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In memory of the
millions of animals destroyed by the ‘cure’ for Foot and Mouth Disease, 2001
Edited by Quita
FIELDS OF FIRE
A collection of prose and poems
compiled in memory of the millions
of animals killed during the
foot and mouth outbreak in 2001
Edited and published by Quita
First published 2002
Somerset BS25 1QE
Tel: 01934 844353
Printed by The Favil Press of Kensington
127 South Street
Sussex BN15 8AS
“Cry the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on the earth, the lovely land that man cannot enjoy; he knows only the fear of his heart”
- Alan Paton
THE VET’S OATH
“In as much as the privilege of membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is about to be conferred upon me I PROMISE AND SOLEMNLY DECLARE that I will abide in all due loyalty to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and will do all in my power to maintain and promote its interests.
“I PROMISE above all that I will pursue the work of my profession with uprightness of conduct and that my constant endeavour will be to ensure the welfare of all animals committed to my care”.
THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY
ON FMD IN 1968
This report agreed with the previous Gower Commission on FMD (’52-’54) that, “We sympathise with the widely expressed view that it (slaughter) is a crude and primitive way of dealing with the disease. We recognise the mental anguish it may cause to those who suffer …… the shattering disaster, not computable in terms of money, that it may bring to a farmer who has to see the work of a lifetime destroyed in a day”.
The report made various points which, unfortunately, have been mainly ignored in the current outbreak:
* it recommended tranquillising drugs ‘when the need arises’ before slaughter;
* it recommended that ‘burial of carcasses is preferable to burning’;
* it mentioned that ‘the consensus of opinion among our scientific witnesses was that the danger of carrier animals had been exaggerated and that carriers in a susceptible population did not constitute a significant risk’;
* it stressed, about the Danish ring vaccination at the time, that ‘the importance of the Danish experience is that no problem has arisen as a result of releasing cattle from within the vaccinated area and allowing them to mix with susceptible animals in other parts of Denmark’;
* it recommended ‘that contingency plans for the application of ring vaccination should be kept in constant readiness’ and estimated that ‘if ring vaccination had begun early, the number of outbreaks might have been reduced to about half’. The committee considered that ‘ring vaccination, if introduced, should be carried out as soon as an outbreak occurs’.
NEW LABOUR – NEW LIFE FOR ANIMALS
Before the 1997 election, the Labour Party published, ‘New Labour – new Life for Animals’. The opening paragraph stated, “Labour has consistently shown itself as the only party to trust on issues of animal welfare”.
This book is dedicated to the memory of the millions of animals that have suffered and died, not from foot and mouth disease, but from the cure, during the current foot and mouth epidemic, which started in February, 2001 – and to all the people who have also suffered and have, in some cases, tragically killed themselves. As I write this, the killing fields are still out there and animals are being slaughtered at the rate of 50,000 – 100,000 a week.
This book is a record of some of the letters, poems and other pieces of writing which have emerged over the last few months. These writings are amazing – powerful, heartrending and, often, quite beautiful outpourings of grief, anger and compassion, written from the heart by people whose lives have been touched, directly or indirectly, by foot and mouth disease and its ‘cure’. I believe that, in spite of the sadness and pain, these writings are strong and life affirming and are a tribute to the human spirit. I also believe that they are a savage indictment of government policy.
I belong to a foot and mouth discussion group on the Internet and the writings in this book are taken from some of our messages to each other over the months, or pieces from articles or newspapers or other web sites that we have posted up for the group to read. Contributors to our group include farmers, smallholders, vets, scientists, journalists, teachers, outdoor activity instructors, photographers, playworkers, pilots, toy makers, antique dealers, housewives, bookshop owners, publicans, artists, coach drivers, photographers, to name but a few – a very mixed bag! It has been a group with no leader and no name, with people deciding what they can do to help and others joining in when they can. Members, who come from USA, Canada, Holland, Germany and Australia, as well as the UK, are middle-aged, law-abiding, responsible members of society, most of whom have never protested before against anything in their lives, but who have been driven to speak out against this inhumane, bungling, savage slaughter of animals – this holocaust of 2001.
This group is a phenomenon of the Internet age – knowledge; scientific information; up-to-date reports about which part of the country the latest killing fields are in and a rallying call for help to anyone in that area; legal advice and help packs for farmers; a list of sympathetic solicitors; useful numbers and addresses of MAFF / DEFRA officials, media contacts, MPs, etc, to use in our endless campaigning; and Internet hugs for those who need them – all available at the touch of our fingertips! This has meant that people have ended up with answers to their questions and more knowledge (dare I suggest!) than most MAFF / DEFRA officials.
(MAFF, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, was incorporated into DEFRA, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, after the election in 2001, partly to distract people from the mistakes that MAFF had made).
It should be made clear that, from the start, it was an economic and political decision to cull all the animals, and not a scientific one. In an ideal world, foot and mouth disease would have been allowed to run through the herds and flocks to build up immunity, with relevant treatment and culling only in cases where animals were suffering badly. As a compromise, a combination of vaccinating and allowing the disease to maintain a presence could have been used – or else, perhaps the more popular choice, culling infected animals and ring vaccinating in each relevant area. If this had been done at the start, things would have been back to normal long ago and we would not now be seeing the destruction of farming families, empty fields, rural industries in ruins, pollution of our land through funeral pyres and burial pits – and the complete devastation of our beloved countryside.
Because of the ‘scorched earth’ policy that has been followed (or ‘carnage by computer’), so many animals have had to be killed in a hurry that dreadful mistakes have been made. Some vets and slaughtermen have worked humanely and compassionately (and farmers have spoken particularly highly of the hunt slaughtermen), but others have failed to kill animals properly and have caused immense suffering to both the creatures and to their owners. The fact that slaughtermen have been paid per animal killed has meant that they have worked at top speed (and often sloppily and carelessly), sometimes only stunning animals before loading them and moving them to pyres or burial pits, where they have been witnessed moving, or struggling to get up and walk away. Young cattle have been found crawling around the yard the morning after the cull.
Often, ewes and their new lambs have been separated, causing enormous distress to both, before being transported live to the killing fields. Some heavily pregnant ewes have gone into labour or given birth en route. At home, ewes have sometimes been killed but not pithed, so that their unborn lambs have been left to suffocate painfully inside their dead mothers. Live lambs have been killed by injections to the heart, by having their throats cut, or by having their heads smashed against walls.
Animals have been killed in front of each other, causing huge panic, and live animals have had to stand amongst piles of slaughtered ones (even, in their terror, trying to bury themselves under the dead bodies). Cows have been chased wildly, with teams of ‘cowboys’ on quad bikes taking potshots at them and even breaking their legs to stop them from running, causing dreadful, prolonged suffering to the creatures – and to the farmers looking on helplessly, but not allowed to intervene. Some terrified cows have had their calves slaughtered in front of them to bring them back – and other wounded cattle have escaped, sometimes being left at large for hours with painful wounds. In some cases, farmers have offered to pen their own animals but have been refused, only to then witness the chaotic and cruel chasing and slaughter that followed. In another case, the cattle were penned by the slaughtermen, who were witnessed painfully crushing them up against a wall with hurdles pushed by a JCB.
In some areas, teams of soldiers have had to follow the slaughtermen through, finishing off injured and dying creatures by any means at their disposal, which have included the use of shovels and iron bars – and even throwing them into the river. When I questioned MAFF/DEFRA officials as to who was responsible for the way that animals were slaughtered, I was told that it was the vet who was present at the particular farm, but we have heard since then that, at one time, vets were given responsibility for overseeing up to ten farms at a time (an impossibility) – or of cases where the vet was told by the team of slaughtermen to leave it to them!
In spite of witnesses to all the above events, not one prosecution has been made and the justification always seems to be that the vets and the slaughtermen were operating in difficult circumstances. Not good enough! It is certainly true that people were operating in difficult circumstances, but these circumstances were created by Government policy and by a complete lack of foresight. The team from Imperial College led Government policy and it was their faulty modelling that proposed the 3km contiguous cull (to learn more about this, see references at back of book). Any individual carrying out any of the above acts would find himself in court and I consider it outrageous that such cruelty and complete disregard for the welfare of animals was allowed to happen and that no one has been held accountable. Why were there no guidelines for the slaughter teams to follow, re proper penning, slaughtering techniques, the use of tranquillisers when necessary, and so on? (or, if there were, why were people who strayed from those not disciplined?). In my searching, I have found plenty of published guidelines, which would also have helped to prevent the time wasted on bungled culls.
Slaughter has been decided by clinical diagnosis (that is, examination of the animal by a vet) and not from blood testing, which has been done after culling and, as all sorts of vets have had to be brought in to reach the necessary numbers, small wonder that mistakes have been made. Young and inexperienced vets, vets from small animal practices, vets from abroad (who probably know nothing about, for example, hill sheep) – none of these had probably seen a real live case of FMD, but were told what the symptoms were, told it was out there and sent out to find it – and find it they did! What a pity that, in many cases, they found instead cases of orf, footrot, wooden tongue, omagod (ovine mouth & gum obscure disease), louping ill, even blisters caused by eating thistles or salt licks and, ignoring what the farmers told them, usually proceeded to have these animals slaughtered as foot and mouth cases. No wonder the overwhelming majority of blood tests came back negative! And yet, in spite of those negative results, movement restrictions still remained on these and surrounding farms, and intensive cleaning of the properties was still carried out.
Although enormous numbers of animals have been, and still are being, destroyed, the government is still pressing ahead with its culling policy. DEFRA statistics do not count the baby animals that have been killed, so the real figure of slaughtered animals is probably somewhere near 10 million at present count – and at a cost to the country of about £20 billion.
Movement restrictions have also caused massive animal welfare problems, with creatures living, giving birth, drowning and starving to death in mud. All this from the political party that says that it puts animal welfare first and is still intent on banning fox hunting! It is small wonder that some people think that our government is following its own hidden agenda.
Apart from animal welfare, another aspect of this whole sorry affair is the way that human rights have been completely disregarded. Farmers have been bullied and lied to by officials, to make them agree to give up their animals, and often police and army personnel have turned up in force as well. In a few cases, people have had their homes or outbuildings broken into – and, in many cases, both MAFF officials and vets have spoken to people in an extremely intimidating manner, which farmers have found particularly hard to bear (as some of the older ones have commented, they were brought up to have great respect for vets, and feel completely betrayed by the ones who now have badgered them in this way or lied to them).
It has also been horrifying to discover that (i) vets themselves were instructed to falsely sign ‘A’ notices, being told that if they didn’t the animals would be killed and the farmer would lose his compensation and (ii) until mid June, when it hit the media, farmers were being made to sign the Official Secrets Act!
I have always believed that we live in a fair and democratic system and I am frightened to see just how much power this government has and just how little regard for its people, when it actually comes to the crunch. I would like to plead with all of you who read this book to find out for yourself what is going on and to make your voices of protest clearly heard, to your MPs, the media, and so on. In the back of this book, there is a useful fact sheet about foot and mouth disease, and also a list of websites where you can find out masses of valuable information and contacts. If you don’t have a computer, most libraries provide access to the Internet.
If the culling is still going on when you read this, please join us in our cry for vaccination and, also, for a public inquiry.
If the killing has ended, please think about the future of farming in this country and perhaps join one of the groups that will be pressing for meat that is produced, slaughtered and sold locally, that is raised in a way that is animal welfare friendly, that is healthy and safe for humans, that doesn’t involve a live export trade, or importing cheap meat from countries where animal welfare is not a priority – and that helps to preserve the small farmer and our unique and beautiful British countryside.
Thank you so much for reading this – any money made through sales of this book will be going towards farmers’ legal costs, or to help those others who are on movement restrictions, with no income coming in and animals which desperately need feeding.
I will be happy to answer any queries, to put people in touch with relevant contacts, or to help anyone I can.
Please get involved!
I wrote the above at the end of the summer, 2001 and, since then, I have added a few more postings at the end of the book. I keep finding more and more that I would like to add, but I think it is important to stop now and to try to get the book published as soon as possible, before the public completely forget all about FMD!
FMD is now meant to have ended, although animals are still being slaughtered in different parts of the country, presumably after blood testing. The latest frightening thing that we are now challenging is the Animal Health (Amendment) Bill, which is being rushed through in unseemly haste, even before we hear the result of the three FMD inquiries. It is ‘an unjust bill, it’s a disproportionate bill, an unfair bill, a bill that confers more powers on people who themselves have been found wanting, guilty of incompetence, guilty of insensitivity and guilty of bungling’ (Peter Ainsworth M.P.). If you want to find out more about this bill, please contact me, or visit www.warmwell.com. People like me, who own and love sheep, are also terrified when we read about scrapie/BSE/vCJD and the propaganda that is surrounding this totally unproven subject – link this in with the Animal Health Bill and faulty science (such as we have seen with FMD) and you will understand why we are so worried!
I couldn’t find a publisher for this book (hence the delay), so have had to pay to have the book printed myself. Thank you so much to the kind and generous people who believed in me and in the project enough to lend me money towards this – I WILL repay you!!!
A final comment – I was delighted to read an article from the Sunday Post yesterday (20 January), which confirmed what we have been saying in our group (and to anyone else who would listen!) all along. The government has consistently manipulated and lied about the FMD slaughter figures, particularly around election time but, at last, DEFRA has admitted that the real figures are far more than most people have realised. We will probably never know exactly how many animals were killed, but the following article will give you some idea:
SLAUGHTER TOLL THREE TIMES OFFICIAL FIGURES
by Craig Robertson
BRITAIN is now free of foot and mouth, but the cost in terms of livestock is far greater than the Government has previously admitted. Our investigation has revealed the number of animals slaughtered was nearly three times the figure released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The Department has now admitted they neglected to count MILLIONS of sheep and cattle.
DEFRA say four million animals were culled. However, the Meat and Livestock Commission has confirmed that nearly 11 million animals were slaughtered in the cull. The Government's official figure records sheep and cattle killed on the 2030 farms which were struck by foot and mouth plus the 5000 neighbouring farms cleansed in precautionary culls. However the number does not include beasts killed through the welfare disposal scheme, the light lamb disposal plan or, crucially, those lambs and calves killed with their mothers.
Jane Connor, chief economist of the Meat and Livestock Commission, says that a conservative estimate of 1.2 offspring per breeding sheep culled would mean four million lambs were killed but not accounted for. Lambs "at foot" of sheep marked for slaughter were also killed but the official tally would only record one animal. The same procedure operated for culled cattle. Similarly, there were 595,000 cattle culled but the official figures don't include the 100,000 calves killed with them or the 50,000 calves close to birth.
The Welfare Disposal Scheme, set up to cull animals that could not be moved because of restrictions, accounted for another 1.6 million sheep and lambs, 169,000 cattle and 288,000 pigs. Another half million light lambs were culled because there was no longer a market for them. None of these is included in the Government's total.
Jane Connor says, "We will never know exactly how many were culled but it was many more than the official figure."
A spokesman for DEFRA initially insisted the number of sheep and livestock culled included offspring killed with them However, after being told that MLC said otherwise, they checked their figures. The press officer returned to admit, "I stand corrected on that one. It seems it is standard practice to count ewes and offspring as one animal. Your information is correct."
The final toll was at least 10,849,000 animals killed.
(21 January, 2002)
MY MOST GRATEFUL THANKS TO:
? every person whose writings are in this book. I have tried to ask everyone’s permission to use their work but, for those I haven’t managed to contact, please forgive me. There were a few people whose names I didn’t know, and a few more who asked me not to use theirs, so I decided not to use anyone’s names from Internet postings, except when from published articles or press releases.
? Caroline Shipsey, Chris Chapman, Alex Moore and Lynda Smith for their photographs;
? Cumbria Life magazine and Jonathan Becker, Loftus Brown and John Giles for allowing me to use their photographs;
? Eastern Counties Newspapers for the photo of the mud-covered lamb;
? Julia Melia, a very special person, who has given up all her spare time to type most of this out for me. Cheers, Julia!
? And thank you to Janet Hughes, for courageously risking all to save so many Welsh mountain sheep
Also, thank you, thank you to all of you who have become such a big part of my life over the last months – Mary, Joyce, Dot, Bryn, Ron, Caroline, June, Denise, Patsi, Coleen, Ley, Burkie, Janet, Elaine, Diana, Flis, Jenni, Tricia, Patricia, Lina, Tony, Mike, Melanie, Lynda, Lynne, Val S, Val L, Andy, David, Nick, Alan, Rosie, Hilary, Jane, Roger, Richard, Julian, Margaret, Sue, Susan, Sheri, Andrew, Ann, Val C, Jill, Christine, Greg, and all the rest!
Finally, thank you to all my dear family, near and far, who have had their ears bent by me endlessly about foot and mouth disease – and who will always, I believe, have the courage to stand up for what they believe in!
“That he, which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart, his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put in this purse:
We would not die in that man’s company,
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now abed,
Shall think themselves accursed, they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day”
(“Henry V”, courtesy of Bryn)
(Dividers on the page show postings by different people on the same date.)
11 March, 2001
I heard this evening that we now have our first confirmed case in the Forest of Dean. It is about a mile or so away, right on the A48, which is a very busy main road. I wonder what is going to happen about the sheep? At present they are still wandering the Forest, including roads and villages, at will. Lambing is in full swing amongst them, too.
12 March, 2001
Dear friends of truth:
What is happening to our livestock should break our hearts, should cause us to weep some at least, knowing the tears to be the rain of the soul. I know that what you are about to read is right. When I had my home in Swaziland in the late 60s, there was a severe outbreak of foot and mouth disease. No cattle died, nobody died. It was like an outbreak of influenza amongst humans; except that extra quarantine precautions had to be taken for it not to spread across the borders into South Africa and Mozambique. Dear friends, our animals are us down to the bone marrow. Only the spirit that is asking us to see what we are doing to them gives us our special place in creation!
13 March, 2001
This is so quite dreadful, I can hardly bear it. It does not seriously affect me personally as I have no animals susceptible to this disease, but only two minutes down the road they are tonight burning the animals which were slaughtered yesterday. The fire is at least 200 yards in length and lighting up the sky for miles around. A nightmare scenario.
The “Forest” sheep have gone from our village. I don’t know if they have been rounded up or slaughtered. It seems so very strange and deserted without them. They are still running free in Yorkley and most other villages round and about. John went to Coleford this afternoon and he noticed no marked decrease in the number of sheep wondering free, except actually in our village.
I can’t help worrying about the deer. What will become of these shy and lovely animals? Once the free roaming sheep get the disease, will there be any hope at all for the deer.
14 March, 2001
I have always been glad to live in the country, until now. The way things are at present I almost wish I lived in a city away from all this horror. The village seems so quiet this morning. Not a sheep or lamb in sight (or sound).
21 March, 2001
Sorry, list, to keep on about this very nasty subject but I wondered if anyone else noticed the anomalies in a statement on TV by a MAFF spokesman. He said, categorically, that the virus could only survive for 30 minutes once an animal has been slaughtered, then in the very next sentence he said that it had almost certainly been caused by feeding pigs on swill containing contaminated meat. If both his statements were accurate, then the contaminated meat in the pigswill must have come from an animal which was alive less than 30 minutes prior to being fed to the pigs. I DON’T THINK SO! Since at least one of the above statements is patently not true, how many other lies are being given to us?
From what I have read on the various relevant sites I have visited, by vaccinating livestock we would lose our “disease free” status --------- and consequently our exports to Japan and USA. Since we do not export vast quantities of meat to either of these countries, would it be such an economic disaster to lose these markets? (We have probably lost them anyway, for the foreseeable future, as what country will trust our meat after this?)
Can someone explain to me why we export our meat at all? The supermarkets are full of imported meat all the time. It often requires a search to find British produced meat. (I am talking about generally, not just during this crisis). Why don’t we keep our meat for home consumption and stop importing foreign meat? OK so I am na?ve in the ways of international commerce, but the whole thing seems crazy to me.
I rather think that some of these politicians might think differently about this draconian “kill and burn” policy if they had to cope with the stench of burning animals every time they opened their back door. They should have been living here for the past week. It is so depressing, and I am only on the periphery, so to speak. If I was directly involved, I am sure I would be suicidal by now.
22 March, 2001
According to a news item I saw on TV they are transporting some of these animals from Scotland to North Wales to be slaughtered, passing at least a dozen abattoirs on the way. This cannot be in the interests of the poor creatures. Hours in a cattle truck just to be slaughtered at the end of it. (But isn’t this the usual fate of meat animals in these “enlightened” times? Is this perhaps one of the reasons for the rapid spread of this disease?) Modern farming practices have a lot to answer for, in my humble opinion.
23 March, 2001
Whilst I feel great sympathy for the decent livestock owners whose livelihoods are under threat because of this outbreak, not all those affected are even deserving of our sympathy Most of the cases in this area are directly linked to one person who is a livestock dealer, not a farmer. He buys animals at any market where he can get them at knock down prices, only to sell them on again at another market as soon as the price goes up to make the trip worthwhile.
If they have to stay on his holding for any length of time, they are usually crammed into fields with hardly a blade of grass in them, which rapidly become like quagmires if the weather is poor. He has had thousands of sheep slaughtered (on several different sites) but, although I have every sympathy with the animals, I can’t find it in my heart to feel sorry for this person. I do feel sorry for his neighbour who has lost a herd of well cared for pedigree dairy cattle ---- just because his farm happened to adjoin that of this dealer.
Damien Hurst has nothing on me!
I create ghostly pictures of death, officially sanctioned.
I have to believe this mass sacrifice of animals I love is worth it.
Or is it the farmers who are the real sacrifice?
Like the animals, they take it meekly and obediently often thanking me for doing it.
After I killed all 356 cattle in one family’s dairy herd they sent flowers to my wife.
These are the people who are giving up all, in the hope it will save others.
But don’t get me wrong!
I have now seen plenty of this plague and it is no common cold.
The animals suffer horribly, as the skin of their tongues peel off and the feet fall apart.
We must try to kill them quick and clean, as soon as it appears in a herd or flock.
The farmers’ suffering does not end with the visit of the slaughter men.
I must continue to do my duty in these Cumbrian killing fields, quickly, efficiently & effectively.
Yes, the official papers must all be in place.
Yes, the Health and Safety man must be happy.
Yes, the Environment Agency is only doing their job as best they can.
It is 6am. Today I go out to kill again.
The worst is the young stock.
I thank God the lambs are not yet born with these ewes.
Today I will have to kill a calf born yesterday, the first beautiful calf from the farmers’ pride and joy – his new Charolais bull.
This is not what I trained for.
I hope familiarity will never make me immune from the trauma of killing.
But I do hope – for the animal’s sake – to be good at it.
It is the virus we are trying to kill!
With our disinfectants and culling policy, our imprisonment of farmers in their own homes.
All they have left is the telephone.
Perhaps today there is hope.
One soldier will meet me at the farm gate.
I hope he, not me, will quickly arrange the funeral of the animals I love.
Before their carcasses get so bloated they fall apart.
Adding more to the farmers’ anguish, trapped amongst them.
I should be free to move on quickly, find the virus and kill again.
Into the valley of Death drove the 600.
Or are we now 1100?
The countryside I love is bleeding to death.
Mr Blair, please help.
