From the newsletter 73 from Alan Beat's smallholders.org
EDITORIALThis week marks the second anniversary of the foot and mouth catastrophe that changed so many lives for ever, including our own. The disease itself may have abated for the time being, but others have emerged to fill the vacuum: scrapie, TB, and now brucellosis. In every case, the response of the authorities is depressingly familiar - kill, kill, and kill.
The last twelve months have seen final reports issued by all the major inquiries into the FMD crisis of 2001. The response of the UK authorities has been denial and concealment of the facts; the taking of new and draconian powers to legalise in future those actions that were illegally carried out in 2001; and to produce new contingency plans that threaten more of the same mass slaughter policy, only worse, next time around. Vaccination remains firmly on the back-burner. Little, it seems, has been learned from the panic mismanagement that transformed an animal disease epidemic into the largest national peacetime disaster for a century.
Yet there is hope for the future. There is an increasing acknowledgement in high places that mass slaughter on such a vast scale will never be politically acceptable again, and recognition of the role that vaccination and diagnostics should play in future. But resisting the modernisers are the old guard - firmly entrenched, committed, unable or unwilling to change their own prejudice.
Overcoming this mindset is proving to be the hardest battle of all. It must be won if sensible treatment is to replace slaughter as the first and only reaction to every animal disease that happens along.
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A further taste of the newsletter is this very interesting exchange:
From: Graham Holland
Sent: 22 December 2002 16:30
I have read your article 'The Royal Society Inquiry - The Foot and Mouth Report - Part 2 with much interest.
Would you mind please informing me with regards to one particular comment made therein? The article reads "Indoor systems of livestock husbandry are increasingly favoured for biosecurity, and may even become compulsory as in some other countries." Is this remark yours or, if not, who's is it? By whom is indoor husbandry favoured and in which countries is it compulsory?
I intend to forward any information I can glean on this subject to my Member of Parliament along with other information relating my opinion of the increasing raft of regulatory measures which are being introduced to protect humans from disease infection through the food chain.
From: alan & rosie beat
Sent: Sunday, December 22, 2002 10:35 PM
Thanks for your message.
The remarks were made by Sir Brian Follett in the report that I was reviewing. He cites Sweden and Canada as countries in which outdoor systems of poultry production have already been banned (paragraph 2.27 on page 14 of the report). Such action is justified by claims (false in my view) that human health risk is correspondingly reduced in closed systems.
People like Sir John Krebs of the Food Standards Agency are now busy in the UK spreading the notion that outdoor, extensive organic poultry pose more "risk" to human health through their contact with wild birds carrying salmonella etc. Large agri-business companies are adept at using increasing regulation to force their smaller competitors out of business, as I have already described in a previous article in the magazine (Farm Licensing) and they will be actively promoting the same agenda.
You can access the full Royal Society report at www.royalsoc.ac.uk
I cover such issues in more depth than the magazine in our weekly e-mail newsletter, which you can register to receive at www.smallholders.org via the "Subscribe" link (it's free).
With best wishes
From: Graham Holland [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 22 December 2002 23:23
Thank you so very much for your kind reply. When we 1st moved our few Khaki Campbell ducks to Norfolk MAFF (as they were then) reminded us that we were putting ourselves at risk by keeping them in "worldwide aviary" insofar as they are kept out of doors. They reminded me that "most wild birds are infected with salmonella".
I cannot even begin to express the disgust and fear I feel of this utterly insane suggestion that animal husbandry is best carried out indoors. It resounds with God complexes, megalomania and a desire (albeit well-intentioned) to keep people from EVER dying. When will we all be living in bio-domes? Even George Orwell didn't include this in his famous book, "1984".
My partner and I would really rather like to have a few chickens/ducks, a sheep or 5, a milking cow and very few beef animals along with a couple of goats and bits and we'd like to grow our own food for them. Why would we like to do that? I honestly don't know. Should it be compulsory for me to justify it? It is now beyond my intellectual means to cope with the paperwork. Can that possibly be reasonable? Obviously not; but these 'people' seem to be able to justify it on grounds that are ill-conceived and, frankly, plain insane. It's like living in that famous fascist regime of the 40's.
I am close to the point when I almost have the matter clear enough in my mind to begin a campaign of letter-writing to challenge it; but I have no faith in the possibility that I may be heard. I have never been one to be paranoid, but I have to admit that I have got to the point when I'm trying to find a motive in all this. Could it be a simple matter of 'jobs for the ministry', or is it more sinister?
I have a stong desire to simpy ignore this 'bull....', but know that i could never win such a cause. On the other hand, the whole thing seems to have gone so far already that I will have died of old age before the case is won. Will I never be in a position to do that which I have had a lifelong desire to do? I just want to scream "XXXX!!!." to these people. What I am trying to say is that I'm frustrated and angry and unable to defend myself against an obvious injustice.
Wishing you well in your campaign
From: alan & rosie beat
Sent: 24 December 2002 18:14
It is for the reasons you express, and more besides, that an increasing number of people are speaking out against "the system". Perhaps together we can make our voice heard. If we don't at least try, then we cannot really complain.
Some have given up and "escaped" abroad to a smallholding in France, Spain or wherever they feel more freedom exists - but much of this regulatory burden emanates from the EU and will catch up with them, wherever they are.
I have reached the point of standing up to fight for what is important to me and my family.
You can still run a smallholding in Norfolk and there is no reason on earth why you should not do so. Ignore the DEFRA requirements and get started, before it really is too late. They rely on your consent and cooperation - without it, in reality they can do little to enforce their petty rules when faced with reasoned opposition.
And then Ron Skingley chipped in . . . . :
It all relies upon the British people's respect for the law and doing things 'right', and the bureaucrat's adherence to the letter of what is written in the regulations.
Without these two the system wouldn't work
We have reached a stage where, as Nanook of the North said, the book is mightier than the man.
So he who writes the book......
In many other European countries people don't take much notice of regulations.
In Germany, (I used to work for a German company) they make sure the paperwork is 'korrect' and largely ignore the reality.
In France they shrug their shoulders and open another bottle of wine.
In Spain they pull their hats over their eyes and have a longer siesta.
In Italy they wave their arms about and shout, and then do as their Mamas tell them.
In Greece they tick the boxes and file in the waste bin.
In Turkey they feed the paperwork to the goats.
Overall, in this country I believe the only way forward is to encourage as many people as possible to start smallholdings and keep animals.
They don't want us to have animals, so lets flood the place with chickens, ducks, sheep, cows, anything.
They take notice of small farmers in France because there are so many of them.
That's what we need here.
So get yourself a smallholding, even a rented field will do, and just get some animals.
And keep smiling.
All the very best,