put on alert to watch for FMD by being given descriptions and photographs of what to look out for as early as September 2000.
- "With the benefit of hindsight, however, I now see that this is much more likely to have been swill, dropped off close to his holding tank, for incorporation, without prior processing, into his feeding system." It is similarly not good enough to talk about the "benefit of hindsight" when Waugh's premises had been complained about both to the RSPCA and Trading Standards
- " I don't clearly recall noticing it at my December 2000 or January 2001 visits to the farm .." he says of evidence to suggest that the tank that had been used for unprocessed swill.
- "anyone looking for official documentation of the sequence of events related above will look in vain. This is because, though contrary to normal working practice, no such official record was made."
At a time when farmers are expected to keep exhaustive records and spend valuable time filling forms, it is wholly unacceptable for an official to be negligent and irresponsible about record keeping.
- "when I visited Waugh for Article 26 purposes, I concentrated on the health and welfare of his pigs and paid scant - evidently too scant - attention to his waste food feeding practice..." Yet Article 26 is essentially about food feeding practice. Mr Dring's mea culpa is honest - but it is not surprising that it was decided at DEFRA that such a "memo" should have not find its way to Dr Anderson. It seems evident that there were perhaps as many as eight dead sheep hidden in a shed. An inspection worth its name would have found them.