Written by a Temporary Veterinary Inspector (TVI) working with MAFF
26 March, 2001
At the present the clouds are dark all around us and the future is a nagging ache. Keep your spirits up with all the native grit inherited from our tough ancestry. Show the world that we are true grit.
Ahead the clouds are lined with silver and shot through with gold. It is not the end for our dear land. We will be shown another way, a better way. It is not the end for us but a new beginning. Already the plans and help await.
Keep quiet faith and remember these words.
We live in an area where we are now virtually surrounded by foot and mouth. Not miles away, but huge funeral pyres less than a mile away. Many of the carcasses being burned today were actually slaughtered two weeks ago and were so rotten they were falling apart as they were being shifted. The burning is going on right in the village. I cannot imagine what it must be like for the poor people living there. Four huge bonfires in a well populated village. I don’t know whether to cry or scream. I feel like doing both. Is there nothing we can do to stop this lunacy?
27 March, 2001
My heart bleeds for you. I have no susceptible livestock myself but I live in a rural community in the Forest of Dean and so many of my friends and neighbours are in the same situation as you. Their animals don’t have the disease, but they know that it is only a matter of time before they have to lose them anyway, because of where they live.
These are “little people” for the most part. Tom, a pensioner, who keeps a small flock of 10 black ewes, who all have lambs at present. Viv, who gave up keeping cattle after the BSE crisis and turned her farm into livery stables and grazing, but kept some of her old cows because she was very attached to them. Then there is Enid, with her small herd of pedigree show goats.
Our garden backs onto farmland, owned by Robert, a small single-handed “proper” farmer who really cares for his animals. As soon as the first Foot and Mouth cases were announced, Robert moved all his animals into fields in the very centre of his holding, adjacent to his barns, feed stores and lambing sheds (with no road access). His animals have remained disease free, but he is destined to lose them anyway, because some of his fields adjoin those of an infected holding. It would seem that no account will be taken of the fact that these fields are used for crop production only, and Robert’s livestock have never had access to them.
MAFF has been handling this crisis about as “well” here as they have in Devon. Yesterday they began burning animals that were slaughtered two weeks ago. The carcasses were literally falling apart as they were lifting them with the JCBs and the stench in the village is unbelievable.
The ministry is saying that the cases directly across the river from Blakeney were caused by “airborne” infection. Might it not have more to do with the fact that for weeks the crows, seagulls and other birds have been scavenging on the carcasses left rotting in the fields, and it is less than a mile across the river? These birds commute back and forth across the river all the time.
Other countries choose to ignore EU directives when they believe that these conflict with their own interests. Why did we not do likewise? The whole idea of disease free status has to be a joke now, when it looks as if half our country’s livestock is to be wiped out, and we are once again the pariahs of Europe (if not the whole of the developed world).
It rather looks as if the disease will run its course and will be with us until the weather conditions are no longer conducive to the spread of the virus. Then the government will take credit for having “brought it under control”.
Heard Ben Gill, NFU President, saying the following on BBC Business Breakfast today:
* “There’s a kind of feeling that vaccination’s a soft option, you just go and you do a few injections, you’ve cracked it, you’ve no more problems – that’s not the reality”;
* “First of all you need multiple injections, you have a primary injection, a booster after one month and then every six months”;
* “At the moment I do not see the case for vaccination as a solution to this problem. We need to rid ourselves of this disease, not push it back into the wilds of the countryside where it will harbour in wild animals and be a continual irritant and depressant to our farm population”.
What a pity that Mr. Gill doesn’t educate himself a little better!
28 March, 2001
On a nearby farm, pregnant ewes were “slaughtered” and left in the field awaiting disposal. When the carcasses were eventually attended to, it was found that a number of these supposedly “dead” ewes had given birth. I cannot think of any comment I can possibly add to this.
Ever since they started the burning, I have purposely avoided going to Blakeney or the A48. Today I had to go to the dentist and could not realistically avoid the area. I was appalled by what I saw. As you drop down over the hill, the village is spread out below and in one field are 4 of the most enormous “barrows” each about 100 yards long. (I don’t know what else to call them). Three are burning, the fourth has yet to be lit.
They are situated right behind a little cluster of cottages ---- all occupied ---- and one of the village’s pubs. They are practically adjacent to the back gardens of these cottages, there is a pall of foul smelling smoke hanging all over the village. I can’t believe they could have elected to burn huge numbers of dead animals so close to people’s homes. Living there must be an absolute nightmare.
But the whole ghastly business has reached nightmare proportions now, and the Government are still saying that they will not be adopting general vaccination policies, just selected vaccination in some areas, followed by the slaughter of the vaccinated animals. (Or have I misunderstood this news bulletin)? I have just heard, also, that vaccination will only be considered for cattle, not for sheep.
29 March, 2001
Today is a very sad day in the Forest of Dean. For those of you who don’t know this area, the Forest is populated by free roaming sheep. They are not wild. They all have owners, known locally as “sheep badgers”. As in all other walks of life some of these owners are good, some not so good. But the sheep are very much a part of the scenery around here and really help to make it what it is.
At the onset of the foot and mouth crisis the good owners rounded their sheep up and kept them safe. The not so good let them continue to roam. Now it has been announced that all the forest sheep are to be slaughtered. Not just those which are still roaming, but all of them. They are not infected; the cull, involving approximately 3000 sheep, is purely precautionary.
Since the sheep and the deer roam the same areas, we are now expecting to hear any day that the deer are also to be culled. (For “culled”, read “killed”). That will not be so easy, of course, as these are genuinely wild animals, very shy and secretive. (The sheep will follow anyone carrying a bag that might contain tasty morsels). I can’t bear to look at the lambs playing on the green knowing what fate MAFF has mapped out for them in the next few days. Some of them have only been born a few days ago. And still the Government persists with this barbarous “kill and burn” policy when it should be clear even to the most obtuse, that this policy is not working.
30 March, 2001
The countryside is still open for business. (It must be, Tony Blair said so). If you are planning a weekend in the country, why not visit the beautiful Royal Forest of Dean? You won’t be able to walk in the woods, or avail yourself of the many picnic areas, bridle paths and footpaths. You can’t stroll by Forest streams and enjoy the sight and smell of the bluebells. These attractions are currently closed because of the Foot and Mouth Crisis. But there is still plenty for you to do:
? Come and watch the forest sheep being rounded up prior to being killed
? Take an educational tour of the funeral pyres which are now a feature of this area
? Visit the piles of carcasses still waiting to be put on these pyres
? Visit the village of Blakeney, breath deeply and revitalise your lungs with a dose of the acrid smoke the locals have so far had all to themselves
Oh, yes, we are still open for business, so don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to get away from it all. Visit the Royal Forest of Dean this weekend.
(Sorry if I sound bitter, it is just because I am).
My neighbour is an elderly widower who lives alone and has no family. He doesn’t relate well to people, preferring to “keep himself to himself” and has few, if any, friends (of the human kind, that is). His friends are the sheep. He doesn’t own any, but he has befriended all the ones that wander about the village. He feeds them and talks to them and fusses with them. They all tend to hang about his gate. He only has to go outside for them to all come running. I can’t imagine what his life will be like now that he will lose his only friends in the world.
From the far end of our village we have a good view out over the Severn to Berkeley, where they are tonight burning the healthy cattle, which were killed rather than allow them to be vaccinated. The irony of the situation is that Berkeley is the home of Edward Jenner, who was the pioneer of vaccination and developed the first vaccine against smallpox, as well as others. And what did he use to develop his vaccines? Why, CATTLE, of course.
1 April, 2001
It’s a beautiful day. The sun is out and the cattle are grazing on the green fields. Through the day they make their way to the barn for milking. The newborn lambs frolic in the sunshine, skipping and bucking, full of joy to be alive, until they go too far and their mothers call them back. The pigs are wandering carefree. It’s much nicer for them roaming free than contained in small spaces. Little piglets squeal and run around full of mischief. They are lucky. Spring has sprung.
The sun is out but there’s smog today in the countryside, and a smell. It comes from the big fires. The cattle are in the fields ……… burning, and the sheep and pigs. Those yet to burn are lying in the barns rotting. No milking today. There are no newborn lambs frolicking or mischievous piglets having fun. Were they ever born? Did they have a day in the sun? Fate had something else in store. Foot and Mouth has sprung!
2 April, 2001
Living in an infected area does influence ones outlook on the F&M crisis. Yesterday I had to go to London. To my great surprise, once we left our own locality, for the rest of the journey there was virtually no evidence of the crisis at all.
Once we had left our area’s deserted fields everything looked perfectly normal; sheep and cattle grazing in the pastures, no dead animals, no funeral pyres. Just normal English countryside.
It made me realise that we cannot honestly expect people from these unaffected areas to appreciate the horror of the situation for those of us unfortunate to be living in the midst of it. I hope and pray that those areas which are free remain so.
One of my customers is a “sheep badger”. (That is someone who exercises his commoner’s right to graze his sheep in the Forest). He doesn’t run many sheep. Compared to some of the other “badgers” his is a very small flock, but he cares for them diligently. His were rounded up at the very start of this crisis and have not roamed free since. When it was agreed that the Forest sheep were to be slaughtered, he refused to hand his over. (They had already been inspected by a ministry vet and passed as healthy).
He is an elderly man, but prepared to stand up to MAFF and has told them that if they want his sheep they will have to get a court order, and that he will fight them every inch of the way. And these are not even valuable pedigree animals. Just crossbred “street sheep”. He says that if they were infected, he would let them be slaughtered, but as long as they are healthy, no way will he let them go. I am keeping my fingers crossed for him.
3 April, 2001
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF CUMBRIA
From Annie Mawson, Cumbria Woman of the Year 2000:
I write at the request of many dear friends throughout Cumbria and, especially the Valley of Eden, who have helped my charity, Sunbeams Music Trust over the last 8 years, never failing and always supportive to my people with Special Needs. And now they have very special needs of their own, and they need OUR help and support as, one by one, the small rural hamlets of North Cumbria are wiped out.
I write this as a Cumbrian Farmer’s daughter, with an aching heart for all my farming friends, and for my cousins and my own dear brother and old friends in West Cumberland, who are living with the Sword of Damocles as the FAM insidiously gets nearer to their farms. And I write this, as a resident of Tirril, who has lived behind closed curtains which mask the biggest individual fire in the country, still burning after 27 days. Nobody could have prepared us for the smell, for the stench of death invading every room, through the ancient cracks, under the doors, down the chimneys, as we checked the wind direction, hoping for a reprieve, albeit for a few hours.
But our discomfort was nothing compared to the inexorable heartache behind the lists of affected farms read out by Radio Cumbria. But herein lies my incredulity, as I naively presumed everything really was under control (long before Nick Brown uttered those immortal words which will no doubt come to haunt him). It did strike us in Tirril that the animals awaited slaughter a long time, that the fire took a long time to prepare – 8 days - that the carcasses lay a very long time – and, we never dreamt then that the fire would burn for 27 days.
We all thought this would be an exceptional case. But no, horrifyingly, this first outbreak has been the rule rather than the exception. We didn’t dare ask, what’s to stop this tragedy happening again? One presumes that “they” are, really are, investigating the causes, so that this disaster will never happen again. It seemed obvious to us in Tirril that infected pigswill and imported meat from countries where FAM is endemic, were to blame.
By now, there is well-documented evidence of the slowness in reaction by the government, and their failure to bring the spread of the disease under control. BUT – my point is that we in Tirril were talking of these factors FOUR WHOLE WEEKS AGO. I was na?ve to believe that the Government would have the answers. But the Government strategy seems to have been in disarray since the discovery of the epidemic, impeded by bureaucratic centralism and a reluctance to use all available help from the onset. It is heartbreaking that the discussions about the disease which now prevail in the media were the ordinary topics of conversation in our little village where the greatest number of animals were cremated in the whole country.
Now, in the fifth week, they are chasing the disease, instead of containing it.
Where is evidence that “they” have learnt from the 1967 outbreak and the resultant Northumberland Report? Why was the initial reaction from the Essex outbreak so complacent? Why was movement of livestock not prohibited immediately? Why didn’t the Government take the situation sufficiently serious at the beginning? (Indeed, during the second week, the Cumbrian situation scarcely made national headlines on television). Why is it a case of always seeming to be “locking the door after the horse has bolted?” Why do “they” seem to be always caught on the hop? Why is there no proper Government strategy? Why do the different helplines give differing information? Why are we still crying out for a reduction of time between detection, slaughter and burning/rendering?
The television reports speak daily of the shortage of vets, slaughtermen, valuers – I believe there is a shortage of veterinary surgeons trained in the country, due to a reduction in successive Government funding for veterinary education (Liverpool University).
Why? Why, in our naivety have we considered strategies four weeks ago, which are only now being implemented? We presumed that it was so obvious that the army had to be utilised, and waited to see them in Tirril …… and waited …… and waited.
QUESTIONS BEGGING TO BE ANSWERED
? VACCINATION: Confusion over its use helps to feed our feelings of frustration and despair; misunderstanding over its efficacy or does it “mask” the disease, and thus make diagnosis difficult?
Who do we believe? As I write, we await the decision, but every 24 hours condemns another 20+ farms, plus the ones in the 3km zone. And what gives us the faith that the practice of vaccination will be carried out efficiently and to the farms in crisis, when some farms within the 3km zone still haven’t received any confirmation from MAFF anyway that they are in a restricted area? And when my friends in Stockbridge were told that their sheep will be slaughtered ‘tomorrow’ when in fact they were cremated 3 weeks ago? Why should we have faith in MAFF any more when the goalposts keep changing?
? Emotions run high at rumours of sheepdogs killed; and was it rats in their thousands that are spreading the disease? Who do we believe? There is mud running alongside my house for 20 feet and within six inches of my steps, from the wagon wheels carrying diseased animals to be rendered. Is it infectious? Yes, says Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore; No, say MAFF.
? DISINFECTED MATS: In Tirril, from March 1st onwards, we awaited their appearance on the roads …… and we waited …… and waited. On ringing the Cumbria County Council Helpline, I was told that “it is not policy to place disinfected mats in areas already affected”. WHYEVER NOT? I would have thought those were the very areas where they might have prevented the spreading of disease, however minimal the help. Only now, thanks to Margaret Lee of Tirril has a mat been put down.
? CLOSURE OF ROAD: The side roads in Tirril could easily have been closed with only a very small inconvenience to several houses. But no, this also needed Government legislation. WHY? Could emergency legislation not have been brought in? Compare the efficiency of France. ANOTHER POINT DISMISSED BY THE CCC HELPLINE – ONLY ADDS TO OUR SENSE OF IMPOTENCE AND POWERLESSNESS.
? FUNERAL PYRES: Do the fumes from the pyres carry the infection? Do small amounts of virus particles escape? Is there a risk? And if there is even a very minimal risk, then surely it is a risk too great. And if the Northumberland Report concluded that burial rather than burning of animals should be carried out, why wasn’t this adhered to? Is there identifiable danger from burning carcasses? Does anyone REALLY know?
Why do we instinctively check the prevailing winds when we get up, and hope that for one day we may be released from the gloom and the stench of death and decay …… was this what it was like in the middle ages with the relentless onslaught of the plague? …… this living on a knife edge, living to the relentless sound of the JCBs. And did the ghouls really have to bring their picnics and watch the fire be constructed and then lit? And why did people still walk their dogs within ten yards of the infected farm?
? More sinister – why was the timber availability checked BEFORE the outbreak was first announced? - as confirmed by Baroness Hayman on BBC’s Question Time, as being part of an ongoing EEC directive – and yet the first time in 34 years by the timber merchant when asked.
Why don’t the Government have the answers? Why don’t they have effective contingency plans? What use are the spin-doctors now? Do they understand the countryside? Do our urban neighbours care? But then, as Tony Blair is continually telling us “let’s get this into perspective – we are only talking of less than 1% of the country’s livestock”.
How many of our heartbroken farmers are dismissed so arrogantly in that one sentence? Don’t they care that the whole traditional way of life on the fellsides is under threat? We naively forecast three weeks ago, the effects of FAM on the heafed sheep; the lack of a clear policy for saving pedigree, rare breeds, and important breeds for the national flock; the disastrous effect on the whole rural infrastructure and tourist industry. Do these issues not bother them? My admiration and respect for a farmer’s wife normally so quietly spoken, who defied bureaucracy, and wouldn’t be fobbed off until she had told Nick Brown’s secretary that “he has written off the Lake District”.
Many farming friends have given up ringing MAFF. Total despair at their incompetence at coping with the inexorable spread of the disease, and at the lack of information. I have heard some wonderful reports of individual officials, but equally, there has been confusion and despair and distress by the MAFF paralysis in general. Farming friends ring at their wits end, no idea whether their animals are to be killed or spared; where the 3km boundary runs from – the farmstead or the nearest field to the outbreak? The arrogant assumption that all farmers have computers, let alone access to websites. Never will I forget that fateful afternoon when my brother phoned me and told me of the 3km cull, and the awful repercussions that entailed for so many of our friends. Kitchen tables were taken over by OS maps and compasses as we all tried to work out the boundaries and which farms would now be condemned by each new outbreak.
Thank goodness for Jon Snow of Channel 4 who seems determined to keep us on the National screens. And thank goodness for the outstanding service provided by Radio Cumbria and for the compassion yet pragmatism of ALL the presenters. And not forgetting Fiona Armstrong’s tenacity and persistence in her interview with Nick-don’t-shout-at-me-Brown, when he did his U turn on the culled animals. (I wonder how many farmers collapsed with shock in those three awful hours).
As I write, my phone has been ringing from friends in Lazonby, Great Salkeld, Little Salkeld, who talk of their pain and distress for the children, in particular, who still look out onto hundreds of animals lying in the gutters, in the farmyards, in the fields – some after EIGHT DAYS, despite Tony Blair’s assurances.
Messages come from friends who are quiet gentle people, full of kindness and concern for their well-loved animals, and who are now taking on the Ministry, even Nick Brown’s office and their MPs to tell them what it is really like, living on this knife edge, watching the goalposts change with stunned powerlessness; watching the relentless ravaging of the disease across our beautiful Valley of Eden, whilst the Government has dithered for four weeks, watching their beloved flocks putrefy as they themselves douse their dead animals in daily disinfectant, whilst a MAFF person stands guard at their yard.
“BUT THE FARMERS AREN’T IN QUARANTINE” says Margaret Beckett, Leader of the House of Commons. Has she not heard of all the split families up here in the Eden Valley, in North Cumbria? Of those children not living at home, so that they can still study for their A levels, and not allowed back on the farms, in case they spread infection?
One friend wrote, “A cruelty of this disease is that we cannot go and put our arms around those who are so heartbroken”. Is it true that human contact can spread disease for up to 5 days? How long have I to wait until I resume my workshops with my Sunbeams people, making sure none of them live on farms. When can I see my own family, and know that it will be safe to go over to my brother’s farm in Copeland? MAFF tell me I must wait 5 days after the last outbreak. I am prepared to do this, but is this a figure plucked from a report? Why are we becoming so cynical?
Another phone call from a dear farming friend in Great Orton, hanging in there, despairing like me, that the lambs were separated from their mothers on their last journey to their mass grave. Why? What sort of a decision was that, and for what reason? I can’t believe this is real. At least she said the Major himself is ringing her about her concerns over the incessant transport through the village and her fears of the disease spreading.
Every farming household has a story to tell. Many of them are distressing beyond words. But out of all this farming holocaust in our beleaguered county, there has to be a ‘reckoning-up’ time; there has to be something positive. The Government has got to address the reasons why this tragedy happened. We have got to bombard MAFF, the NFU, the CCC, the MPs with our opinions, and we have got to believe that this time they will be listened to. The issues which I believe need addressing are now part of normal telephone conversation:
? the 412% mark up by the Big 4 supermarkets,
? the differentiation between farmers and dealers,
? the need to think small and local,
? the return of the local abattoir and local meat outlets so that Cumbrians can have the assurity of eating Cumbrian meat,
? why is the illegal meat trade so difficult to police? Why is it such a low priority when the effects are so devastating?
? and uppermost, that the sources of infection of FAM should be eradicated from our country, so that this tragedy will never be repeated.
I haven’t the scientific expertise to discuss this disease with authority, but my telephone has been red-hot for the last four weeks, and what I DO know is, that it is the women of the communities who will get their men-folk through this tragedy. Several vicar friends have all spoken of their farmers being crushed, disempowered and heartbroken, and it is their women who will give them back their dignity, and self-worth and confidence. It is our lovely fellside women who will be strong, and farming folk reading this will understand what I am saying and know that it is nothing to do with feminism.
I have great faith in the human spirit, and know that it abounds in our beautiful County. I have sung in almost every village hall / church / W.I. now affected by the tragedy. I have met hundreds of the lovely folk who are now suffering, and as a farmer’s daughter, with a dear farming brother and cousins in West Cumberland, my heart goes out to them all. I have written to many, and know that underneath the stoicism and bravery there are some very despairing and frightened farmers. One friend summed it up, saying, “it is like living on a time-bomb, as this awful infection creeps nearer”.
I would like to share this message, which someone sent me at the beginning of this nightmare. I hope it will give heart to those who are feeling they can hardly cope.
“We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed”.
2 Corinthians 4 v.8.
In my recitals, my favourite song is “Ca’ the Ewes”. It will never be more poignant, as we look out on our bare fields and fells. God alone knows when I will have the strength to sing it again. I have always compared the Herdwick sheep to men like my dear Dad, who once farmed the Wasdale fells. Just like them he was wise and hardy, strong and sensitive, gruff and gentle and, for the first time in 10 years, I am glad he is not alive to witness this hell on earth.
4 April, 2001
What we can learn from India:
UNHOLY MESS, by Vandana Shiva
(The Guardian, 4 April, 2001)
In Britain, we see the army mobilised to kill a million or more farm animals and bury them in mass graves merely because of a suspicion that they might be carrying a disease that is neither fatal to humans nor animals. In India, the cow is held sacred, and from my philosophical and religious perspective, parallels can be drawn with ethnic cleansing in Serbia and the blowing up of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban in Afghanistan. This war against farm animals reflects the insanity of those who promote globalised, industrialised food systems which create, promote and spread disease, but who simultaneously want a "disease free national herd".
This zero tolerance for disease has led to a zero tolerance for animals. Farm animals and farmers have been made the "endemic" enemy. The countryside has been turned into a war zone. Just as the silent Buddhas had to be demolished for a false sense of security and pride by the Taliban, so our hoofed neighbours are being slaughtered and burnt for a false sense of security and safety by the British government. Animals are killed on the basis of unjustified exaggeration of the impact of foot and mouth disease, which has been called a "fearful plague", "a demon", "a serial killer" and a predator at large.
But, as we know, FMD is actually quite harmless, though highly contagious. It does not harm humans, and it only rarely kills animals. The virus takes a toll on productivity, but not generally of life. The disease lowers milk production and reduces the working ability of animals. In a month they recover. Animals can, however, die of other diseases like haemorrhagic septicaemia when their immunity has been lowered by FMD. In India, 400 animals have died in the past couple of months not of FMD but haemorrhagic septicaemia, which infects the throat and blocks the respiratory tract.
FMD is endemic to India, and used to be in Europe. It has been traditionally treated through indigenous veterinary medicine. Vaccines are also available and have been used. Nowhere in the world have entire herds been exterminated.
In India, we hold cattle sacred, because without them we could not renew our soil fertility.
Ecologically, the cow has been central to Indian civilisation. Both materially and conceptually, Indian agriculture has built its sustainability on maintaining the integrity of the cow, considering her inviolable and sacred, seeing her as the mother of the prosperity of food systems.
The integration of livestock with farming has been the secret of sustainable agriculture. Livestock perform a critical function in the food chain by converting organic matter into a form that can be easily used by plants. Can you imagine a British agricultural minister saying, as KM Munshi, India's first agriculture minister after independence, did: "The mother cow and the Nandi are not worshipped in vain. They are the primeval agents who enrich the soil - nature's great land transformers - who supply organic matter which, after treatment, becomes nutrient matter of the greatest importance. In India, tradition, religious sentiment and economic needs have tried to maintain a cattle population large enough to maintain the cycle, only if we know it."
The sanctity of the cow as a source of prosperity in agriculture was linked to the need for conserving its integration with crop production. By using crop wastes and uncultivated land, indigenous cattle do not compete with man for food; rather, they provide organic fertiliser for fields and thus enhance food productivity. Within the sacredness of the cow therefore, lies this ecological rationale and conservation imperative.
There are three aspects to the reaction of the FMD epidemic that make me terribly uneasy.
First, while it is clear that globalisation of trade and increased movement of animals has spread the disease, the UK government continues to support increased liberalisation of agricultural trade in the World Trade Organisation. The half million livestock being killed are a ritual sacrifice to the gods of global markets. Shutting the countryside down while keeping borders open to trade will not prevent spread of disease - either coming in through imports or going out through exports.
Second, the export obsession that is an intrinsic part of globalisation also leads to a blindness to the welfare of animals and farmers. Thousands of livestock can be annihilated, hundreds of farmers ruined to maintain the "vaccine free" status of exports. Neither the farmers nor farm animals count in the calculus of free trade. That is why farmers are committing suicide in thousands in India, and animals are being killed in thousands in the UK.
Third, the same agencies that refuse to act in the public interest on issues of food safety related to GMOs are willing to cull farm animals infected by a non-fatal disease.
These are double standards. On the basis of the precautionary principle, the UK government should ban GMOs instead of killing harmless animals if it is concerned about safety of food and agriculture.
The crisis in the UK should make us all think more seriously about globalisation of food and agriculture. We need to explore what is the most reliable way to produce safe food, protect human and animal health, build immunity and resilience in our farming. The crisis needs a systems response, not military operations.
The problem is not the occurrence of disease and infection, but vulnerability to it. The very idea of disease-free animals and disease-free people fuels the appetite for genetic engineering. It decreases our levels of tolerance and resilience. It breeds fear, anxiety and paranoia - the kind of fear that is moving the military might of Britain to declare a war against its hoofed inhabitants.
This paranoia suits the genetic engineering industry perfectly. By exterminating farm animals, the option of small organic farms is eroded. By creating a fear of disease, a new market is created for Dolly, and Polly and Tracy and all their clones.
We should stop this war against farm animals. Without them we will never be able to build a sustainable farming future.
Dr Vandana Shiva, a physicist and ecologist, has in India established Navdanya, a movement for biodiversity conservation and farmers' rights.
5 April, 2001
I have just heard that the man in our village who is refusing to hand over his small flock had a visit from MAFF people today and was told that he MUST hand them over. I haven’t spoken to him myself but his next-door neighbour told me that he is distraught.
I wrote to our local MP last week but so far she has not even given me the courtesy of an acknowledgement. Perhaps I came on too strong! What a mess it all is.
Have you noticed that the BBC is giving FMD practically no coverage at present? Have they been told by the Government to keep it “low profile” for fear of upsetting those in the tourist industry?
Now we know why we don’t go out!
GOAT KILLED WHILE POLICE DISTRACT OWNER
Mrs Elizabeth Walls, proud owner of Misty, a 1 year old goat, was last night distracted by police, while a vet and MAFF official broke into her stable and killed the frightened animal – without any written or verbal permission whatsoever from Mrs Walls.
Mrs Walls, who also owns a pony, 2 dogs and a cat, kept Misty in a stable at the bottom of her garden in Mouswald, Dumfriesshire. Misty used to regularly accompany the family and the dogs on walks in the surrounding countryside.
Vets and MAFF officials have been attempting for several days to convince Mrs Walls that Misty posed a risk to health, on the grounds that Mrs Walls’ back garden borders a farm, which has recently had all its cattle destroyed. Mrs Walls today voiced her suspicion that the cattle on the neighbouring farm possibly didn’t have F&M anyway, and certainly had all the appearances of being perfectly healthy.
At around 9pm on the evening of Thursday 5th April, a vet came to the door and stated bluntly “I’m here to dispose of the goat. If you don’t agree, I’ll get the police.”
Mrs Walls asked him if he had any proof that Misty had F&M and he replied that he did not. She asked him if he would take blood tests of Misty. He would not. He was even asked if he could prove that the neighbouring farm had F&M. He could not. Again he stated, “If you don’t let me dispose of the goat, I’m going to get the police to arrest you”. Mrs Walls replied, “Well I’m not prepared to give you permission”.
The vet left and almost immediately the police, who must have been lingering nearby, appeared on her doorstep. There was a man and a woman and the policewoman said to Mrs Walls “I don’t want to arrest you”. However it was claimed that the Animal Health Act 1981 gave them authority to arrest Mrs Walls if she attempted to prevent the slaughter.
While the police were speaking to Mrs Walls in the kitchen, the vet was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, Mrs Walls was alerted by screaming from her daughter, Kirstine, who was returning home from work, “Misty’s dead! Misty’s dead!”. As Mrs Walls tried to rush out, one of the police officers attempted to stop her, saying, absurdly, “You can’t go out of the house, it’s an infected area!”. “Don’t be ridiculous” replied Mrs Walls. The officer shot back, “Well, why to you think we’re all dressed up in this plastic clothing?”. However she did get outside, only to find a strange man standing around in the dark. “Who are you?” she asked, and he promptly turned his back on her. “Excuse me, don’t turn your back on me. Who are you?”. “I’m only the driver”.
It later transpired that he was the MAFF official. He had also tried to stop Kirstine at the end of the driveway when she was coming home, and had followed her down the road saying, “Your mother’s going to be arrested, and the police will soon sort you out”.
While the police had been keeping Mrs Walls speaking in the kitchen, the vet and the MAFF official had sneaked around the back, broken into the padlocked stable, and killed Misty. They did this without obtaining any written or verbal permission whatsoever from Mrs Walls. A horrified Kirstine was told by the policewoman “Grow up, this is the real world, not Disneyland”.
8 April, 2001
I hope you are lucky and escape FMD where you are. It has been awful living here. I got so mad last week when one of my customers said he was glad to see the back of the forest sheep, and hoped we’d never get them back again. They are as much a part of the Forest of Dean as the ponies are of Dartmoor. Sure, they cause trouble sometimes. They can (or could) smell an open gate from a mile away and were total wreckers if they got into the garden. I have been victim to their vandalism more than once, but for all that I would not like to see them gone forever.
It is not totally silent here yet as the Farmer whose land backs on to our garden still has his sheep. Every morning the first thing I do is check his fields for the sheep. So far, so good!!
9 April, 2001
The elderly couple who were resisting MAFF, who wanted to take their healthy little flock of primarily pet sheep, finally succumbed to the “bully boy” tactics that MAFF seem to be using. Their animals went yesterday, including two little lambs that they had been bottle-feeding. The lady was in tears when she came to get her pension today. Her husband has kept a few sheep continuously since he was 11 ……… and he is now in his 70s. She said he is devastated.
I was told today that a lorry carrying sheep carcasses to an incinerator service that has been set up locally, dropped 3 carcasses on the Golden Valley Bypass, near Cheltenham, when the back of his tipper truck came open. The driver had to stop and summon help and equipment in order to get them back into the lorry. The source of this story was a friend of the lorry driver concerned.
A friend of ours was on his way to work on Sunday morning, at about 5.00 am and saw a truck dripping blood-like noxious liquid all over the road. Since the trucks are not that common on small country roads at that time on a Sunday morning, he suspects that the cargo was animal carcasses.
Fighting the previous war
If Algeria and Macedonia can get rid of F&M disease with vaccination, surely a backward country such as ours can do the same? This is a classic case of the generals fighting the previous war.
Surely the notion of being F&M free is rather old hat now. Let’s move into the 21st century and vaccinate everything now before it’s too late.
VACCINATION LEFT TOO LATE
I think that the decision to vaccinate should have been taken immediately, as it was by the Netherlands. In this way, hopefully hundreds of thousands of animals could have been saved.
The country is in mourning, for its animals and for its farmers. We all feel the pain, no matter how far or near we are to farming. We all feel the injustice. If vaccination had been adopted from the start, perhaps we could have ring-fenced this before it got this bad.
There is a general feeling in the public that this government tried to treat the public as fools, not understanding the issues. There are many of us now in industry and business who clearly remember the outbreak in the 60s, and this again has been ignored. We are not children who know nothing of this – we have lived it before.
I feel that a gross injustice has been done to farmers and to the animals.
We have a zoo not far from here. If it cannot open after Easter it is doomed. The rare species in it are doomed also, because no one would have them afterwards.
I will never, repeat never, forget this, or forgive this government for doing so little, so late, for things we hold so dear.
Is the Foot and Mouth fight worth it?
CONTRARY to popular belief, is the UK community putting millions of pounds and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent animals for little more than catching a cold to secure animal exports, a poor priority? If, as we are told, farming contributes less than 4% to the GNP, of that 4% even less will be in exports. Surely we should be protecting the more important industries like tourism?
I have suggested to the Dartmoor Tourist Association that, “All open countryside that supports livestock running free should give that livestock added value over and above the market price. It is their very presence on that land that makes it appealing for visitors. It harks back to a time before enclosures when all countryside was common land and the shepherds or herdsmen followed their stock wherever they wandered. It represents freedom in our ever-more-restricted and overcrowded country”.
I believe all livestock in such situations should be vaccinated and all rights of way that do not cross farmland or go near infected farms should be opened to let the blood start flowing back through the countryside. This slaughter policy showed it didn’t work for over 70 years after it was first introduced. Technology, vaccines and tests have advanced so much that there are at least four tests that can distinguish between vaccinated animals and diseased.
We have a small flock of pedigree sheep trapped among infected farms, luckily just too far away to affect us. These animals are part of the appeal for visitors to our Devon B&B, that no longer come.
F&M has affected the local cycle shop (people don’t buy bikes they can’t ride in the country); the local caterer who has lost business through cancelled conferences; the tyre company that has no tractors to fit tyres to; the management training company that cannot use the countryside for team building exercises; the canoe and hang-gliding company that was about to open a shop next door – the list goes on. When will the authorities realise it is affecting everybody except those that live on a different planet.
11 April, 2001
A note from a Forest of Dean resident to say just how devastated I am about this whole affair. I can’t believe so many animals are being slaughtered needlessly when vaccination is such a viable possibility. The Forest is a very sad place indeed. Where I live, normally there would be sheep and lambs outside my front gate (and often in my garden given the opportunity) at this time of the year, but instead there is just silence. Even the birds don’t seem to be as vociferous as usual. The trees are slow to show their buds, as if in mourning.
What MAFF has done here is the biggest obscenity imaginable. Blame for infected free-roaming sheep has been laid at irresponsible sheep badgers, but I wonder if they were infected at all, or is this another of MAFF’s LIES to justify their action.
The badgers were instructed by MAFF and the Forestry Commission, at the outset of this outbreak, not to round up their sheep and enclose, because the risk of disturbing the herds of fallow deer in the Forest was too great, and it would be better to let them carry on roaming. In 1967 the sheep were enclosed until the end of the outbreak and there wasn’t a problem. Then MAFF (in their wisdom) decided to round up the sheep and tiny lambs in order to slaughter them. Disgraceful behaviour. They have wiped out hundreds of years of tradition that has shaped the Forest and given it its character.
My Grandfather was a Freeminer and ran his flock of sheep on the Forest a hundred years ago. He will be turning in his grave at this utter disrespect for both animals and people in the name of economics. Of course the tourist trade in the Forest has and will suffer more. Soon without the roaming sheep, ramblers will find the paths and tracks overgrown and impassable and there will be less of the unique quality they come to enjoy in the Forest.
Oh, but I almost forgot! We have a new Tourist Attraction! A nice new incinerator, to dispose of thousands of slain animals within 1 mile of our little Forest town of Coleford. That sight and smell should encourage the visitors to come in their droves and if we are very lucky it will be able to double up as a BSE disposal unit when MAFF have stopped the spread of FMD because we have animals left.
Sorry this is so long – Diana – Vaccinate not Eradicate – and go for it all you people out there who are saying NO to MAFF’s intention to slaughter the animals.
13 April, 2001
We took the opportunity to have a private talk with the MAFF veterinary officer present at the meeting, discussing all the issues surrounding vaccination. He was personally in favour of vaccination and vividly portrayed to me his anguish at the nightmare of the present slaughter policy.
He and his colleagues were working round the clock, with three or four hours sleep a night, killing animals when their training and moral judgement cried out against it. We suggested that he and his colleagues were in a position to refuse such orders and left him to consider his ethical standpoint.
He studied our prediction of five and a half million animals slaughtered by the end of April and accepted it as broadly correct on the figures available. He promised to raise this at higher levels because he quickly grasped the significance, namely that MAFF will be unable to cope with these numbers of carcasses when they are already overwhelmed right now. But the depressing message he gave us was clear – that the slaughter policy was politically motivated, not scientifically based, and that only political pressure could reserve it.
SHEEP SHOT AT RANDOM – From “Powys County Times”
Mr David Owens, of Trelystan, Leighton was horrified last Saturday when ministry officials and a ministry vet began to slaughter 160 sheep under the “dangerous contact” directive within 20 yards of his home.
Mr Owens said: “Under the dangerous contact directive, 160 sheep, not belonging to myself, were gathered into an inadequate, makeshift pen within 20 yards of my home. So-called, licensed slaughterers then proceeded to shoot these pregnant sheep at random. Live sheep were able to trample over dead. This was carried out under the direct supervision of Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food officials and a MAFF appointed vet who took sole charge of the operation”.
When Mr Owens protested about the slaughter taking place outside his door, he was told it had to go ahead there as they only had six hurdles in which to kill the 160 sheep. He said, “They stopped the cull at once when I protested, they were killing inside a pig wire fence immediately behind the parish notice-board in full view of any passers-by, because inadequate road closures had been made.
“Neighbours later phoned me to say they had driven past and were distressed by the sight. We received no notification or communication from MAFF prior to the slaughter opposite our home. No thought was given about children living in the vicinity and therefore able to witness the event”.
To stop the cull being carried out by his home, Mr Owens lent the MAFF officials his own sheep hurdles so that they could carry on with the cull away from the road. He said “As a flock owner caught up in this crisis I appeal to farmers who, unfortunately, have to go through a similar ordeal, to gather as much evidence as possible concerning the slaughter of livestock. Photographic evidence of the Trelystan kill has been retained by myself”.
“While every effort is being made to control the disease through a slaughter policy, it must not be at the expense of the welfare of our livestock. The ‘professionals’ must not be desensitised by their actions but must be held accountable. Every effort must be made to ensure our animals die with respect and dignity.”
Urgent – Read Now:
I though you should all see this immediately. It comes from today’s Farmer’s Weekly, page 7 for those who want to check:
VACCINATION MOVE BLOCKED
A bid by the Prime Minister Tony Blair to implement a foot and mouth disease vaccination programme has been blocked by the supermarkets. A government official said that Mr Blair, cabinet ministers and senior scientific advisors were agreed that a limited vaccination programme was now the only way left to tackle the spread of the disease. MAFF planned to override the opposition of farming unions to make the announcement on Wednesday (Apr 11) of a firebreak vaccination programme. Government also hoped to sanction the voluntary use of the vaccine for rare breeds. But as the deadline for the announcement approached the supermarkets stepped in and blocked the move saying they would not sell F&M vaccinated meat products and government was forced to “backtrack”.
Who is running this country? I believe that this could give us a real focus of our protest. People standing outside supermarkets with pictures of dead animals and mud-drenched lambs could be powerful stuff. Cars with the sheepdrove posters – “Jab not Cull”, “Cull MAFF” and “DANGER! Government incompetence” parked prominently in the car park. What do you all think about this? If nothing else, we need to question our local supermarkets what their problem is, as we already eat meat vaccinated for other diseases which are FATAL to animals and no one suffers from that – F&M isn’t even a fatal disease!!!!!
I can’t understand the attitude of supermarkets not wanting a vaccination policy. They are happy to bring in meat from countries where animal welfare standards are dubious and where the risk of bringing in disease is high – in the interests of cheap food.
I am a British dairy farmer who has “kept up” with all the UK standards of welfare, pollution, etc at a high cost, but it has left me uncompetitive. If my farm escapes F&M, I might have to give up through lack of profit anyway – making way for more cheap imports.
Farmers for Action tried to get Government to ban imports from F&M countries last November but was ignored – in the interests of cheap food? Doesn’t look so cheap now does it?
14 April, 2001
BELTANE AND THE ANIMALS
The ancient Celtic feast of Beltane is nearly upon us. At this time, the ancestors prayed for the safety of their herds, lighting enormous blazes on hilltops as part of the springtime ritual.
Today we see the urgency of prayers for the healing of animals and our relationship to them, as well as for the planet itself. Please join in the ceremonial re-lighting of Ireland’s ancient Beltane Fires, the Fire-Eye Festival, in your own community.
*Light a Beltane Fire
From April 27 through to May 1, place a light in your window to signify your solidarity with the animals and those who tend them. The soft flame of a candle is a tiny echo of those ancient blazes (for safety reasons you may want to use an electric light). As you light your Beltane Fire each night, join us in this prayer:
Prayer for Beltane
This is the season when, in ancient times, great fires were lit upon the hilltops to signify the coming of spring and to pray for an abundant summer.
At that time too, the ancient Celtic peoples drove their herds near the Beltane Fires, praying for the health and protection of the cattle.
Now, in this time of desperate pain for animals and farmers, we light again the fires of spring in our hearts and our homes, in our windows and our spirits. As we do, remember:
The health of the herds is the health of the people
The health of the herds is the health of the earth
The life of the herds is the life of the people
The life of the herds is the life of the earth
Lighting the flames of the Beltane, we pray for healing:
Healing for the animals
Healing for those who care for the animals
Healing for the land
Healing for us all
*Join us in daily meditation:
At 12 noon and 6pm, pause for a few moments and send your thoughts, energies, prayers that our relationship with the earth, and especially with earth’s other animals, be healed. The people of Europe whose herds have been recently devastated will especially welcome your prayers and energies.
I am a smallholder on the Welsh Borders totally surrounded by F&M and the stench of funeral pyres. We are an island in the middle of it all. Disinfectant has been in place from day 1 and have been in self-imposed quarantine, urged all my neighbours to do the same, some said I was overreacting, but by day 3 were with me.
I remember it only too well from the last time round. Guess this present Government didn’t, as they ignored the advice on their own MAFF website, which recommended that the Army be brought in immediately to dispose of infected carcasses and ring vaccination be used. That report has since gone from the Site, Hmmm!
Resisting here but in a very lawful way! My neighbour farmer, Dennis, had eighty cows culled this week; they were at a pasture at a nearby farm, which became infected. He faced the loss of all his animals as MAFF put him as direct contact case, as he had been feeding them, albeit from the road, and no contact elsewhere. He fought to have them tested and they came back negative. Those cows were still slaughtered, but the rest of his herd and flock below me are still there and healthy.
I today have taken up the email Bambi Blair campaign, have also mailed all supermarkets and mailed a load of people all over the world to do the same. I cannot go very far to protest, still in my self-imposed quarantine, the Silence of the Lambs campaign seems to me a great way of making this known, it is very quiet in the fields all over the UK.
Thankfully, for me tonight is a celebration. My ewe, Hops, finally gave birth to her twin lambs; tonight I will sleep well as my lambing is over. They are healthy, as is the rest of my flock, not so silent here!
Location: Vancouver, Canada
We Scots overseas are heartsick for you. I was a farm boy in the Highlands. I saw Foot and Mouth when I was a child, yet can scarcely imagine how you must feel, given what we see over here on TV about the government’s incredible incompetence. I can’t say anything that makes a difference, except that a family here is praying for you.
Beannachd Dhe leibh – God’s blessing with you. Michael from the Isle of Rum
15 April 2001
AN EASTER MESSAGE
Returning home this morning after church, I gave the dogs a quick run and then made a cup of coffee and sat down to watch ‘Landward’, the Scottish TV programme for farmers. It was simply dreadful. Showing as usual pictures of devastated Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway. The whole landscape devoid of livestock and the smoke from the burning pyres filling the sky. It included an interview with a young dairy farmer at Newcastleton, in the Scottish Borders. He described how his animals had been his life and said he could tell us the history and character of each one that he had cared for on the farm, single-handed.
Then he described how he had witnessed the slaughtermen and two MAFF vets herd his beasts into a small shave of land on his farm and shut the gates to prevent their escape. The slaughtermen then proceeded to shoot them with rifles as the vets stood and watched. He said, “The dead and dying lay heaped on each other, with calves stood among them”. Then, obviously close to breaking down in tears, he added, “They shot the bull three times and I don’t know if he was dead then”. The interviewer asked him “Didn’t they use a captive bolt, they’re supposed to use a captive bolt, aren’t they?” “No”, he replied, “There was no captive bolt used here”.
On this ‘Easter’ day, I’m sorry that I feel compelled to relate such a dreadful story but we are witnessing a ‘crucifixion’ of another kind, the murder of millions of innocent animals and the destruction of our farming industry. The only consolation I can offer is the hope that the more people who know what is happening the more likely we are to get it stopped.
The ‘Judas’ in this modern saga is our Government.
The ‘Romans’ compare to MAFF and the ministry vets.
It is up to us, ‘the people’ to cry, “Stop the slaughter” instead of “crucify him!”
Kill, Kill, Kill
I copied the following from yesterday’s Newcastle Journal:
RARE BREEDS EXPERT “BLOCKADED WHILE FLOCK WAS KILLED”
The bodies of some of the rarest sheep in Britain were smouldering on a funeral pyre last night after the woman who had vowed to protect them says she was kept away from the round up.
Retired dentist Dr Frances Fish was served with a Government A-notice yesterday morning. It declared that nearly 200 of her rams, ewes and new lambs were being culled, because they were in an infected area within three kilometres of two Border farms where foot and mouth was confirmed last weekend.
Dr Fish says the notice was pushed through the back door letterbox of her home at Eckford House, near Kelso, by two officials who then left as two uniformed policemen blocked the drive. Within minutes a civilian team began the round up of the Fish flock six miles away in fields which the 58-year old rare breeds expert rents near Hownam.
Gosforth-born Dr Fish said last night: “It was like something from a police state. It was obviously worked out to make it impossible for us to get to the fields in time. “The police car was blocking the drive preventing us from getting our car out. The officers said we were free to leave but the only way we could do that was by walking. They stayed around 45 minutes and I regard it as nothing more than a blockade”.
Last night Lothian and Borders Police denied that Dr Fish had been blockaded in her home. A senior office at the Tweedbank emergency command centre said, “Two officers were at the house to escort the officials serving the notice and explain the process to Dr Fish. She and her husband were not around initially so they stayed parked for some time at the bottom of the drive after the officials left and until the Fishes came back. They then spoke to them and explained what was happening. The exchange was perfectly cordial. There seems to be a misunderstanding here because Dr Fish at no time asked the officers to move away from the drive. Had she done so they would have complied”.
Dr Fish believes her rare sheep should have been exempt from the pre-emptive cull.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department said, “We have to act in the wider interests of all farms.
V IS FOR VACCINATE – A MESSAGE FOR TEENAGERS
This is the message my teenage daughter sent out – perhaps we could all get our teenagers to send something serious out for a change:
‘Here is an excuse to take one minute out of your joyous revision whilst having the peace of mind that you have helped make the difference. All you need is:
- one strong opinion
- one pinch of principles
- one minute of your time
- and a piece of white ribbon
It’s right here, right now and it’s all around us. Foot and mouth. On our television, in our newspapers, in our view and in our lungs. Some even say they wake up to the sweet sound of gunshots. Each and every day we watch the herds of cattle and sheep disappear into thin air – or should that be thick smoke? Those of you who watch the news will know that even in our home county the most primitive immoral acts are taking place as I write this plea for your help and your voice.
The race to kill every animal carrying foot and mouth is a slow and unsuccessful one. When will the indiscriminate killing stop? Science supports vaccination, politics and greed support the mass slaughter of healthy animals. Which do you support? Decisions, decisions, here are some quick facts:
1. Mass slaughter of every animal within 3km of the disease whether or not it was perfectly healthy. Mothers, fathers, newborn lambs and calves, so that all that is left is rotting carcasses and a foul smell. Why? To earn more money in the animal production sector through exports of meat and milk products.
2. To vaccinate the healthy animals immediately when foot and mouth is found nearby, and lose the attractive bonus. Why not? I appeal to every individual with decision-making responsibility to plead for a vaccination policy for those diseases that can be prevented by a vaccine in order to show that we do have some remnants of civilisation.
Make YOUR voice heard! Please help as a person with responsibility, conscience and morals, follow this simple 3-step guide to make the difference and to make the change:
1. Forward this message to as many people you know: friends, family, neighbours and random people.
2. Wear a white piece of ribbon in the shape of a ‘V’.
3. Print out the poster attachment and make sure it’s SEEN.
SHOW THAT YOU CARE!
Thank you for your time.’
DESPAIR AND HOPE
After reading letters from a 15 year old and a 60 odd year old, it doesn’t seem to matter who we are or how old we are, there are feelings of despair and hope. I hope this may help:
We must eradicate from the soul all fear and terror of what comes out of the future.
We must acquire serenity in all feelings and sensations about the future.
We must look forward with absolute equanimity to everything that may come … and we must think only that whatever comes is given to us by world direction full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn in this age, namely to live out of pure trust … without any security in existence. Trusting in ever-present help of the spiritual world. Truly, nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail.
Let us discipline our will and let us seek the awakening from within ourselves every morning and every evening.
RS …………… Blessings to you all at this Easter time
In the evening:
I carry my sorrow into the setting sun
Place all my cares into its radiant womb
Purified through love, transformed through light,
They return as strengthening thoughts.
As powers for deeds of joyous sacrifice.
16 April 2001
Woke to clear blue skies and sunshine. In a normal year this would give me a real buzz, with summer just around the corner. None of us feel quite that way this year; it’s almost as if the burgeoning spring is rather tactless and indecent – like wearing a party frock to a funeral.
However, once the sheep, disinfectant, etc, were all done, we spent the whole day working outside, cutting and sorting this year’s willow crop (a bit late really) and getting some grass cut. We neither saw nor heard the news, we enjoyed the sunshine, played with the dogs and almost pretended things were normal. It seems so hard to believe that the green fields, the lambs scampering about across the river, the first swallow and the warm sunshine were actually real. In a weird way, now it’s dark, all that seems like the dream, and the worry about unseen germs, the white boiler suits, the awful suffering is the real world. Maybe there is something to be said for heads in sand after all.
Our organic farm is just outside the 3km cull zone near Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway. I think that it’s just a matter of time before we go down. We have given all our stock Boron30.
If the worst comes to the worst I do not wish to give permission to have our stock culled. This might mean that we will lose compensation for our stock and therefore our future and that legal expenses are likely to amount to many thousands of pounds.
I would like to know if you know of anybody, organisation etc, that might be willing to contribute or fund this and also come here to add moral support to us, as we are under great strain and feel worn out with worry and we are still lambing which adds to the strain.
We are long standing members of the Soil Association, Scottish Organic Producers, of which I am a former director, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and others. Many of our stock are home bred and they are my friends, I feel that I cannot defend them myself. Please help.
17 April 2001
I expect most of you have seen bunches of flowers, and other floral tributes left at the side of the road at the site of a fatal accident. Well, here in the Forest of Dean such floral tributes are appearing under the trees all over the place, a tribute to the sheep killed by MAFF. I don’t know who is placing them. Maybe the owners, or perhaps just animal lovers, who were so sad to see the sheep go like this. I find it rather moving.
I cannot protest, I’m sorry.
I have seen it twice here in Cumbria; I could not find the words to even point them out to Duncan. On Saturday I heard my neighbour’s sheep being rounded up for slaughter. The noise of the lambs as they were separated from the ewes was sickening. Hours before I had been listening to them bleating in the morning sun.
I have been asked to go and protest outside a local abattoir on Monday as the wagons roll in full of healthy sheep. I cannot do it. I do not have the courage to go and see all those sheep going to their death. I am finding it hard to live and accept what is happening all around me and to see nothing but empty fields. I’m not brave, just very sad.
I keep rare breed sheep, not commercially, so I haven’t got a livelihood to lose … just a way of life. This massacre in my view is one of the most traumatic things to have been inflicted on this country in decades. It’s chaotic, inept, brutal, dishonest, nihilistic (if I’ve got the right word), diabolical and futile. It’s targeting the family farms and hill farms, in other words the kind of agriculture which is welfare friendly, environment friendly and community friendly.
I know all this has already been said. I can’t remember a time though when the whole population was so unanimous about something. So where’s the democracy gone? Why are we letting this happen? Why are we putting up with the lies, all the spin, all the bulls..t? If we don’t do something to stop it, will we be able to live with ourselves afterwards, in the wasteland that’s left?
(By Mike Parker, PA News)
The tragedy of the foot and mouth crisis has been chronicled by an eight-year old girl, who kept a secret diary, in which she wrote of the heartache of losing her favourite cow.
Jessica Cleminson is scarcely old enough to understand the magnitude of the disease but her thoughts and feelings, as shown in the diary, graphically depict the trauma caused when Ministry of Agriculture officials ordered that her 14-year old pet cow, Caroline, was to die.
News that Caroline and the rest of Jessica’s father’s herd were to be culled came the day after the little girl wrote that the prized pet was expecting a calf.
Last Friday, Jessica wrote: “Dear diary, today I found out that we are in Category D and that is bad. That means I cannot leave the house much and it isn’t fair”. Alongside a colourful drawing of a cow she added, “My favourite cow Caroline is having a calf, maybe twin calves”.
But the following day, Jessica wrote a note in which she could not bring herself to say the word ‘killed’.
It read, “We have foot and mouth. Caroline has to be …… I can’t even say it and she has to be …… with her baby inside”. “Please Lord, how come you did this to us?”
The diary, which was found under Jessica’s bed at her home in New Hummerbeck Farm, West Auckland, County Durham, is perhaps one of the most poignant images of the disease, which is ravaging the farming community.
The youngster even wrote the diary using coloured pens to reflect her mood, with red, yellow and blue writing on Friday showing she was still upbeat. But on the Saturday, the day the cattle were condemned, she wrote her diary entry in black and circled two smudges with an arrow indicating ‘my tears’.
Her father, Stephen, told PA News, “We didn’t know about this diary until my wife found it under Jessica’s bed. We were heartbroken when we read it. The cow, Caroline, was a cow in a million – I have never known a cow like it. She was as friendly as a dog. The children would ride on its back. She would stand for ages with her head in your arms”. He added, “The cow was almost human, she used to cry at times. Caroline cried when they came to put her down. She was within 24 hours of calving, which made it all the worse, because the expectation in Jessica was that she would have a baby. That was a terrible blow”.
The Cleminsons had to get special MAFF permission for Jessica and her sister Laura, 13, to be allowed off the farm the day before slaughtermen came to cull 172 cattle and 18 pigs on the New Hummerbeck farm and the family’s other farm at Kirk Merrington, near Spennymoor, County Durham. Mr Cleminson said, “An army solider led my daughters down the lane with tears rolling down their faces. It was an awful situation”.
YOU SEE, I LOVE SHEEP
I woke at 7.00am this morning, drew the curtains and there were sheep, and as it is spring there were lambs. Twins, most of them in their playgroups. There were sheep, and their lambs, when we moved to this, our home thirty-one years ago. There are always sheep somewhere to be seen from our home.
You see, I love sheep.
There would have been sheep, carrying their lambs, around the cottage where I was born, in Bitterley, Salop, on a day in January, 1931. In the spring of that year, there would have been lambs too, as I sat in my pram in the garden. There were no sheep or lambs three years later, when my Mother, leaving my countryman Father, returned to Birmingham.
I must have missed those sheep.
And then, I was sent away to Cheshire, a sad time in my life, but I do remember the sheep. The sheep that I saw as I walked with all the other children to and from school, twice a day. No school meals in those days, there was school milk, horrible, never liked milk since. And so, on the 28th October 1940 I am returned to Birmingham to my Mother. But there were no sheep. Parks, but no sheep. The Luftwaffe tried to kill me.
I know I missed those sheep.
And then in 1941, to Lincolnshire, to Caythorpe, my much loved Caythorpe. There were sheep, and in the spring, the lambs, and I could help with them. Do you know the excitement for a young boy of being allowed to help, to be there when a flock of sheep are dipped, to help shepherd them? Oh why did I decide I wanted to be a Wireless Man, like my big brother?
You see, I love sheep.
And, while I am an apprentice, apprenticed to be a Wireless Man, I am given this fluffy little collie, my Mother was furious, but he stayed. Spike was his name, he grew to be a handsome tan and white, black saddled collie. And he and I loved one another, he was a perfect dog, he could work sheep.
You see, he loved sheep too.
And then, in 1948, my Mother decided she had to return to Birmingham. Boys did not disobey their Mothers in those days, and so I went too. And Spike went too, there were no sheep, he and I missed our sheep, and our lambs. So I became a Wireless Man and then a Television Man, just sheep on the telly. Spike and I used to go for walks along the canal and sometimes in the park.
But there were no sheep.
And then, I met Joyce and in a while we started ‘courting’, we walked the canal, with Spike, he did not like her too much. Perhaps because she wasn’t a sheep. We planned our cottage in the country, with Spike, a cat and six children, I didn’t tell her about the sheep. We married, bought our first house. Spike fell in love with Joyce, traitor. And I was introduced to country holidays. Fancy going on holiday to the country, the country is the place where you live, surely.
So Spike and I found sheep, again.
Spike died, aged 14, a calm death in his sleep. He was buried under an apple tree. We moved, I now a Broadcast Television Man, a Councillor and a Trade Union official. Our two girls arrived, sheer joy. We had our troubles, but we had our caravan. And so we had many holidays in our caravan, farms were preferred, we had our Siamese cat.
He did not like sheep.
We moved to Cornwall, found our beloved Carvabyns, a large house, a wild house. Nearly nine-hundred feet above sea level. South-westerlies blew you off your feet. Wonderful views, the Cornish ‘Alps’ at St Austell, Roughtor, and the sea ten miles away. Lots of sheep, hundreds of sheep, following their shepherd along the moorland road.
Lost job, had to leave sheep.
And, in 1970, to Cumberland, to Bewcastle and Clattering Ford, and sheep, lovely sheep. And, seven weeks old came our son. At 27 he likes sheep. Sheep were here when the Legions crossed the Ford that gives our house its name. They were here when this was the Welsh Kingdom of Rheged, they were reived by the various clans, there wasn’t much to tell a Scot from an English man in those days. Talk about ‘cattle movements’ - they were a daily occurrence, by the Steel Bonnets.
Each day I could see sheep.
We own the land now that the sheep and lambs graze on, we do not own the sheep. But they are ‘our’ sheep. When they go away to be sheared, or dipped, we miss them. Understand that while they are with us, our friend, their owner, cares for them, helps lamb them, treats them when they are sick.
You see, we all love ‘our’ sheep, farmer and friends, all.
And the rest, that is yet to be told ……………………
As I see the flocks leaving Bewcastle, in the murderous cull, I felt I had to write this in their memory. ‘Our’ flock is still here (17.4.01). Without that miracle I believe in, it will not be for long.
Ron, a very sad old Quaker, living in the beautiful but sad Parish of Bewcastle. I should not hate, but I am afraid I do, I hope I will be forgiven.
Speaking of ‘Chilling’ Biblical references see Deuteronomy 28v31
“Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but will eat none of it.
Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned.
Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no-one will rescue them”.
For more like this, read the whole of Deuteronomy Chapter 28, particularly from v 15.
18 April 2001
So they are going! The sheep and lambs that I love
So they are going, the sheep I love and the lambs. We arrive home from the shops and there are the sheep and the lambs, and I do not understand how farmers, who rear, tend and nurse, when sick, their animals, can with receiving one telephone call, timed with an intention to allow no time to think, no time to stop this murderous cull, pen them, pen them, to go. To go, the sheep and the lambs that I love.
I am angry because in their haste to acquiesce to this evil power, they could not come to me, to say they have to go. The sheep and lambs that I love. Dear God, let there be sheep and lambs in Heaven. You see I love sheep.
Is this the end?
As someone who, for almost all of my adult life, has fought for causes with the risk of losing my career, our home and, at least once, physical risk to myself and possibly my family, cannot understand how farmers, who have raised and cared for their animals all their life, can give up those very healthy animals to be murdered. Especially as they must be aware that it will not help the so-called fight against the disease. Countries that have F&M endemic must regard British farmers as being completely mad.
A very sad, tired old Quaker, living in the Parish of Bewcastle. There are very few sheep.
We still have a few sheep here. So far, those of the farm which backs onto our garden have been spared, but who knows for how long. This farmer always lambs late and his flock have just started giving birth. My two-year-old granddaughter is entranced by the new lambs and keeps going down to the hedge to look at them. She gives us a running commentary on what they are doing.
I feel so sorry for the elderly couple who had to surrender their little flock of primarily pet sheep. They are wandering around the village like spare parts. Their sheep dog doesn’t know what to do with herself either. She is very reluctant to go for a walk, as if she can’t see the point, with no sheep to take charge of.
I saw the picture on the front page of the Forest Review. I have to drive in the Forest sometimes and its ghostly and I have seen the flowers and the crosses, it’s a good idea, I think I will put one up in St Briavels, before the election posters go up.
You probably know that there has been a 5th confirmed case here. MAFF and the army swept through here like a whirlwind last week, about 75% of the sheep and lambs were killed. Two farms left and two small pedigree sheep smallholdings. All the others have gone.
BUNGLED SLAUGHTER MUST BE STOPPED
As a senior animal welfare inspector for over 21 years, I am disgusted at the way some stock have been destroyed. I can only go by what I see on the TV, as we have not been present when the slaughter takes place.
No, I am not as some farmers call “one of the pussy people”; I have worked in the farming community most of my life, and I am a trained slaughterman. In fact in the last outbreak in 1967, my cows were slaughtered.
I know that this slaughtering is an emergency, but that is no excuse not to do the job properly. There is no hurry when carcasses are left for days. Even on the farms, all animals should be pithed; the captive bolt only stuns.
I would ask MAFF to get their act together and ensure that these animals are killed correctly with as little stress as possible. Remember the slaughter regulations, they are there for a reason. If some of these so-called slaughtermen were killing my stock, I know where I would be pointing the gun, and it wouldn’t be at the sheep.
CITY FARM IN BRISTOL – WHAT A COCK UP!
Most of you will remember about two weeks ago a city farm in the centre of Bristol was diagnosed with FMD. The farm had some rare breeds, it served the community helping needy children and other great animal awareness issues. The farm was miles from the countryside and 30 miles from the nearest outbreak. It had been completely sealed off since the outbreak.
MAFF killed the lot, goats, sheep, everything, the kids were distraught. Now blood test results revealed that they did not have FMD at all.
What a good job they didn’t vaccinate them eh? NOT!
These MAFF vets, they are like Daleks, I have the view in my mind of them screaming “EXTERMINATE!” repeatedly whilst shooting everything in sight. If ever a case needed careful diagnosis, this was it. In the middle of a city, miles from an outbreak. Animals that were kept for caring, not for slaughter.
“Sorry” is not a big enough word, but MAFF won’t use it anyway.
20 April 2001
Sorry, list, for bringing this horrible subject up again, but I am so upset and shaking with anger. The MAFF murderers are in the fields which back onto my garden. They have been chasing the sheep and lambs all over the fields trying to round them up. They are now shooting them. There are three big trucks in the road practically outside my house, waiting to cart the dead animals away.
They are not infected. They are being slaughtered as part of this sick government’s culling policy.
They have lived their entire lives in fields with no road access in any direction. Since this epidemic began the farmer has not even been taking his landrover onto the land but has been leaving it at the gate and walking up to attend to his stock. The lambs have only been recently born. Robert has spend whole nights in his lambing sheds bringing them into the world. For this!!
I have been down and tried to speak to the MAFF men but they refuse to answer me. They just look the other way and ignore me. I have tried to ring our MP. Needless to say she is not available. She stays well away from the killing fields. I feel so helpless. What can we do to stop this barbaric slaughter?
ANGLESEY – MORE HORROR STORIES
Where is the sense of it – what’s it all about?
Yesterday MAFF allowed 243 sheep to enter the infected areas of Anglesey (under official licence) having been driven in from an uninfected area on the mainland. They are now in a ‘cull’ (murder) area and it is rumoured that they are considering killing them all today! Has everyone gone mad!
I also have it on very good authority (the person does not want to be named in case he loses his job!) that the original outbreak in Anglesey that took place at an abattoir was not actually positive in the sense we were led to believe it was. The blood tests on the lambs in question did come back positive BUT ……… ONLY SHOWING POSITIVE TO ANTIBODIES!! If this is the case (and I have no reason to doubt it) then this is yet further proof that FMD has been around for a lot longer that we have been told.
Animals are being killed not only when they don’t have any disease at all, but also when they have got over it!! It now looks as if the large majority of sheep that have been killed in Anglesey have been killed without cause.
The Anglesey six are brave and continue their fight. I am forwarding all your messages on to Toni and Mike. They value your kind words of support.
23 April 2001
From the very beginning of this outbreak I’ve been deeply concerned about the wild deer, which roam freely throughout our area; having a cloven hoof they too are susceptible to the virus. However, almost nothing has been said on this subject until yesterday, when a TV item reported briefly that a deer had been identified as having the disease. Today’s newspapers speak of “sinister veterinary reports” and a “full forensic cull”, but with no explanation of the implications.
We’ve noticed in recent weeks that the absence of traffic and the quiet fields have made the deer much bolder than usual; generally we see very little of these timid creatures, but lately there have been more frequent sightings, and they are far less fearful at your approach.
The problem they present is that they range free across the whole area without fear or favour; they know nothing of land boundaries, quarantine or avoiding infected areas, and certainly won’t walk obligingly across disinfectant mats! I’ve dreaded the news that these fey and beautiful creatures might have to be culled, but now that it is being suggested you begin to wonder how on earth it could be achieved? You have to find them first (using deerstalkers?) and even shooting using silenced guns would surely startle the herd into full flight. After all the losses of recent weeks, I find myself hoping against hope that in this bare and empty landscape the deer will somehow survive.
24 April 2001
A poem from a farmer’s wife about the loss of her Swaledale sheep:
Foot and mouth isn’t a joke
Although it’s not that funny it’s harming folk
All our sheep all those years of breeding
Down to the pet lamb that we’re bottle-feeding
MAFF say give us more, more, more
Wait until they come knocking at your door
We stand around and swear and cuss
They are getting what they want, rid of us
They always knew how to get it going
Now it’s jumping about to-ing and fro-ing
The experts told them if they light a pyre
It will move even faster with the heat of the fire
And when it comes to the time when they make it end
It’ll be alright for them but we’ll never mend
They are in full control I don’t think they lied
And our slaughtered sheep think we took the wrong side.
SUBJECT: “A VOICE FOR THE ANIMALS”
The Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding, GCB, GCVO, CMG, fought equally hard for the exploited animal kingdom, being vegetarian, after visiting slaughterhouses, and being deeply opposed to cruel experimentation on live animals.
Several years ago, in part of a long speech delivered in the House of Lords, he stated: “I cannot leave this subject without some reference… to the place of the animal kingdom in the scheme of things, to man’s responsibility to animals, and to the results of man’s failure to meet this responsibility… All life is one, and all its manifestations with which we have contact are climbing the ladder of evolution… It is an important part of our responsibilities to help them in their ascent, and not to retard their development by cruel exploitation of their helplessness…”
“What I am now saying, if people would realise it, is of very practical importance because failure to recognise our responsibilities towards the animal kingdom is the cause of many of the calamities which now beset the nations of the world. Nearly all of us have a deep-rooted wish for peace – peace on earth; but we shall never attain to true peace… until we recognise the place of animals in the scheme of things and treat them accordingly.”
Lord Dowding was instrumental in saving this nation during those dark hours of World War II, and I fully believe that if we heed his warning and change the ways we treat the animal kingdom, the dark and bleak hours facing us will be lightened, after the terrible slaughter and the exploitation of the innocents.
25 April 2001
The expression “lies, damned lies, and statistics” comes to mind, but we have nonetheless been keeping track of the daily number of cases in the county. (The overall total is something just too terrible to contemplate). It may be both wishful thinking and clutching at straws (for which I make no apology), but it does seem possible that the numbers are levelling out. 10 days ago the tally of new cases daily was well into double figures, once or twice topping 20; the past few days we’ve been into single figures. It may mean nothing, could be a “blip” but we need hope so desperately, some clear sign of the beginning of the end.
On the other hand, let’s put the numbers into perspective; every individual case is a tragedy for the farming family concerned. The end of weeks of anxious care, the beginning of an agonising process not unlike bereavement. More than that, their immediate neighbours as “dangerous contacts”, and those within a 3-mile radius, all face the slaughter of their animals and the lengthy process of disinfection.
When you consider the ripple effect of even one case, then you begin to understand the implications of the figures; and the weight of pain and distress which goes with them. Still think I’m clutching at straws or hoping against hope when I look at those numbers every day?
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
What do I see from where I lie?
Green grass, tall trees and a clear blue sky
Fresh air I smell my senses reel
A wonderful feeling of life I feel
What do I see from where I lie?
Snuggled warm to my mother’s breast
Men in white and army dress
My mother jumps, she tries to run
She knows so well the sound of the gun
What do I see from where I lie?
Men in white take aim and fire
Another statistic for the funeral pyre
What do I see from where I lie?
Men in white, am I to die?
I cannot run my legs are weak
No one can hear for I can’t speak
The men in white aim at my head
Bang! goes the gun, now I lie dead
You say its foot and mouth disease
So can you answer me this please?
High on life not diseased or ill
So why did you label me for the kill?
Why did I die so young and small?
Can anyone tell me, I ask you all?
My body now lies with my Mother
Waiting to be burnt on the funeral pyre
So when the fires are burning bright
Please spare a thought for me tonight.
Just found this on the Sky News website:
PHOENIX BREATHES AGAIN
Phoenix, the calf that survived the cull which wiped out her mother and the rest of her herd, will be spared, Downing Street has announced.
The Ministry of Agriculture reconsidered the fate of the white heifer, after she made it on to the front pages of several newspapers. Her owners had feared she would still be put down despite cheating death once, and threw MAFF officials off their land.
The 12-day-old calf spent five days huddled next to her dead mother, who was slaughtered along with a herd of 15 cattle and 30 sheep at the farm in Membury, near Axminster, Devon, because of an outbreak on a nearby farm. It is thought Phoenix survived because she was tranquillised, but never shot.
Farmers Michaela and Philip Board said the calf had become a symbol of hope for their farm. Mrs Board, 35, said, “The calf is still alive. Nothing has happened. We have asked them to leave our property and get a court injunction. We have told them unless they get a court injunction they cannot kill it. They are going to do that. We feel very strongly about it”.
National Farmers’ Union spokesman, Anthony Gibson, weighed in on behalf of the beast, saying Phoenix should live and that the fuss surrounding her future “makes King Herod look like a humanitarian”.
A MAFF vet who left the farm on Wednesday, but refused to be named, said “We have been here to investigate the situation”. Mrs Board said Phoenix should be spared because she is showing no signs of the disease and there are no surviving animals in the area to infect. “When Phoenix was discovered alive, one of the vets said they would be out to cull her, but I said I was not happy with that decision. None of our animals had the disease, and the calf is healthy, so hopefully we have got a good case”.
27 April 2001
The end of British Farming – OFFICIAL:
“THE ROLE OF RURAL ENGLAND AS THE FOOD PROVIDER FOR THE NATION IS NO LONGER AN ESSENTIAL ONE ”
Quote from the first paragraph of ‘The Government Rural White Paper’ [The Seventh Report of the Environment, Transport and *Regional* Affairs Committee, Vol. 1, 2000.05.03].
Wait for it, the next time you hear a farmer say: “When we restock”, or “We must keep F&M Free Status”, or “To rebuild”, or “The export market in the future”, you will know he has either been asleep or he is completely self-obsessed!
The British Livestock Farming Industry is PLANNED by the EU to follow the British Fishing Industry into oblivion. The British Livestock Farming Industry has all the likelihood, now that Britain is directly ruled by the EU, of survival as The British Steel Industry.
P L E E E E Z wake up and realise that BRITISH FARMING IS FINISHED.
There is only ONE hope for the industry and that is for Britain to leave the EU – don’t let the traitors like Ben Gill, Nick Brown, etc, bribe you or buy you off with clap trap logic of restructuring – that is just propaganda speak for DESTROY.
Defend your farm, defend your animals, defend your rights and protect your freedoms and your Country, LEAVE THE EU.
I’ve read Brown’s whitewash and hogwash he spouted in the Commons and would respond thus:
Ref: House of Commons, 26th April 2001
The statement made by the UK’s ludicrous excuse for an agriculture minister was full of hypocrisy and back pedalling word play. How can he dare have the brass neck to use words like, “welfare”, “discretion”, “refinements”, “partnership”, “marketing orientated”, “environmentally sustainable”, and the indefensible “environmentally responsible” is the epitome of a man deluding himself in a whitewash of Whitehall poppycock and drivel.
“Welfare” – From the very outset he and his MAFFia have never given one bloody hoot about the welfare of the farmers or their suffering animals, sometimes left in quagmire conditions of the most appalling kind to give birth to lambs that then drown because his barbaric rules forbade movement. Welfare is not in your vocabulary, Mr Brown.
“Discretion” – Like the farmers could assist with ‘authorising’ their healthy animals to be slaughtered or they could not; it would be done anyway! Discretion, Mr Brown, you don’t know the meaning of the word.
“Refinements” – How do you refine an animal holocaust? How do you refine numerous burial pits the likes of which the WORLD has NEVER seen? How do you refine the lack of excuses for UNLAWFULLY slaughtering a million plus healthy animals? Refinement, Mr Brown, is something you and your nerds need a lot of.
“Partnership” – Like the one between the police, who help engineer access and condone by their inaction and impotence, numerous cases of brutal and inhumane killing of pet animals. Like the one whereby vets who turned a blind eye to their basic instincts and sworn duty to save and heal the sick animal, to one where they were employed to locate and destroy MILLIONS of healthy animals. A partnership that induces a trance and evil undertaking without justification, Mr Brown, is what you have delivered so far. A partnership where the Army, who are meant to defend us from evil, have to wipe the face of the earth clean of your filthy deeds. Lions led by donkeys.
“Market orientated” – What market would that be then? The one that you have done your damnedest to wipe off the face of British agriculture, or is it the EU one (off our ISLAND, mainland Europe) that you have been told to protect behind closed doors, and nurture by the ludicrous and insane Blitz Kreig caused by a little virus that can’t harm the human, but gives our hoofed sentient beings a little bit of a hard time to some of them.
Or is it the South American market where we import about 80,000 tonnes of VACCINATED beef from each year – the one that has FMD, but sort of controls it with the vaccine you are scared to death of using? The one where Zoning is practised, and border controls are so strict that BSE never gets past them – unlike the German experience (is it three times now that the UK has found spinal cord material from German cattle?). We don’t say “boo” to their goose, do we, Mr Brown? Still importing from there I see!
Maybe it is the import market we support from Argentina, Uruguay, Namibia, Zimbabwe (Mugabee!), Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Thailand, Panama, Paraguay, Croatia or Poland you want to protect, other than the HOME MARKET we could and SHOULD be supporting.
Maybe it really is the £310 million/year UK meat market you are trying to defend, by spending in excess of £20 BILLION of taxpayers’ money in the stupid process in just over 9 weeks. What sort of fool government plays that game? I’ll answer my own question ……… the same bloody idiots that spend £750 million on a stuffed porcupine down in Greenwich and then can’t sell it after a year; not even after spending £60 million plus of taxpayers money advertising their political expertise as Olympian failures!
I am running out of superlatives for your total incompetence, Mr Brown, but one final parting phrase I hope will stick in your gullet for a long time is that 24 carat golden lie, “environmentally responsible” cheap shot.
“Environmentally responsible” – What right have you to even think of that phrase, when you have been the obscene architect of the world’s largest holocaust of animals, killed in the most barbaric fashion, burned in the open and blackening the skies – and your reputation – with filth that will never be repeated anywhere in the world!
You, Mr Brown, and your undisputed world champion cock-up artists in MAFF(ia) will be responsible for untold environmental backlashes that mother earth has yet to regurgitate, having been forced fed with two million and more unfortunate innocents.
You and the government should be in the earth with them.
28 April 2001
John Woolman on Sheep (John Woolman was an eighteenth century Quaker):
How Greed Does Material Injury to Posterity
Sheep are pleasant company on a plantation, their looks are modest, their voice is soft and agreeable; their defenceless state exposeth them a prey to wild beasts, and they appear to be intended by the great Creator to live under our protection and supply us with matter for warm and useful clothing. Sheep being rightly managed tend to enrich our land; but by sending abroad great quantities of grain and flour the fatness of our land is diminished.
I have known landholders who paid interest for large sums of money, and, being intent on paying their debts by raising grain, have by too much tilling so robbed the earth of its natural fatness that the produce thereof hath grown light.
To till poor land requires near as much labour as to till that which is rich; and, as the high interest of money which lieth on many husbandmen is often a means for their struggling for present profit, to the impoverishment of their lands, they then on their poor land find greater difficulty to afford poor labourers, who work for them, equitable pay for tilling the ground.
The produce of the earth is a gift from our gracious Creator to the inhabitants, and to impoverish the earth now to support outward greatness appears to be an injury to the succeeding age.
(from ‘The Wisdom of John Woolman’, Quaker Home Service, London 1972)
29 April 2001
A COUNTRY VIEW OF THE DEVASTATION
(Taken from an article by Jenny Flemming, published in “Our Cats” magazine)
On 28 February I visited our local vet in Longtown to be told that Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) had been detected in that village – this was just a few days after the original outbreak at Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland – just 50 miles along ‘the wall’ from our home. A general feeling of doom and gloom sets in for we all realise the implications.
On 1 March, MAFF arrive at the front door and tell me that all the household moggies have to be kept indoors and the dogs can only be exercised in the garden. The dogs were sent to kennels for a week, by which time it had been confirmed that cats were not likely to spread FMD and could be allowed out. Dogs could be walked on tarmac roads but not on fields. Notices were posted everywhere closing off all the footpaths including the Roman Wall, which is probably the first time it has been closed to walkers since the Romans left!
TO BE CULLED!
The first weekend in March I was off to Belfast for the Northern Ireland Show, the usual food, drink and fun. I arrived home to discover that the 250 assorted sheep gaily eating the turnips in the field in front of the house are to be culled. They belong to a farmer in Longtown who has the disease in his stock. The sheep came off a Scottish hillside and had been purchased at Longtown mart a few days earlier. The sheep were culled on 7 March and were removed immediately because the Department of the Environment would not allow burning adjacent to the Roman Wall. The sheep lay at the Longtown farm for a week before being incinerated!
On 27 March I attended a protest meeting organised by “Farmers for Action” at the Shepherds Inn, Carlisle. The meeting was addressed by Dr Richard North, the Independent Parties Epidemiologist from Brussels, who advocates the vaccination of cattle and allowing the sheep contracting the disease to be left alone. This would increase the antibodies in those sheep and make them less susceptible to contracting the disease in the future. He described the MAFF as “… the ministry of death who were advocating culling because they didn’t know what else to do and didn’t have the logistics to carry it out if they had”.
1050 GUN SHOTS!
On 31 March, the day we had all been dreading, there was scheduled to be a precautionary culling of 1000 sheep and 50 head of cattle at “our farm”. The ewes and lambs were penned in a crush for 13 hours before culling with no food or water. The lambs escaped onto the road and a neighbour and myself had to return them to the field, as the farmer and his wife had gone away for the day as they couldn’t face the culling – I had to – 1050 gun shots.
The cattle were shot in front of one another (at a slaughter house no animal sees another being killed). One beast jumped over the barriers and bonnet of an army landrover and legged it down the road to the next village and on to another farmer’s land. It was driven all the way back and then shot.
Ewes and lambs and young lambs were not given lethal injections. Dead sheep and lambs lay in the field for three days. Cattle lay in the lonning where they were killed for six days. Blood, urine and other liquids ran down the lonning and across the main road. No one cleaned up. The smell of pyres was like lavender water compared to the stink of dead animals.
On April 2 a friend telephoned but could hardly speak, as she had walked past a field filled with culled sheep from the previous day. She had spotted movements in the abdomen of sheep, which showed that the lambs were still alive even though their mothers were dead. The sheep had been shot with the bolt but had not been pithed – a relatively quick way of killing unborn lambs by cutting off the oxygen supply. Lethal injections were still not available.
In a letter to the local newspaper a farmer’s wife wrote of a barn she had passed containing carcasses of slaughtered cattle culled the previous day. One was dragging itself across the floor still alive. The RSPCA were called in. At another local farm cattle carcasses were left for seven days. A pyre was built but the animals could not be burned as it was infested with rats and the environmental health inspection would not allow burning until the rodent population was destroyed. If animals were put on the pyre the rats would just run away. The smell 14 days after death was unimaginable.
Perhaps the most fitting epitaph for the whole episode are the posters now appearing on traffic signs throughout the country, “Cull the MAFF”. Farms, local authorities, vets and all businesses connected with the tourist trade are totally convinced that what has been, no doubt, the most serious economic disaster to hit Cumbria this century, has been made unbelievably worse by a government department that was totally incompetent to act in the emergency caused by this epidemic.
After a quiet spell, we have just had our worst week ever, with a cluster of new cases in the parishes. You might imagine that such news could become almost routine after a while, but it’s never like that, and every confirmed case is an individual and deeply felt tragedy, both for the family concerned and their neighbours.
Some local farmers have also finally surrendered their sheep after battling against the cull. In a perverse way anger and resistance sustained their strength; now, with nothing to fight for, their sadness and emptiness, not to mention inactivity, is all the more heartbreaking.
We were almost undone by an entry in the book at one of our churches in which visitors can make requests for prayer. We know that the authors lost their battle against foot and mouth a few weeks ago, and they simply wrote, “Pray for our animals who served us so well”. For many farmers their herds and flocks are like “family” and it was a poignant reminder that real grief is felt for these dumb sacrifices.
I suppose the question we all ask is … do they know? Do the animals sense what is coming; are they afraid? Does our God who loves everything he has made, welcome back to himself those creatures who have to be sacrificed in the cause of fighting this dreadful disease?
A few weeks ago my husband was asked to bless a little flock of sheep and lambs, who were doomed to die under the cull. As he stood among them their bleatings and calls filled the air, but when he began to speak they stood unnaturally quiet and still. The tears flowed down his face in the midst of the stark reality of “innocent lambs to the slaughter” and the strange sense that they already knew their fate.
1 May 2001
Low banks of fire despoil our pastures green,
Malevolently turning spring’s sweet gift,
To char and spiteful smoke.
No living flame, no spark of hope,
No joyful children dance.
Just figures clad in white,
Their boxes ticked, their forms complete,
Self satisfied in their repugnant work.
Poor innocents that trod the fields but hours or days before.
Who saw the diggers come to wrench the earth
And wondered at the change.
Their trusting eyes beheld the men and means;
Their sorry grotesque forms now taunted by the satiated flames.
Below is the text of a letter I have just written to our caring PM:
Dear Prime Minister,
WHY? – An open Letter
Why, do I sit here in sadness in this village where I live?
Why are all the gates and barn doors locked?
Why, oh why do I fear the sound of a strange car pulling up outside my gate?
Have I committed some unspeakable crime, or refused to pay the bills?
Perhaps I am a terrorist on the run – why am I sitting here writing this feeling bitter, angry, and afraid when I should be enjoying the day, my life?
If it was not so terribly sad, it would be funny – but my husband and I have done nothing more than refuse to let MAFF take our sheep – they are only 5 in total but numbers don’t come into this. We are just some of the many innocent people caught up in this mess – who only want to save our animals – and be treated fairly. We are among the over-sentimental, so it is said – who give our sheep names. When did that become a crime?
It is hard enough living in the countryside – there is little support and amenities for rural people. We are the forgotten. These days there is even less, and soon if this KILL regime carries on there will be NO ANIMALS. A countryside with no animals, it’s like trying to imagine a seaside with no sea! What would be the point?
Since hearing from MAFF on Good Friday and replying and doing what they asked we have heard nothing – nor have the other people in our situation. I expect we are being left to stew – that is how great a risk we pose! Will we all be mopped up at the end – in some final euphoric victory before the retreat? Just more statistics to be buried and forgotten.
You, Mr Blair and those that carry out your orders, have violated and raped the countryside – it will to me, NEVER be the same. Where have our rights as individuals gone? We are not asking to keep diseased animals, just a chance to prove that they are fit and healthy. Is that so wrong? You have force-fed and led the farmers down a road of total destruction and made them believe that sheep, goats and pigs are the ruination of the countryside. Owning and protecting any one of these animals has become a crime in some parts of the country! You would think we were harbouring mass murderers – not innocent animals.
Before all of this I thought this country of ours was an upholder of people’s beliefs and that we ALL had a right to a fair and democratic hearing. That intimidation and blatant misuse of power were regimes more in keeping with countries run by dictators not ELECTED Governments. I no longer hold those views. How sad to feel that about one’s country.
They say that life has to go on, and when MAFF have gone we all still have to live in these rural communities. People will never forget where thousands of animals have been burned and buried, and watercourses polluted.
I ask, please, why has Cumbria been left to bleed? Surely in order to carry out such an evil regime there had to be a reason. Why? Please don’t let the answer be – “it’s because we can”.
Hi all, this came to me this morning:
Quick music in the tender leaves, thin voices call their riffs:
I’m here, I’m here,
The light is coming back, the day is near
When will we fly and feed our young again
This is the hour of birds and monks
The one that guided lonely prophets
Nestling in their desert consciousness
Swathed in the knowledge of their God
An awesome blue intensity throbs in their bones and brains
Calling, I am, I am nothing, but love exists
Lost in the shrinking woods a wild cat screams
Lost in the turmoil of the towns a million voices sob their harsh reply –
There is no God. Another day of emptiness
Struggling to live, longing to be known
Jerked out of sleep by clocks
The governors of our fate stir in their satin sheets
And thank their lucky stars they’re not as other men
They set the rules, give orders, tend the machine
It’s hard, but must be done
I must sell death so that this life goes on
Stench of his rotting beasts torments a sleepless farmer
His stomach turns with that
And with the thought of generations’ care that ends with him
The image of a frayed blue rope
That beam within the barn
We still have choice
I forwarded a copy of Anne Mawson’s letter to a friend and had this reply. Just one more person’s helpless grief:
My cousin, who owns a farm in the north west of Cumbria, near Cockermouth, e-mailed me last week to say the sheep had just been culled there. Every week she didn’t tell me this dreadful news, I dared to hope that by some miracle they might escape. Last November, just a week after we’d been there, the farmer’s only son was killed in a car crash, same age as our own Charlie. Now this.
I lie in bed at night and imagine no sheep on the fells. I feel numb and useless for being ‘down here’ and cheerfully getting on with my life. I wish there were an alternative to this rotten arrogant, shambolic government so that, on voting day, I could make my own little protest, rather than – as I feel at the moment – just not voting at all.
Cumbria, the quiet north west in particular, is where I go to refresh the spirit. It feels Closer My God To Thee. I hold a vision of it in my head, so that when life is noisy and people are crass, there’s a refuge. I know my father felt the same way.
Like Annie Mawson says, I’m just glad my parents are dead.
2 May 2001
Thanks for the email address, I have just sent this:
Would it be possible to for you to draw the public’s attention to this crisis and the awful cruelty involved? A quote from a slaughterman in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph puts it into better words than I can.
He pointed out that many of the ewes that were being killed were heavily pregnant, therefore they had endured a journey to the killing fields of Cumbria, then in his words “the odd one or two lambed after they were shot, [a captive bolt only stuns, does not kill], and the lambs were pulled from them to be injected by a vet”.
So the lambs probably never knew what hit them but for the ewes, the cruelty was immense. Travelling while in labour, queuing to be shot while in labour, and giving birth while unconscious …… how many got burned or buried in that state…… is this what is meant by New Labour? Please Rolf, speak out, people listen to you.
Some excerpts from an article by Tyll van de Voort, a gardener at Oakland Park, in the Guardian:
Picture: MAFF OFF: pointed sign on the Oaklands barricades (sign reads “Only when the last cow has been killed and the last sheep slaughtered will we realise we cannot eat money).
On April 18, the agriculture ministry sent the community farm at Oaklands a fax: “I should be grateful if your clients would co-operate in allowing us to organise the valuation and slaughter of Foot and Mouth Disease susceptible stock at Oaklands Park Community Farm. Yours sincerely, the MAFF Disease Centre Manager”.
The Kafkaesque psyche of MAFF astonishes me. How can a huge bureaucratic machine, kept churning presumably by red-blooded human individuals, behave like a monolithic behemoth – seemingly without any internal discussion or dissent on an issue as controversial as the mass cull policy? In week nine of the epidemic, the machine has found its rhythm of robotic kill, burn and bury, leaving behind death and ashes, fields of silence and sorrow.
Finally the MAFF machine had arrived at Oaklands. Our village community of 116 people – effectively under house arrest for two weeks because of quarantine restrictions imposed on us for being next to an infected farm – gathered again to protect our healthy flock of ewes and lambs, a herd of 60 shorthorn cattle and the children’s pet goats.
As a Camphill community, Oaklands works with handicapped people; and its philosophy, based on Rudolph Steiner’s work, is simple in the way life is simple: give and you shall be given. If everyone makes it his or her focus that the other one is “looked after”, logically all will be cared for. If all grab for themselves, the weak and vulnerable will go empty. We live on, with and from a large farm: the waste goes for compost, we help with the harvest, support the farmer, celebrate the seasons and enjoy the animals and gardens. The surprise for me was that love, far from being a romantic idea, is a principle of order – the only logical principle of order for our time.
Love behaves like money in reverse: the more you spend, the more you get. It’s the same with all creation – love is the reverse of entropy. So, the only appropriate attitude to nature is reverence and care. If they are there, abundance is inevitable. If they aren’t, poverty, starvation and dejection ensue.
A healthy social organism is impossible without a respectful, reverential attitude to nature. If we treat soil, plant and animals like commodities and waste, we will treat each other likewise. The laws of life are inherently different from the laws of industry. Land cannot be “owned” and consequently cannot be “inherited” as property. Nor can it be an object of speculation.
Finally, on the economic level, we have to realise that agriculture is intrinsically local, and thus needs trading arrangements other than those pushed by the WTO.
The solution of mass culling brought by the men in white coats is part of the problem. The problem is the industrial approach to agriculture – and to life and to people. The American psychologist Abraham Maslow put it well: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everyone like a nail”.
However, back to the barricades! On Thursday morning MAFF walked into the clenched fist of people power. By nine o’clock more than 200 people – friends, children, neighbours and distressed farmers – had turned up to celebrate and witness the power of community over bulldozers and stun-guns.
But MAFF never came. Several police officers did, one of them asking if we would allow MAFF’s men in. We declined. Would we be willing to talk to a MAFF official? Yes. They went away and hours later the media, not MAFF, told us that the ministry would reconsider our case. It became clear that MAFF had backed off and our healthy animals could live.
What saved us – and other farmers in Anglesey and elsewhere – was a spark of resistance and the support of other farmers, members of the public and solicitors. They helped us restore our belief that sanity can prevail – if we so want, if we speak up and if we listen.
3 May 2001
Well done, Joyce.
Maybe if Rolf answers you could also add this ……
“Then they started slaughtering the pigs, running them on to a trailer in 20-30 batches and shooting them with captive bolts. That was working well, but in the middle of the afternoon, they ran out of ammunition and starting using 12-bore shotguns. Shooting into the trailer packed with pigs (with the vets actually standing by watching them) they actually managed to shoot the window out of the Massies’ Case tractor, which was attached to the trailer.
David was bringing the sheep in and told them that he wouldn’t allow them to kill the sheep with 12-bores. He insisted they got more ammunition for the pistols, which they did, but it was not until 10pm that night that slaughtering finished, leaving most of the dead bodies overnight”.
A STRONGER POINT OF VIEW
Again, another letter to Berwick advertiser, written by a friend of mine, also fighting the cause:
Current slaughter policy is doomed to failure.
SIR, - MAFF vet Dr Stuart Renton said recently, “Long-standing foot and mouth lesions are being found in sheep nationally, indicating the disease was probably present before the initial outbreak in Heddon”.
This confirms what many of us had suspected – Bobby Waugh’s pig farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall was not where it all started and the current slaughter policy is doomed to failure because the disease was already out of control before the first case was identified. The only logical conclusion of the present slaughter policy is to wipe out the entire national flock and herd. What a marvellous solution! Britain will be forever guaranteed foot and mouth free as there will be no animals to get it and Ben Gill will triumph over the export problem, as there will be nothing to export.
Strange indeed, that on the day the government triumphantly announced the number of daily outbreaks had fallen below 10, farmers were able to identify 24 new outbreaks on that day in Cumbria alone.
The frenzied wholesale slaughter of sheep that is currently underway in Northumberland is the final gamble (the multinational food conglomerates wouldn’t let Nick-puff-in-boots-Brown use vaccination) in order to protect the more valuable and vulnerable cattle before they are turned out to grass, which will be any day now. All because Tony Blair wants to have his election on 7 June without images of dead cows all over the media. A gamble indeed.
The experts in the field of FMD seem to have been ignored and one school of thought only has been listened to, one expensive Australian computer modelling system (with out of date and irrelevant data input). Professor Fred Brown, a laconic Lancastrian – given the OBE for outstanding work in the field – who now works as a visiting academic in USA, says that the policy of slaughter is nonsense as a means of controlling this particular outbreak of the disease. From very early on he was advising ring vaccination. In March he offered the MAFF a simple kit that made testing for FMD possible on the spot. MAFF turned it down; they preferred to kill first and then do a test. Amazingly the BBC did report this – in an edition of Farming Today, aired very early in the morning.
Dr Paul Kitching – who is also pre-eminent on FMD at Pirbright, the Govt. own animal disease research establishment, was mentioned in a leaked memo – front-page news in the Sunday Times April 29 – saying that the slaughter policy should be abandoned at once. He’s off to a new job in Canada. The memo itself was also available. I read it closely. It was clear that Kitching said at the meeting with the National Sheep Association on April 20th that one in four of the farms said by MAFF to be infected did not show positive. Results after the animals had all been slaughtered. This means that all the hundreds of animals around those farms were in no danger whatsoever of becoming carriers. They all died though.
Kitching says in the memo that the disease is very mild in sheep anyway and the risk of their passing on the disease to cattle is very low. With proper risk assessment (vets using blood testing kits) it would be negligible. He deplores the way that MAFF based all policy on outdated and irrelevant models.
A blood testing kit is available – and it works. Pirbright are now – at last – evaluating it (Wednesday 2 May). It has already been evaluated in French tests as 100% effective.
Meanwhile, today the killer squads carry on – with apparently grim satisfaction. The media are virtually silent, especially the BBC. The Govt are now desperate to get tourism back to places like Devon, the Forest of Dean and Cumbria. Chris Smith has been waltzing around Canada saying that the disease is no big deal at all. Tourists will never see fires. Paths are open. This would explain why they want ALL the sheep killed. The leaked memo from Pirbright (see Magnus Linklater’s article in the Guardian) likened the culling to the deliberate lowering of motoring accidents by removing huge numbers of motorists.
It will be a new Disney type countryside where lots of money can be made by farmers who are prepared to sell ice-cream and ‘diversify’. A bit like the pretend ‘show’ mines with their nice clean coal exhibits. There will be an abundance of snowy white calves I imagine…
4 May 2001
“WHAT IS MAN WITHOUT THE BEASTS?”
What is man without the Beasts?
If the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit.
For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man.
All things are connected.
This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.
This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself”.
Chief Seattle’s Testimony, 1854
This story appeared in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Review today:
‘A Forest animal owner and the local community are outraged after Moo, the cow that thought she was a horse, was slaughtered in front of pub owner and diners last Sunday lunchtime. Moo’s owner, Lesley Wogan, was devastated. She had been desperately battling with MAFF officials to try to save her cow, which was in the paddock with a pregnant mare opposite the pub.
Eight MAFF officials just turned up and there was nothing that could be done. It was just killing for the sake of killing. Her views were echoed by pub landlord Brian Penkethman. His wife Yvonne watched in disbelief as the cow was killed by fatal injection and removed from the paddock dangling from a mobile crane in front of diners eating their lunches. People were in tears and they couldn’t eat their lunches. Mr Penkethman didn’t charge them. It was much worse than the loss of trade because Moo spent a great deal of time in the paddock beside the pub and was a pet to local children. She always came to the gate when they called her.
Mr Penkethman called MAFF the next day to tell them how upset he was, but they said they had to act quickly to avoid protesters. The horse and the cow used to even lie down together, so Mrs Wogan asked MAFF if they could wait to avoid upsetting the horse, but they went ahead and did it. She also asked for the cow to be tested for foot and mouth but they said it was too expensive.’
I was shocked to read this because I thought cattle were not going to be culled anymore.
Police have now closed the road in Carolyn Hoffe’s property. All the media have been ordered off the premises. A tape has been put across the road preventing access. Nobody is allowed to enter or leave the area. The Channel 5 cameramen, who yesterday were prohibited from leaving Carolyn Hoffe’s premises, are now being allowed to go. As Carolyn said, “apparently they are not in danger of spreading the disease today, although they were yesterday”.
The only people in her house now are Carolyn, and her mum and dad. She is being told that her sheep are a danger to other livestock in the locality. “Look around”, she said, “There is NOTHING left for them to infect. Everything is gone”. She added, “I can’t believe this society we’ve got”.
Bloody moronic Gestapo bastards!! (No apology for swearing). We still going to be calm, peaceful protestors?
Just let Blair call his election, and then we can all let fly at every candidate his party has. As for him, I suggest he is shot in the corner of a field and left to rot for a week and then burnt. His sidekick and fall guy Brown can be culled and dumped in a landfill site.
This is not an action to stop F&M, this is MAFF getting their own back because they lost over Phoenix. Bloody minded nasty little men that they are. I really do hope that it comes back to haunt the nasty little man who is leading them.
I’m with you both …… shared sentiments!
To shoot him is too fast.
A week in a field is not long enough …… Tower of London on the end of a pike staff.
Burning ……… would release too much nasty germs. How about throwing him to the sharks?
What a shit day!
To think I spent 12 years in the military defending this country …… ready to die for this country if required …… and what reward is this …… bloody police helping, bloody MAFFia break in to slaughter 5 healthy PET sheep …… that bloody Blair can suck up to these bastards in the EU – to whom we have signed over everything I fought for, that my Father fought for, and his Father before him …… ad infinitum.
This Government is a F*****g disgrace.
One really pissed off, angry ex-RAF officer.
Personally I am not a compensation animal and, as far as I am concerned, if they ever killed my stock incorrectly I will not be around to spend any more money. Her majesty will probably pick up my tab thereafter.
But I was told that the compensation figure for my boar, for instance, was something in the region of 4 times more than you would reasonably pay for him, assuming you were in the market for a boar, in an open market. Also, I have heard sheep being referred to as liquid gold.
One local big mouth was heard to boast in the boozer that he had recently placed an order for a Bentley to replace his Mercedes. It’s a bad attitude, and personally I hope his brakes fail on a cliff top. But is it any wonder with sweeteners like this, a majority of farmers are keeping schtum.
On a more realistic level, what can a young fellow do, he is bringing up a family and paying off an overdraft, he cannot sell anything; he has to feed everything, including the family.
5 May 2001
We are all in shock over the murder of Carolyn Hoffe’s pet sheep. As she said on the radio this morning – they were not just pet sheep they were her friends. They were living in her sitting room. From television pictures we could all see that, in spite of their size, they were gentle and friendly creatures.
Following one of the most perverse Court Judgements of all time, Carolyn was given leave to Appeal, but an immediate destruction order was issued. Within hours of the Judgement the police, accompanied by Army Personnel from the Ghurka regiments, broke into her home causing damage, and her healthy family pets were destroyed by a vet, willing to break the oath on qualification and employed by our Government. For such draconian action those unaware of the present situation in this country would ask the following questions:
Was Carolyn Hoffe a criminal? – NO
Was Carolyn Hoffe a terrorist? – NO
Was Carolyn Hoffe a spy? – NO
Had her animals seriously damaged a person or property? – NO
Were her animals dangerous? – NO
Was the Judge drunk? – Possibly
Had the vet broken a promise? – Certainly.
Why then did this happen?
Because Carolyn’s sheep might contract a mild disease.
Because they lived next door to a farm that might have this disease.
Because our Government dictates medieval measures rather than allow animal owners the freedom of choice to use proven ancient cures or vaccine available through modern medical science.
Because the EU Laws and Acts of Parliament protecting our Human and Civil rights and our citizens from 'cruel and unusual punishment’ count for nothing.
Because we put false hope and trust in New Labour and Tony Blair, who promised open Government, fairness and justice for all.
Because our Government has bent the Law to suit themselves with no regard for individual citizens.
Because we are fools and allowed this to happen.
When in shock we all tend to stay still, numbed with fear, unable to move. We feel sick and weakened, uncertain and bewildered. If we remain in that state we are doomed. I have to admit I have shaken with fear, wept with grief and still feel sickened by all the evil that has escalated the damage to this country in just a few short weeks.
I cannot afford to stay still and neither can you. We have to regain our freedom and reinstate our democratic rights and civil liberties. I urge you all to support those threatened who ask for help, and to write to Her Majesty, Tony Blair, your MP, the media and the press, both local and national. Let everyone be in no doubt that you deplore the actions of our Government. The killing of innocent animals has to stop.
Although Carolyn Hoffe lost her battle to save her animals, consider what she has achieved. Her clever and brave action of bringing her animals into her home caught our imagination and admiration. By her dignified stand, she has been able to bring the injustice, cruelty and madness of the mass slaughter policy, and the heartlessness of its killing machine, to national attention.
She has been able to expose the policy, and its brutal operators, in a very powerful manner. That is a very great achievement …… and a victory over the forces which have been ranged against her. She stood up for what was right, and she retained her quiet dignity throughout.
She is an inspiration. Respect to Carolyn.
Can you possibly use your contacts to find out exactly what the hell is now going on in North Devon please? Yesterday we tried to contact our vet about one of the ponies and were told by his practice that EVERY vet there had not been seen all day as they were out on farms, and that ministry men were swarming everywhere.
There is now zero information emanating from MAFF in Exeter.
Since 8 this morning we have heard something being shot every 30-40 seconds. It’s been going on for about 40 minutes. Isn’t this thing supposed to be under control and on the wane?
To the PM,
After last night in Dumfries and Galloway, the whole world is holding its breath to see what brutal insanity the British Government comes up with next in its shambolic response to the FMD outbreak. Millions of healthy animals have been sacrificed to save your blushes. Whole communities have been brought to their knees. Law and order has become a music hall turn.
I receive an average of 200 emails every day dealing with reports of cruelty and chicanery by MAFF and its circus, and they are not diminishing. You may win the election – by default. But make no mistake, history will judge this business and may decide that it has been the most bungled, dishonest and destructive episode in British life for several hundred years.
Life is rarely simple and straightforward, is it? I think one of the heartbreaking aspects of this nightmarish three months is the way that hope has gradually, inevitably leaked away from many farms. At first there was fear mixed with anxiety mixed with disbelief. Then came a growing feeling of loss of control, of being at the mercy of forces with unlimited power, and then the sight and sound and smell of death, and the awareness of a growing unease among the animals, as if their owners’ sense of helplessness had become transferred to them.
Each one of those owners has a different background, a different outlook, a different set of priorities, but among young and middle-aged and old alike there was a strong fine thread of gold that held many together. It was their intuitive belief that there was a relationship of trust between farmer and animal that must not be destroyed. This was something beyond financial measurement. It was priceless.
It made many determine to refuse to allow the slaughter of their healthy animals, and all expected to be able to use the law to protect their animals and themselves. But the machinery of power was gathering speed, oiled by the sense of its own impregnability and driven by its chosen fuel of Confine, Cull and Compensate. Days and weeks brought increasing stress to animals whose lives were becoming dangerously restricted; their owners’ lives too were being stretched to breaking point for the confinement was on them too.
Torture rarely breaks a man’s will because of its variety of pain; what breaks him, if he breaks at all, is the continuous probing of the same raw nerve.
To see one’s ewes stranded in mud and unable to bring them home to lamb; to see the ewes whose confinement meant that their pasture was so poor that when they gave birth they had no milk for their lambs; to see those lambs with jaws frozen with the cold so that they had to be wrapped in cloth and put in the oven to defrost their jaws so that they could be bottle-fed; to search for a ewe to adopt the lamb whose mother was too weak to feed her own.
The constant feeling of being unable to look after one’s animals as they should be cared for and the nagging doubt that lies at the edge of one’s mind: ‘Am I doing this for them or myself?”
Yet the farmer and his animals are really inseparable if he is a true farmer at heart. He cannot imagine life without them; without them he is nothing. Yet, day by day and week by week, farmers were told that their knowledge of what their animals needed was irrelevant. Tried and trusted treatments for FMD and preventative treatments too were not even considered by those in power. The word ‘vaccination’ was unthinkable because it might reduce the value of a sheep. Death was preferable; compensation would more than cover the sheep’s value; one can always rear more sheep.
The more one looks at the two sides of this confrontation, on one the farmers, on the other the suits, the clearer it becomes that there is no contest. The reality is that the sheep in the end faces slaughter. It is for that that the sheep is raised. How can the farmer, who has learnt to accept the death of his animals as inevitable, be taken seriously by those that have no contact with such animals except on a plate?
If only we had had from the beginning a small farm livestock farmer of imagination and sensitivity in charge of the situation, there would have been a totally different approach to the outbreak, however and why ever it happened. The main difference would have been that he would have had respect for the animals. Those in power in charge of decisions had no respect at all for the animals. They regard animals as so many farm products.
With this attitude, any treatment of animals is unthinkable. And that is why hope leaked away from so many. Not only were those in power ruthless, some farmers that tend to think as the powers-that-be think were equally ruthless and others less courageous than the ones that hoped and determined to protect their flocks from the cull, were resentful enough to endanger and compromise their neighbours’ flocks.
People behave badly or well, but most of us behave differently at different times. We need to understand even the barbaric notions of the cull and cull again brigade, because we have to change their way of thinking about livestock. There will be other outbreaks in the future. After 1967 people wrote wise words about measures to be taken, including vaccination. For the sake of the animals that we breed for our use we must create a climate of farm animals.
Farmers found guilty of neglect or mistreatment of animals should be banned from working with or owning animals. Only when we have a Minister whose primary function is the health and welfare of all livestock will we be able to ensure that the appalling events of the past three barbaric months are never repeated again.
The following is taken from “This Green and Unpleasant Land”, by Alistair McConnachie:
Leaving aside the fact that animals with a curable disease are being killed, and perfectly healthy animals are also being killed, it’s the case that many have been killed in conditions of chaos which are in flagrant abuse of the guidelines.
For example, we have been passed photographs of over 60 cattle killed with a rifle from the back of a moving pick-up at a specific farm in Cumbria. The bodies litter the fields and the tyre tracks are clearly visible round the animals’ bodies. It’s hard to believe these circumstances can possibly be legal. But then again, it’s hard to believe that any of this is happening, today, in our society.
THE LOCAL ECONOMY
The rural and tourist industries are losing billions because people are, understandably, scared to move. They don’t want to spread the disease. However, it is not the disease itself which scares people, but rather the draconian response of the authorities to the presence of the disease.
If we have a draconian slaughter policy we cannot expect people to feel comfortable moving about the countryside. If there were no death sentence there would be no fear of the disease, or of it spreading. If there were no slaughter there would be no scare. It would be just like any other livestock disease – which the public never hears about and doesn’t care about.
ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
The main fuel for the pyres is coal, and railway sleepers (containing oil and bitumen). The smoke plumes contain particles which can cause asthma and heart disease. They contain carcinogenic particles (PAHs, Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons) and carcinogenic dioxins, which are also hormone disrupters. The pyres are creating more pollution than all the factories in the UK, according to the Independent on Sunday, 22-4-01. Moreover, the burial of these animals risks polluting the soil, ground water, springs, rivers, reservoirs, coastal waters and our drinking water.
ABUSE OF STATE AUTHORITY
The abuse of authority affects us all. If the State can walk onto a farmer’s property and destroy his animals, his livelihood and his life’s work, then it can walk into your home and destroy whatever you care for. The State is engaged in a gross abuse of its authority.
ANTI-GLOBALISATION AND PRO-LOCALISATION
Many smaller farmers could be driven to the wall by this slaughter policy. The land could be taken over by bigger and bigger farms, or by agri-businesses, and by corporate interests. That raises issues around corporate control of the land and the food supply.
Anyone who wants to see a move to localisation, that is, local production for local consumption, could use this issue to highlight the risks of globalisation, such as the dangers of dependence on the export markets, and the problems of increasing corporate control of the land and food supply.
Anti-globalisation protestors could advocate the development of farmers’ markets, which can exploit domestic demand as an alternative to relying on the export markets.
OUR RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
One of the most concerning aspects of the slaughter policy is the restriction of movement which this policy demands, both voluntary and involuntary.
- Restrictions upon livestock movement mean animals are floundering in legally imposed conditions which would normally be regarded as cruel
- The D-notice restrictions severely inhibit people from moving around their own premises and the local area. The justification is to stop disease: where does that end? It is almost equivalent to Martial Law, even though there have been no emergency procedures passed in Parliament.
- Self-imposed restrictions are followed, to an extent, because we don’t want to be blamed for spreading the disease.
However, it’s not really the disease itself that we’re afraid of spreading, it’s the death sentence which is imposed on any animal with, or near, the disease. If there were no slaughter, then there would be no scare and we would all feel free to move normally again. The countryside would truly reopen for business.
Furthermore, if the virus is spread by humans, then that’s proof that we should not be slaughtering because, if it’s that easy to spread, then everything is going to end up dead – if we continue this slaughter policy.
TIME TO TAKE THE GAS MASKS OFF
Remember the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’? There’s a scene where a group of people is being held in the back of a van, which is travelling past Devil’s Tower Mountain in Wyoming. They’re all wearing gas masks because they’ve been told that the area has been infected with poison gas. Outside the van, the area is swarming with men in white suits and gas masks and guns. They’re disinfecting the area, turning back cars, and preventing access.
The lead character in the back of the van becomes suspicious. He pulls off his gas mask and takes a deep breath. In a second, he realises the air is clean, and there’s nothing to fear. The whole set-up is an elaborate hoax to prevent people from entering the area and finding out what’s actually happening around the mountain. So he bursts out of the van and makes his break for freedom.
Well, it’s time to take our gas masks off. It’s time we lost our fear of this disease. It’s time to face the facts, which are these: this is a disease from which almost all animals would recover; after recovery, the animals would be immune to that strain of the infection; there is no risk to human health from the disease itself; the meat is fit to eat; and vaccination can be used to hasten the end of the disease.
Therefore, the least we should be demanding is:
- an immediate stop to the slaughter of healthy animals
- vaccination to be made available
- a reassessment of the policy of killing animals with an illness from which almost all would recover anyway.
Thanks for writing and I wish you all the luck in the world with trying to get something published which can express the sorrow and shame of this hellish Spring 2001. I would be very happy for you to use anything I have written. Mostly I sit and read and often cry at the stories emerging and feel just as hopeless as anyone else. I will send you on some more bits and pieces if you like, which people have put in the local papers relating to our situation here in the Forest. Also, perhaps some photographs might help to illustrate our particular loss.
As you drive around the Forest in various places, people have made little tributes to our lost free-roaming sheep, which are really very touching and expressive of the general sense of loss in these parts. There are yellow ribbons tied around trees with bunches of daffodils and cards with messages of sorrow. Someone placed a beautiful wreath at the foot of a large oak near the sight of the mass slaughter in the heart of the Forest. The message on the card accompanying said, ‘RIP Forest sheep and lambs murdered in the name of Tourism’.
There is still a great deal of sadness and heartache and sense of loss. I haven’t heard the cuckoo this year. Usually I hear it around 24 April. Perhaps it too is sad and has decided not to come this year.
Here we have formed the Forest of Dean F&M Action Group and I personally have found great comfort in being involved. It helps to feel that I am doing something to actively prevent this obscene slaughter of healthy animals. Our efforts in blockading and peacefully protesting at local farms and smallholdings has caused MAFF to reassess 3 of the holdings concerned and downgrade their A notices to D notices. The plan in the Forest was to carry out culls on 36 holdings and then test the animals afterwards as an experiment to determine how the disease had spread in the FOD. Sadly 9 farms have been taken out but the others are asking for our help, so hopefully, if they stay disease free we can save them too.
We had an excellent public meeting with John Gouriet present and got the local head MAFF vet to admit that he was in favour of serological testing to establish infection, so we have taken a petition to Government to ask for a change in policy for the Forest. We are not holding our breath but hope that it will save more slaughter of healthy animals here. It is great to feel that you are able to DO something no matter how small.
Of course, I share your sorrow at the thought of more and more lost lives in the Exmoor area now. I just wish we could do more, and more people would listen. It took a while here to get people to listen and ask for help. The whole business makes me feel sick to the stomach. Healthy animals, pets, nothing seems to be safe from the MAFF killing machine. But we take cameras and video cameras and notebooks and ask for names and do our best to be as intimidating as MAFF.
They even tried the stunt of arresting one of our number on a charge of causing criminal damage to a MAFF vehicle and carted her off to Gloucester for 4 hours. I think nothing will come of that because there was a lot of press and TV crews about at the time, so I would think they will be on a loser there. We seem to be getting them rattled anyway, which is good news. They have been sending in vets to check the animals and check boundaries etc, so at least that is some progress for the “kill first – check after” policy. Trouble is I don’t much trust them, do you?
I was talking to a neighbour yesterday who runs an animal feeds business in Monmouth, and he was telling me that a big stockholder not far from Monmouth, who shut himself and his family off from the outside world at the start of this epidemic, has now been confirmed as having FMD. Now his children haven’t even been to school and no one has been in or out of the farm (except guess who)?
So if he is infected the only place it could have come from is MAFF vets checking his animals. What can you say?
7 May 2001
Of course there is an alternative to the mass slaughter policy
There are many ways to get from A to B, and just because you end up at B eventually, does not mean you went the quickest way, or the straightest way, or the most logical, human, economic, or scientific way. If the mass slaughter policy ends up eradicating the disease, for the time being, then it will be a Pyrrhic victory, which has been gained at too great a cost.
It will have been gained only after the most horrendous abuses of animal welfare, a paralysed countryside, a run-down local economy, the abuse of people’s right to their own private property and freedom of movement, and the creation of the most frightening environmental and health problems.
Juanita Wilson, at Mossburn Animal Centre, is making a principled stand against this cruel and abusive policy, and she should be supported by everyone who knows there is, and always has been, an alternative, everyone who values animal welfare and basic human rights, and everyone who never again wants to see the countryside subjected to this trauma.
Thanks again for the continuing messages. I too feel ashamed to be British (English) at the moment, as Carolyn (Hoffe) said on the Radio 4 news interview on ? Monday.
It brings to mind the ‘political definitions’ I learned at university:
Communism: you have two cows, the Government takes both, shoots
one and gives you the milk
Fascism: you have two cows, the Government takes both and shoots you.
Capitalism: you have two cows, you sell the milk and buy a bull.
There are other variations on this, it seems to me a new definition is required,
e.g. MAFFism: you have two cows, the government shoots both and imports milk and beef which you have to buy (something like that anyway).
As I am a cynic and believe in conspiracy theory, I am now wondering what MAFF and the Government are trying to achieve; the destruction of small scale traditional farming? Or is it a (not so) subtle exercise in people control to test how compliant the UK population is?
I enclose a letter I wrote at the beginning of March, our local paper printed it in full, the Daily Express missed out the personal comments:
Global trading is a fact.
Foot and Mouth Disease is already an epidemic
The wanton destruction, mass killing and burning is reminiscent of the holocaust, both have been featured prominently in the last weeks newspapers. This behaviour does not belong in a humane and so called civilised world.
Blair is fiddling with an early election while Britain’s heritage burns.
How very convenient to have the election while the countryside is crippled, hiding the fact that Britain can no longer protect, clothe or feed itself.
How very convenient to get rid of the bothersome livestock farms living on subsidies so that Joe Public can have complete freedom to roam.
How very convenient to conceal the systematic destruction of the UK so as to be more dependent than ever as an offshore island of mainland Europe.
How very convenient to have an election before the people wake up to see what a personally privileged despot we have elected as leader.
Britain led Europe into this mass slaughter policy but does anyone have the guts to admit this is wrong and to lead the way out of it?
8 May 2001
We solved the problem, the MAFFia amount which was a recalculation of our Countryside Stewardship payments, underpaid for several years, came to almost £225, so £100 to Juanita, £100 to Freedom-in-Action and £25 to the Welsh Farmer.
We think it is cynically funny that MAFFia money should go to fight the bastards. It leaves our funds with something else to help when we have given it a little thought.
Letter to TB:
Today in Suffolk it was a perfect Spring scene, the blossom is hanging heavy on the cherry trees, the primroses and violets abound, in the field the lambs are playing ‘king o’ the castle’ on the old oak tree stump, just as they do every year. This has always been my favourite time. Not any more.
I am seeing it all now through a haze of blood and tears. I will never to able to feel that joy again, each new Spring will be filled with the memories of carnage and cruelty, of terrified animals, burning and rotting bodies, and tiny lambs dying in the mud. I will never forgive you for the evil you have unleashed on my country. And the shame you have brought on us in the eyes of the world.
YOU AND US TOGETHER
Over the last few weeks I have read some very complimentary (and somewhat embarrassing) comments about ‘incredible people’ and what I am doing here at Blackfordby and other people are doing around the country.
Thank you all for your comments, support and sentiments - BUT LET’S GET SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY CLEAR - it is all of YOU that are the wonderful ‘incredible people’, for without YOU we are nothing. YOU have inspired me and many others in my position throughout the country to ‘stand up and be counted’. I could never have done it without YOU.
Many people have asked if I am nervous, scared or even just plain frightened witless – well, of course I am, but it is YOU who give me the courage to continue. Without YOU I am just a plain ordinary coward who would never in a million years have stood up to the might of the state.
When I don’t sleep - I think of YOU.
When I find myself being intimidated - I think of YOU.
When I am forced to find extra strength of purpose - I dig down to the depths and find that YOU are there to give me that extra strength.
When MAFF put me on the emotional ‘roller coaster’ and I feel sick with the mental torture - I hang on for grim death and see the ride through to the end because I know YOU would not get off - so neither will I!
When it is all over and we have won a memorable victory - it will be down to YOU - ALL.
I think YOU are wonderful and I hope you have got this message - WITHOUT YOU I AM NOTHING - and I am sure I speak for everyone else taking part at the sharp end.
10 May 2001
Excerpt from The Times article by Magnus Linklater:
Ten years ago, a rousing song was composed to celebrate the centenary of the Cheviot Sheep Society. Its last lines run:
So charge up your glasses
Stand up and drink deep
To the next hundred years
And the Cheviot sheep
I wonder if we will ever hear it sung again.
FREEDOM IN ACTION
“Men have sometimes been led by degrees, sometimes hurried into things, of which, if they could have seen the whole together, they would never have permitted the most remote approach. The people never give up their liberties except under some delusion” –
Edmund Burke c. 1790
From: John Gouriet
BATTLE OF MOSSBURN
This afternoon the Court of Session in Edinburgh duly recorded its most perverse and irrational verdict in the long running struggle to save healthy stock from unnecessary slaughter by MAFF. It is clear that the Judiciary have betrayed their duty to uphold the law fairly and impartially on behalf of all, including the rights of private citizens in favour of government policy however ill conceived, misdirected and contrary to public interest.
In the latest case, Mrs Juanita Wilson, owner of Mossburn Animal Centre near Lockerbie in the Borders, despite being entirely free from any clinical signs of FMD for seven weeks after the last case of FMD within a 3km zone, and twice tested in March, was suddenly told on 2 May at 8.15pm that MAFF were coming to cull her animals the following day. There are no other animals anywhere near her property, except some healthy heifers 500 yards away. Her animals are sheltered, treated with Borax and Biolitan and pose no risk to any other livestock whatsoever.
Mrs Wilson had, however, organised a very successful public meeting at Lockerbie on 30 April, attended by 200 people, at which MAFF was sharply and justifiably criticised by Dr Richard North, an epidemiologist and food safety expert working in Brussels, and Mr John Gouriet, co-ordinator of legal resistance to the cull of healthy stock. Next day, 1 May, Mrs Wilson drove Mr Gouriet to a farm north of Dumfries to try to prevent the cull of a healthy flock of unique Brayland sheep.
It was surely no coincidence therefore that Mrs Wilson received that fateful call late on 2 May. This MAFF attack without clinical rhyme or reason is obviously mean, vindictive and entirely spiteful reprisal which the Court in Edinburgh had no business to condone. An immediate appeal is under way. This is in direct contrast to the Dulverton outcome. But MAFF intend to form a sheep-free buffer between Scotland and England to regain export status sooner for Scotland and are mercilessly pursuing the scorched earth policy from the Solway to Berwick.
Meanwhile the senior MAFF vet in Dumfries is the subject of a formal complaint to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons with an urgent request for her to be suspended for professional misconduct in at least one other case as well as criminal proceedings against MAFF and the Dumfrieshire Constabulary.
It is indeed a dark day for individual freedom and democracy when a private citizen is denied a remedy and protection against an over-mighty and dictatorial government. We now live in a Police state backed by the courts. Democracy perished this afternoon in Scotland on the field of Mossburn.
13 May 2001
Have you all seen the article, in the Telegraph, ‘Scottish cull for cash illegal’. It gives the reason that Scotland is being particularly ruthless in its cull - is because the Scottish Executive have done a deal with the EU in that if they can get an animal free corridor on the English border they can regain their precious ‘disease free status’ sooner than England and Wales.
As a consequence the farmers are queuing up to get their healthy animals slaughtered for large compensation payments before ploughing up their land for large subsidy cheques for growing barley.
The paper goes on to say “What is odd however, is that under the Animal Health Act 1981, vets have no power to slaughter healthy animals, except as a measure to protect the health of other animals. They have no right to kill just for economic reasons. What the Scottish Executive is up to appears to be illegal, but since the EU approves, doubtless Mr Blair and Nick Brown will raise no objection.”
If it is true it is another monstrous indictment of the EU and current attitudes to farm animals as nothing more than commodities. We are all belittled by this attitude. I would also say this explains their intention to cull the sanctuaries at all costs! There is no doubt that the Scottish Executive and MAFF are acting illegally, but who is going to prosecute them?
I think it is depressing that farmers are jumping onto this bandwagon so happily. However if they value their animals so little, perhaps they are better out of livestock farming!! I agree with ‘pigswithstyle’ that there is a vast difference between different types of farmers. The division is not based on the size of the enterprise, but on the attitude of the farmers concerned towards their stock. There does need to be an organisation with teeth that can speak.
14 May 2001
THE SAD STORY OF MR. P AND HIS SHEEP
I managed to speak to Mr P today. He told me the whole long story, which started off with them coming to kill the pigs which were being fattened on his farm, because the man who actually owned them either had F&M at his place, or had been somewhere where they had it (I am not quite clear here). Anyway, MAFF told Mr P that the pigs must be killed; then, the bullocks in the shed. They came back later and killed his cows and calves, and then days later, came and killed all his point of lay pullets.
Later still, they came and killed his sheep – it was no doubt a typical cock-up, because 3 or 4 of them escaped into his neighbours field with their sheep (which were, incidentally, not killed) – they got them back and shot them (I think a couple of days later), but one escaped.
That all took place over a little while – and then, much later, the missing ewe appeared with a lamb. Mr P decided to keep them and said that they gave him a bit of hope – and lots of people in the village remarked to him how lovely it was seeing them in the empty field.
Then the MAFF vet noticed them in the field and Mr P was told that they would have to be slaughtered. He said no, it was five weeks since all the other animals had gone and he wasn’t prepared to have these killed without a blood test, which MAFF refused to do. When they came round to his farm, he wouldn’t let them in.
It was then time for him to collect his youngest grandchild from school and the vet said that he wouldn’t do anything for now. When Mr P returned from school, he found they had killed the sheep and they were just taking them away – and the vet had already gone. At no time did Mr P sign anything or agree to this.
He is deeply upset about this and very angry. He is a gentle man, who agreed to all the other animals being killed without any complaint, because he thought it was for the good of his neighbours (how many times have we heard that before)? He is upset because they wouldn’t agree to a blood test – and simply furious that they went behind his back in that way and just murdered his animals. He also said the main MAFF vet who dealt with most of his animals was a very unsympathetic and unpleasant woman who seemed to enjoy her power.
He is 60 years old and said he must re-stock again, because he’s got to earn a living, but says his whole heart has gone out of it now. He is a very nice, patient man and I would dearly love to do something to help him.
MAY 14th – PROTESTER SLAMS ‘EVIL’ PM FOR EARLY ELECTION
A leading countryside campaigner has slammed Tony Blair as ‘evil’ for calling the general election before F&M was completely eradicated. Robin Page, director of the Countryside Restoration Trust, was in Keswick for a special tribute to the millions of animals slaughtered because of F&M.
He told a packed studio at the Theatre by the Lake that it was obscene for the government to hold an election now. “Tony Blair says the countryside is open, so I thought I would come and see it“, he said. “Tony Blair says F&M is under control, so I thought I would come and see that. He says there are tourist attractions, so I thought I would come and see those. And do you know, when I arrived in Threlkeld yesterday I saw a tourist attraction. I saw men in white coats. I saw a pile of 600 dead sheep. I saw Tony Blair’s open countryside. I saw his ‘under control’. I saw his tourist attraction. And I thought ‘that man is evil’”.
He said the Government should have vaccinated from the start of the crisis to stop it getting so out of hand. His remarks brought cheers from the audience at what proved to be a highly charged and emotional event. Organised by Wigton-based group SAD (Stop Animal Deaths) – who have campaigned against the cull of animals since the start of the outbreak – to raise money for Knoxwood Animal Sanctuary, the hour-long tribute featured poetry and songs about the countryside. Farmer’s wife Jan Kerr – who lost all her animals to the disease – was so choked with emotion she could not finish her reading of William Blake’s The Lamb.
Afterwards, she said, “We have lost all our lambs – some of which were on the rare breeds critical list. There are only 250 breeding ewes in the country and I had six. Now George Scott at Knoxwood has the only living animal we have bred. If Tony Blair had pulled his finger out earlier we might have avoided this”.
A moment’s silence was observed as people held up signs in the shape of animals bearing messages such as “Shot by a trainee”, “Head bashed against a wall”, and “Cumbrian clearance”.
Carlisle singing star, Guiseppe Delaglia, was on hand to sing tracks from the CD he produced to raise money for the farmers. But the biggest round of applause was reserved for Robin Page, who said, “We have seen real tears here, but I have confidence in the countryside people that they will fight to get sanity back into farming, that they will continue to fight for a living, working community in a living, working countryside”.
15 May 2001
I thought the following would be of interest to all of you. Firstly, a letter from a soldier serving with the Green Howards, who assisted with the slaughter operation in the Worcester area and second, a compilation of statements made by people who have assisted on farms and at the killing grounds in Powys:
“We were briefed that we’d be ‘clearing up’ – burning and/or burying carcasses of animals humanely destroyed by trained vets and slaughtermen. But that all turned out to be more spin and propaganda. What we’re actually doing is ‘mopping up’ – killing animals they’ve left behind or can’t be bothered to finish off.
My regiment has got all sorts of battle honours for fighting Britain’s enemies all over the world, but we’re now engaged in heroic hand-to-hand combat with lambs. Their mothers have been shot but some were so frightened by the noise that they escaped all over the place. As we don’t have any humane killers, the cleanest way of killing them is just to throw them in the river. We might be trained to kill enemy soldiers, but slitting the throat of a spring lamb, or beating its brains out with a blunt instrument, is just too much for some of the lads, so they’d rather drown them, even if it’s not really as quick.
One of my mates was detailed to stand by a pig which was giving birth. As each piglet was born and crawled away he had to smash it with the back of a shovel. Once they’d all been born the pig was shot with all the others.
The worst of all are the cows that have been shot but not finished off by the slaughtermen. Some are still crawling around, others are clearly still alive but unable to move. We have to beat them to death with lorry spanners or other heavy lumps of iron. If people really knew what was going on, I think there’d be a revolution.
All the animals I’ve seen appeared to be quite healthy. The MAFF people say it’s the only thing that can be done, but if you ask them why they can’t vaccinate, they all come up with different reasons, none of which sound very convincing.
Please publicise this. The more people know what a mess this is, the sooner we can stop being unarmed slaughtermen and go back to being proper soldiers”.
“They had to get the lads from the farms in to help out, because the digger drivers were just throwing up all the time because of the smell” -
“There were grown men running around crying because of the animals – all the small lambs and calves” -
“Lots of the sheep and a few of the cattle were heavily pregnant and as they were shot they gave birth and we had to go in and kill the calves and lambs”
“Some of the animals were still alive in the lorries carrying corpses, they must have been stunned and come round” -
“Lots of the sheep were very stressed out when they were driven out of the lorries – some of the very pregnant ewes were really bad” -
“A mate of mine said there were live sheep trying to get out of the burial pit when they’d all be tipped in as dead bodies” -
Can this be right? Does any crisis, let alone a mild virus, justify this barbaric mindless culling?
16 May 2001
So our Government is pleased with the way it has handled the foot and mouth crisis? If I were Tony Blair, Nick Brown or anyone else involved in this fiasco I would be cringing with embarrassment by now and begging for forgiveness. How can they have got it so wrong? Three million animals officially killed, plus the rest that never make the statistics – would a total of five million be too conservative? How many thousands of farmers and smallholders will have lost their entire stock by the time it’s finally over?
The tales of healthy animals being slaughtered, intimidation, threats and bungled killings don’t make any better reading either. Nor do the images of burning pyres and rotting bodies.
How can the Government have been so inept and let the situation get totally out of hand when vaccination would have saved so much animal and human suffering. Yes, I know there are arguments against it, and nobody could have imagined when it started that things could get so bad. But has there ever been a time when it was too late to say, “we’ve made a mistake, let’s change the policy and vaccinate”?
As I write this no doubt somebody in Cumbria is having their infected cattle culled several weeks after their sheep were wiped out. Even the Government admitted there were risks sending over-wintering cattle out into the fields unprotected, but nothing was done!
As for losing Britain’s FMD free status, would it have been such a disaster? Something doesn’t add up if farmers can make more money sending sheep halfway across the Continent than selling them at home. And if we produce such a surplus, why all the imports of meat? I for one would have celebrated an end to live animal exports!
I know the above has all been said before, but the man on the street is starting to forget it’s still happening, and too many people are pressing for a return to ‘normal’ in time for the Bank Holiday, and more important – the election. I miss walks in the Peak District, but I don’t want footpaths opened up again only for there to be more outbreaks in tourist areas, and yet more slaughter.
EARLY WARNING – FROM A READER
I heard this morning from a patient that the army are booked into a hotel in Keswick next week with car parking spaces reserved for jeeps. Does this mean that the government are now tracking foot and mouth with the aid of a crystal ball? Or, as may be the case, perhaps the culling of central Lakes sheep starts next week. Goodbye hefted sheep. Bye, bye farming in Cumbria as we know it!
This is definitely not a rumour and unfortunately, I’m unable to give names for specific details. I’ve let somebody know locally who sounds equally as stressed as yourself, having taken up the fight for the farmers and their animals in Cumbria, and hopefully she and her husband can alert farmers in the area. If I knew enough people and had enough official weight I’d do it myself, but I don’t and so this is the only way I know of using this information to try to halt this disgusting sacrifice of animals’ lives and destruction of rural businesses.
It seems to me that the idea is to completely clear the whole of Cumbria and Devon of livestock, leave the whole thing officially for the requisite 6 months, and then re-stock with either employed government farmers or just make it plain difficult to re-stock in any great number. Whatever, farmers are now facing the second wave of killing and slaughtering as their cattle go under and contiguous culling continues.
MAFF is happily massaging the daily figures which, unless you lived amongst the worst hit areas, you might believe to be true. In fact, with the general election under way, you would think it’s all over. Every day I hear at least one distressing story. This hasn’t gone away. The whole thing stinks.
Foxfield, South Cumbria
From the Foxfield article in the North West Evening Mail:
‘Nothing could have prepared Mr Brown and the other vets for the grim task that awaited – to give anxious farmers the news they dread, namely that disease has struck their farm. He said, “My partner had done the 1967 outbreak which was before my time and told me what to expect. In those days they would do 60 animals in a herd. The first one I did was 600 cattle and 3,000 sheep”.
The first one in the area was Black Hall Farm, Seathwaite, Duddon Valley, Broughton-in-Furness. According to local radio the sheep were Herdwicks whose bloodline stretched back 600 years – they had belonged to the monks at Furness Abbey. There are now none left of this bloodline.
According to a distraught eyewitness on a radio phone-in programme, the cull was the now familiar scene of blood running down the road and crows in attendance.
17 May 2001
THE KILLING HAS GOT TO STOP
The culling just goes on and on. Devon, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway all deserts. Now the Maffia seem intent on doing the same to the South Lakes, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Durham and Powys. If Lancashire, Hereford, Worcester, Gloucester and Somerset bubble up they’ll do the same to them too.
If Scudamore was man enough, he’d stop the cull, RESIGN and drop Blair in the shit. The whole thing is total insanity and it’s totally inhuman. Whilst the election is on, the whole thing is like a runaway train with nobody making decisions; which suits the killers – business as usual. Britain is being run by slaughtermen.
No doubt in England and Wales, if farmers due to be culled can withstand the intimidation and get MAFF to the court steps, they will back down every time. This is on too small a scale – it’s not saving enough animals. Who is going to stop this thing? Yes, the group has made inroads. Yes, the farmers in the fuel protests have formed hit squads to help those being intimidated. The runaway train has got to be de-railed before the election, otherwise Herr Hitler Blair and Herr Flick Campbell will have the mandate to do what the hell they like.
All the major national newspapers and TV news channels that trawl through smartgroup, I issue YOU all with a challenge – AFTER MISINFORMING ABOUT FMD, WHICH OF YOU IS NOW BIG ENOUGH TO STOP THE SLAUGHTER WHICH IS STILL KILLING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF ANIMALS EVERY DAY AND SAVE WHAT IS LEFT BY PROMOTING VACCINATION?
18 May 2001
More horror in Devon courtesy of MAFF:
WHY MY HEART WAS BREAKING, by Chris Rundle
(Western Daily Press May 18, 2001):
It took 25 shots to kill five cattle, and Bill Norman is wondering why more people are not upset about it. Twenty-five shots, each counted by the villagers in Knowstone, against a chorus of agonised bellowing as wounded animals tried to escape from the white-coated slaughter team. And that was only the start.
As the bullocks stampeded across neighbouring fields, they turned what was supposed to be a clinical operation to deal with Devon’s 164th foot and mouth outbreak, into a three-day fiasco. It saw marksmen stalking frightened animals across the North Devon countryside before finishing them off, not always cleanly. The weapons they used were shotguns, firing cartridges fitted with a single, round shot. But with no rifling in the barrel or on the projectile, the speed of the shot and the killing range were limited. And with spooked, stampeding cattle, mistakes were inevitable.
On Tuesday, villagers looked down on the killing grounds to see one bullock go down twice and get up again before a third shot finished it off. Another was hit in the spine, losing the use of its back legs; it was left pitifully trying to raise itself on its front pair for five minutes until the slaughtermen returned to dispatch it.
It was not until Wednesday that a stalker, who normally shoots deer for the National Trust on its Holnicote Estate, located and shot the last of John Stanbury’s cattle neat the Jubilee Inn, a mile away to the North, close to the old A361. And by that time they had brought in searchlights to help them load up the other carcasses and cart them away under cover of darkness. “That”, says Bill, “was so that no one would see the bullet holes”.
Even by the standards of MAFFs brutal, ruthless cull of foot and mouth victims, the Knowstone episode was extraordinary. And for Bill Norman it has changed forever the character of the tiny village.
There is a feeling of timelessness about Knowstone’s main street of whitewashed cottages. One family has been in the same local farm since 1540. The Masons’ Arms has been dispensing ale and a warm welcome for 300 years longer. Change, if it ever happens, normally occurs only as fast as local people want it to. Even when they carved the North Devon link road through the moors a mile to the South to allow the holiday traffic to thunder over to Barnstaple, Knowstone was barely interested.
In Knowstone, they call Bill the mayor. He is in fact chairman of the parish council and still, he says, regarded as an incomer, even though he moved from Combe Martin, just 30 miles to the North, 52 years ago. He came with some of his father’s dairy cattle and has maintained a closed herd since then, though it’s his daughter Annie, who now manages them on Wadham Farm.
Life for Bill, like all dairy farmers, has been tough over the past few years, certainly far tougher than it was in the days when Wadham Farm’s income could endow Oxford’s Wadham College. But nothing could have prepared him for the events of the past week. “It has been total confusion and it still is” he said. “The Army doesn’t know what MAFF is doing and MAFF doesn’t know what the Army is doing. No one seems to be in charge. But to see the killings happening like that in the fields below the village was just awful. We have had teenagers in tears, we have had everyone up in arms, but trying to get any answers from the ministry is impossible. They have just shut up shop”.
Bill, like the other villagers, is determined to get answers, however long it takes, though at the moment his immediate concern is for his own animals, which may soon be caught up in the fall-out from the Knowstone outbreak. He added, “but funnily enough the effect of this has been to pull us all together. Now we are really all in this together, and we’re all fighting it together. It’s us against them”.
Yesterday the cock-ups were still happening. A ministry team arrived at Les Winslade’s farm to start cleaning up after his pedigree cattle were shot. But the cattle were still very much alive, barricaded in the farm with their owner, who has now decided to mount a legal challenge to threaten the cull.
20 May 2001
SLAUGHTER FIGURES REACH A NEW HIGH
On Thursday when apparently we had no new cases (and you cannot believe that), they killed 79,000 livestock. This compares with 33,000 per day at the peak of the epidemic. A MINDLESS BLOODBATH.
With Anne’s vet’s concern, we have to get this into the national press. There are lots of good people out there doing the best they can, but we need a united co-ordinated approach. We have tapped a raw nerve, but are unable to get this across to the media. The whitewash of both Donaldson’s and Kitchen’s article and TV interviews. These two are two of the most respected FMD experts in the world. Both the Government and the media have ignored them.
Once again we see we are surrounded by what can only be described as GUTLESS VETS who have not got the integrity or the courage to stand up and be counted. It is time that the legal profession woke up to the fact that the law is being broken and challenges MAFF in the courts. A test case is required to get them to back down on this evil disgusting policy, as the majority of the culls have been unnecessary and are unlawful.
If Donaldson, Kitchen and Bostock (all from IAH) are correct, that contiguous culls should be at 200mts at the maximum, and this virus is not spread on the wind, how did it get to South Lakes, Carnforth, and now Settle? Has it been transferred by unscrupulous farmers, or dare I say, MAFF, or is this just fantasy?
At present we are blood-testing sheep across Lancashire with a lot of overseas vets. What an opportunity for the virus to spread even farther. Bet even MAFF are too bloody thick to think of that one, or are they? If this flares up again, the Government has already got the spin in position – NFU did not want vaccination; from June the 1st the shearers will be able to work, so they can carry virus from farm to farm; all the movements of animals that has been allowed in D restricted areas; the list is endless.
But, as stated earlier in the week, just do your sums on the MAFF Website and we should be having 10 to 16 cases a day, and we probably are, but recorded as SOS’s. I have no doubt that Prof King and Anderson have got a plausible answer for the British public. I cannot believe that the farmers and Gill are unable to see what is happening. Blair has been very clever and is going to get what they want - a 25% reduction in British farming and destroying the tourist industry at the same time. Oh, to be BRITISH!!!!!!!
I was asking the MAFF vet who came to inspect my animals on Saturday, when he thought we would be able to cull some of our older cows – because we are fast running out of food and cannot afford to carry animals that have come to the end of their productivity. For those of you who do not know, cattle over 30 months of age are still not allowed into the food chain due to BSE restrictions. They are (were) transported to abattoirs, slaughtered in the usual way and the carcases are then sent to a renderer. Now we get to the point. The ONLY reason we cannot sell our old cows is because the renderers are still flat out rendering FMD carcases and will be until the middle or end of July was the estimate. So there must be a lot of slaughtering expected if it is going to take up all the rendering capacity for another 2 months. Does anyone know what the UK’s rendering capacity is?
Meanwhile, the situation on many farms is critical. I have animals calving away from home and MAFF won’t let me bring them home to milk. There are 25 in-calf heifers in the 4-acre field by the buildings of another farm, which didn’t look too happy when the floods arrived the other day. We have to take a mixer wagon and a loader tractor down every other day – equipment which is amongst the animals at home and then has to travel back and forth due to MAFF restrictions. More chance of spreading disease as I continually go past two neighbours than one journey home with the heifers? Leaving heifers to calve away from home and then not being able to milk them is now beginning to drag me down – mentally – as is watching fodder disappear rapidly because I cannot get animals off to grass keep.
I have continued milking some of the old cows, but I think they are spreading mastitis through the herd – so I have had to dry some of them off and feed them straw and not much else. It is hurting me, because they know and I know they would prefer to eat the grass on the other side of the electric fence. Now the straw is running out and I think MAFF burnt most of the reserve supplies, so I don’t know what I am going to do in a couple of weeks. There are so many problems. I have applied for the Welfare Disposal Scheme, but am told that not having any food is not a reason (MAFF will give you telephone numbers for fodder) – neither is not having any money to buy fodder (MAFF will shoot your animals and not charge you for removing them).
21 May 2001
THE 8 MILLION DEAD AND RISING –
I have just received a telephone call from John Gouriet, who has just told me that, although the official slaughter figures published by MAFF add up to 4 to 6 million animals culled, these figures are not accurate as they do not include ‘Contiguous’ and ‘Slaughter on Suspicion’ cases. He has told me that MAFF themselves estimate the figure to be eight (8) million and rising. Of course, unborn lambs and piglets are not included.
22 May 2001
EXCERPT FROM AN ARTICLE IN ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH
One farmer and his family were “devastated” yesterday after losing their entire livestock in a new outbreak of foot and mouth disease. More than 650 sheep, 1,000 lambs and 150 cattle were culled at Dykelands Farm, near Malham, in the Yorkshire Dales, where it has spread to other farms. Paul Bolland, the fifth generation of his family on the 300-acre farm said, “Fifteen years breeding pedigree blue-faced Leicesters have been lost in a single night when the ministry culled our flock”.
“It has meant heartbreak for my wife, Janet, and our four children. Even Hannah, our youngest, who is just five years old, was in tears. We may be getting compensation, but that cannot replace the investment and the work we have put into this flock”. Mr Bolland added “I still get up at 5.30 to milk cows I no longer have. It is eerie. No sounds at all in the dale, nothing from sheep or cattle. Only the birds”.
Judith Huyton, a dairy farmer running Bolton Peel Farm, in Bolton by Bowland, Lancs, with her husband, Colin, said “The disease has been sweeping down the Ribble Valley over the past 10 days, but the outside world seems largely unaware of it. The crisis is being swept under the carpet now that the general election is under way. Visitors from outside just can’t believe that we have a serious problem in this area. They think it is all under control, but it isn’t”.
It seems that the animals that MAFF don’t kill in one way they kill in another:
SERIOUS ANIMAL WELFARE TROUBLES
LANDOWNERS in Cumbria say there are still huge problems of animal welfare not being dealt with. The Country Land and Business Association says the situation is pushing farmers closer to breaking point.
In Cumbria, CLA deputy regional director Sue Harrison said “In our county, many farmsteads are on one side of the road and the grazing land is on the other. Farmers are desperate to turn out their cattle on to flourishing grassland from over-heated barns, but without a movement licence they are trapped on the wrong side of the road. Yet it seems the divisional veterinary office at Carlisle is overburdened and cannot even consider these applications. The potential for respiratory disease outbreak is terrifying”.
Farmers around the country who have been prosecuted for illegal movement have been so desperate to give their animals somewhere to feed they were prepared to take the risk and break the ban.
Fellow CLA member Judith Matthews said: “The stock are starving where they stand. One farmer went to feed his animals and found 18 ewes were dead along with nine lambs. The unnecessary depression and anxiety this is causing is overwhelming farmers and the Government seems to be doing nothing to offer help”.
24 May 2001
GOVERNMENT BANS IMPORTED MEAT – BUT STING IN THE TAIL!
At last, the Government has banned all beef imports from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. In the past two weeks Brazil alone has had 5 new outbreaks that we know of. Unfortunately, there is a very nasty sting in the tail in that the Ministry of Defence, which sources over a third of its beef for the armed forces from Brazil, Uruguay and Australia, has said it would compensate for the Brazilian ban by buying in more beef from Australia, New Zealand and a “small amount” from Britain.
This is a disgrace – would any other country turn its back on its own producers, especially in a time of crisis? We don’t think so. As we discovered when we met with officials in Brussels in March, the Government has been hiding behind a European ruling that clearly states – if imported meat is not produced to the same standards as our own, the MOD can buy British.
As an example of standards in New Zealand in particular, dairy cows (the cute jersey cows used to advertise New Zealand Anchor butter, seen gambling around in green pastures) have a very different life to the one that is portrayed by the adverts. They have their tails docked, usually without anaesthetic; unwanted calves are either shot or just banged on the head (they are not even worth the cost of using a bullet) and piled up on the nearest highway for collection, which can take over a week (albeit, a bit quicker than this country regarding carcass disposal!).
Why, time and time again, does our Government sell our industries down the river, mining, shipbuilding, steel production (in the recent replacement of rail track, it was found that the British made track had far outlasted the imported track) and now our farming industry? With an election coming up, we can to some degree be masters of our own destiny. Tony Blair and his cronies are so far removed from reality, we urge everybody to use your vote on June 7 and let’s get our wonderful country back in our hands.
Important message to Cumbria & Devon – we have heard from a reliable source that on 8 June MAFF will be visiting these two counties in greater force to carry out a further culling programme.
Thank you. When you have been involved as we have for the past three months, watching your County die in front of you it tears the guts out of you. Every time I see the white suited brigade by the side of another poor bastards farm the hairs rise on the back of my neck! It sickens me more than anything you can imagine.
The cruelty to both animals and humans here has been extreme, make no doubt about it and sadly many people have said openly to me that I have changed! You’re damn right! I have! How could anyone not have changed? So have many others. Blair will pay, believe me! I promise you!
25 May 2001
WE ASK THE SAME QUESTION THAT IS ON EVERYONE’S LIPS – WHY?
WHAT HAS BEEN GAINED BY KILLING THESE CATTLE?
I felt heartbroken when I heard what had happened. Only the day before, Mr Winslade had said that the thought of his pride and joy, two healthy sets of twin calves born six weeks ago, being slaughtered because of an extremely narrow theoretical risk of them contracting foot and mouth, filled him with anger. “For the first time in 54 years of farming I have two sets of twins which have survived”, he said, “there’s always a strong one and a weak one, but this time both the weaker calves have survived. I had two sets of twins once before, but they died. The compensation money is all very well, but I’d hate to see the little calves killed”.
He went on to say, “If I were a hard-headed business man, I’d probably be letting the slaughtermen go ahead and taking compensation. But I’m not. I’m a farmer. I had two sets of twin calves this year and I struggled to keep them alive, and I look at them and I think, why should I let these people kill them when they haven’t even had a life?”
Nearest farm with remaining stock is more than half a mile away, Les did his best – forked out £1500 in legal costs – but, in the end, his wife was ill with worry and he gave in under pressure.
I went out into the garden earlier tonight. It was a warm evening, full of singing birds and the lovely scent of lilac – and I sat down on the grass and cried my eyes out. It is impossible to really enjoy this beautiful spring when I know what is happening to people and animals in other places. I feel so sorry that I cannot do more.
Report e-mailed about what happened at the Winslade’s farm:
We seem to have overcome the computer glitch that prevented us from including Matt Knight’s account of the Beech Grove Farm stand-off. Here now is what he told us over the telephone late on Wednesday evening.
He arrived at the farm around midnight, meeting a few close relatives of the Winslades at the farm barricade. After a brief sleep in their vehicles, they were on watch from 4 am. A police car looked in around 5.30 am, presumably to assess the situation and found six protestors in position. At 9.30 am the police returned, accompanied by two valuers, to find around 20 protestors gathered. The valuers were challenged to read and sign a declaration that they would accept individual responsibility for their actions etc., but refused, so they were denied access and left.
The protestors felled two good-sized trees across the farm lane to prevent vehicle access, and also positioned several of their number hiding in the hedges of the fields as a defence against possible surprise entry and slaughter in the open, ie rifles could not be used with protestors in the firing zone. They also had to try and watch a rear entrance to the farm, so were thinly spread, with around 20 people present at any one time.
At midday, a convoy of police vehicles arrived at the front barricade to disgorge a heavy police presence of 30 officers clad in protective gear, i.e. flak jackets, padded trousers etc. These enforced an entry for the valuers, plus other MAFF officials who walked the farm lane to confront the Winslades in their home. There followed an afternoon of negotiation – Matt described it as bullying – during which it was made clear to the Winslades that if they insisted on going to appeal against the court injunction, they would be liable for legal costs of thirty to forty thousand pounds if the case was lost.
John Gouriet, of Freedom for Action, was present to support family with legal advice during this confrontation. However, in the end Mr Winslade decided that his wife could not stand this pressure any longer and signed the valuation form giving permission for slaughter. The cattle were rounded up from the fields and slaughter took place from 6 pm that evening.
There was an average of 20 protestors present through the day, perhaps 40 people involved all told as some left and others arrived. Three of the Winslades’ daughters and a son were there to support their parents. There was a strong press and TV presence throughout of 10 to 15 people. Matt confirmed that the cattle looked very well indeed with no hint of any disease; in fact they had been inspected late on the Tuesday by a ministry vet and found healthy. We ask the same question that is on everyone’s lips – why? What has been gained by killing these cattle?
Thank you for your efforts, Matt, and thanks to all who turned up to protest. This case has been lost, but the huge publicity generated by it may have far-reaching effects. The Weston Morning News in particular has given front-page coverage to the story as part of their on-going campaign on FMD issues, and today’s issue is essential reading – get hold of a copy if you possibly can.
In it, the chairman of Devon NFU David Hill writes a damning critique of the contiguous cull policy, using language that we had almost lost hope of ever hearing from the NFU. He admits that he has been advising his members to resist the cull if no disease was present on their farms, and he states that the vast majority of farmers are opposed to the contiguous culling policy, in stark contrast to the official NFU line that we have all grown sick of hearing. Why this has not been admitted publicly before now, he does not say.
The politicians, from Tony Blair downwards, have consistently argued that the Government cannot implement their FMD policies without the support and co-operation of the farming community – remember that is why vaccination was pushed off the agenda. So now, by the same argument, they can no longer proceed with the contiguous cull policy in Devon. If the farmers ever did support it at first, they most certainly do not support it now. Please take every opportunity to ram this point home with politicians, the media and the public in general as we continue to press for change.
FEARLESS DEATH – BY A FARMER TO OTHER FARMS
This touching piece was within one of Greg’s e-mails to me and I think it shows the great compassion farmers have for their animals …… I hope you agree. Thanks to Rod in advance:
TO FARMERS WHO ARE AFFECTED BY FOOT & MOUTH
Eight farmers have lost all their stock in Roeburndale Valley due to one case. I was one of those farmers. May the road rise with you is a Celtic blessing, which I used for my sheep before they were slaughtered on Wednesday, 11 April, 2001. The vets, slaughtermen and the army were present. Found this very appropriate and hope that other farmers in a similar position can use it.
May the road rise with you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand
Prior to the slaughter I also gave the sheep some Bach Flower remedy called Aspen, which is for “Fear of Death” and gives a feeling of fearlessness, “Once realised, we are beyond pain, suffering, care, worry, fear and become participants of joy”. I took this remedy as well as some of the other participants.
This remedy was sprayed on the sheep so that it touched their eyes and noses. Within minutes of using it the sheep and lambs settled down peacefully in the pen. I hope that this will help other farmers cope with this devastating time.
27 May 2001
A heartbroken Auctioneer wrote:
I drove down to Penrith today to value clean stock for the voluntary cull. But what I encountered was unbelievable. I tried to forget but I cannot. I would like to tell someone the way I feel but I can’t, so you’re getting it.
As I drove through death’s dark vale, the skeleton road it used to be, I smell the stench of burning flesh of our nation’s pride. The stock I love and sell by auction is stolen from my grasp. I feel my stomach wrench with pain and thank myself for missing breakfast, my nostrils cannot interpret the smells they meet. I only hope you don’t encounter the emotion that flows through my body, “despair”, and “anger”. I fill up inside, my eyes feel wet, my heart it sinks. The countryside I love is bare.
Where are the lambs, and calves of Spring? Only pyres with smoke are visible to me. The nightmare I see. It’s OK! I must wake up now, so I pinch myself. Oh dear God! I am awake. Why? Oh why does it happen now, 2001 a year to remember or, if I’m lucky, I might forget the “FIRES OF THE KILLING FIELDS OF CUMBRIA”.
28 May 2001
I am totally against the Government’s culling policy, and have lost all confidence in it. I don’t keep sheep to make money out of them, or even to eat. They graze our fields to keep weeds down and are delightful and beautiful rare breeds.
People like us should be given the opportunity to vaccinate, and since I disapprove wholeheartedly of the live animal export trade, I’m not going to sacrifice my sheep to protect it without one hell of a fight.
FOOT AND MOUTH IN THE FOREST OF DEAN
I have a closed flock of 19 sheep in the Forest of Dean. I use them to keep down my five acres of grassland, and spin the wool. They are nothing special, and have become quite a mixture over the years, but I like them.
Most of them were housed when foot and mouth broke out. They were expecting lambs, so they were indoors since early January. There were still four outside in my field, and I housed them when there was an outbreak ten miles away.
I watched the carnage on television with growing horror, listened to MAFF and the NFU telling me this was the best way to deal with the disease, and felt increasing fear for my flock. There was an outbreak a mile away on March 19th, and I was expecting to be part of the contiguous cull; I was given a D notice. My neighbour told me about the cull of free-roaming Forest sheep between April 1st and 19th. They had been rounded up and killed on a road closed for the purpose. The evidence was left behind for passing motorists and their children to see.
On April 18th a MAFF vet rang to ask if he could inspect the sheep. When he arrived, he told me they were in good shape. The following afternoon I was given an A notice by two MAFF officials at the door. I can’t move without a licence, have to disinfect, etc but nothing about culling. I have been taking greater precautions than this since before I received the D notice.
Next day, I rang every solicitor in the book. This can’t be right, killing healthy animals for nothing. I finally found one who already had another client in my position.
About 8pm, I checked the answer-phone. There was a message from MAFF, “Hello, this is MAFF, we are sending the slaughter team round tomorrow, We’ll call you in the morning”. My fear turned into indignation that this could be happening. That soon changed to determination that it wouldn’t. I wanted a witness, and half a dozen people to give me moral support.
The first people arrived at 7.45. I was pretty relieved to see them. MAFF did at least call to tell me they were coming at 11 o’clock. I asked them what they thought they were going to do, and they said the animals would be taken, held in a holding pen and slaughtered later. To which I replied that they wouldn’t. They told me that 20% of the roaming sheep had been infected, which they had found out after the slaughter.
A vet, a valuer and two police vans arrived at 11.30. I stood one side of my padlocked gate, and everyone else stood the other. My solicitor was there, too, which made a lot of difference. The vet handed her an envelope; it was a reply to her fax, stating that my sheep were being culled as dangerous contacts as they had been grazing with the forest sheep. My fear turned to anger, as this simply wasn’t true. They had been housed for five weeks minimum. I had been out twice and I had only had two visitors – the two MAFF vets. Later, I realised that my volunteering that I had grazing rights in the Forest had been twisted into “I had admitted that my sheep had been grazing with Forest sheep”. The frightening thing is, they hadn’t told me this was the reason, and I don’t believe they would have done if my solicitor hadn’t sent a fax the previous day. They had totally ignored my lone protests, and probably thought I was an easy target.
I asked the vet why he wanted to slaughter healthy sheep, and he said they couldn’t leave pockets of “potential infection”, as when the area was restocked, the whole thing would start again. To which I replied that I understood, but if he thought I was “potential infection” why didn’t we find out one way or the other?” He said that was not the policy; the policy was to slaughter first and find out afterwards. I said this was not reasonable, and if my animals were diseased, he could take them and if not, not. He said this was not their policy. I said why don’t we find out one and for all with blood tests? He said this was not their policy. I said my animals had been given a clean bill of health by a MAFF vet three days before, so why was he here now trying to kill them? He said this was their policy. Eventually, he said he could not continue with this, and walked away, saying they’d be back. I had defeated him with reason.
This is apparently an ‘experimental cull’. 35 farms have been targeted, and if there are more cases than they think (found out after death) in the area, this will trigger a further mass slaughter of everything between the River Severn and the River Wye.
My solicitor told me they could take out an injunction against me, but there are two kinds – one they can get behind your back, turn up and start slaughtering, and another that either you or your solicitor has to be in court when they do so. She made sure he would only get the second kind. She also said I could get an injunction against them. They have done this to people before, and been forced to drop them. The Anglesey farmers won their case on April 23rd.
So here I sit, still waiting, still frightened they will come when I’m on my own and intimidate me, they will trick me into allowing them in, and start the slaughter. I check the animals every couple of hours to make sure they are still there. I am unable to work because I have to protect my flock. I have run out of hay and am feeding them on straw and concentrates.
Friends and the wonderful local support group keep me going. There is also a great Website: www.sheepdrove.com with lots of information on it.
Eight million, not counting the lambs and calves. Important scientific data is being withheld by MAFF, while it is presenting false data for political reasons.
Enough is enough. The killing has got to stop.
For a start, we should ask Labour to answer this question: what is the upper limit to the number of animals they are prepared to kill, before they start using vaccination? 10 million? 16 million? 50% of the herd? 100%? The NUM and MAFF people to whom I have put this question have answered “We don’t make the policy. We are just carrying out orders”.
So we must take it to the source of the orders. Mr Blair, Parliamentary Candidate for Sedgefield. Candidates are there to be questioned. It will not be easy to get the question put, but Mr Blair and Mr Brown (Lab, Newcastle East) should both be asked, what is the upper limit to the percentage of the herd that you are prepared to kill before you authorise vaccination?
Another question that they have ducked is this: who will accept responsibility if, in 20 years time, a new group of vCJD cases appear, attributable to infection via your pyres and landfills? These aren’t the only questions. There are others, but these will do for a start.
To some, putting questions to politicians may seem like a pretty tame response to the desecration of our land that is taking place. I can see the point, but in practical terms, this is the time to put the questions.
If, by June 7th, it is clear that the big interviewers, like Paxman, have not put the questions; or if they have been put, Government has not answered them, then I would say that in that event, the “proper democratic channels” will have seen to have failed.
Two course of action are then open to us:
1. Legal action in the courts to have an injunction against any contiguous culling
and / or
2. Non-violent direct action against MAFF.
Considered, responsible acts of civil disobedience, for which the perpetrators are prepared to be arrested and defend their actions as justified, since they were designed to stop a greater crime. This case has been established by the Trident Ploughshares activists.
NVDA is not a thing to be entered into lightly. I am not sure whether I would have the courage to go through with it. But maybe, if after the election, we have had no answers, I may feel differently.
29 May 2001
Loads of road clusters at Sawley today, as culling under way at Bank Top Farm and surrounds. Sky News and BBC on site. Local knowledge says MAFF plan to be set up at Settle and Gisburn for 5 months!!!! Rumours of hotel bookings already made in The Peak District!! From the NW Evening Mail - “MASS CULL FOR FELL SHEEP IF DISEASE IS CONFIRMED, SLAUGHTERMEN are on standby in case a scorched earth cull of sheep is needed on the Furness fells just after the general election. Fears are growing that foot and mouth will be diagnosed in thousands of fell sheep when they are brought down for shearing in early to mid June”.
Since it only takes one in a flock to test positive for all to be killed – and since, if the tests were to be applied to a population of animals never exposed to FMD, it would be expected (as a French scientist was quoted in connection with the tests on sheep exported from Mid Wales last January) that 5% will return positive – this is frightening news. If 5% false positives are found will all animals in those flocks be killed – and contiguous farms too?
30 May 2001
Living in the Furness area of Cumbria and having successfully refused inspection of my small flock of sheep, although supposedly being under a D-notice (never received), I am determined that my healthy sheep stay totally isolated. This is because of the slaughter at 2 nearby farms, one which turned out to be fertiliser burn and the other, after suspicion, proved clear. These farms are now having to go through the disinfection process, because the ‘dirty’ slaughtermen and vets, in killing the clean animals, have infected the premises. Of course, this obviously makes sense in the general madness of things.
After the general election, the Duddon Fell flocks are going to be blood-tested, not on the fells where they are now or before they are moved, but when they have been brought down to lower pastures for shearing, this is madness. The killing will start again, the hill flocks will be decimated, as it is almost certain that some flocks will have FMD antibodies and will be culled, although they’ve fully recovered. I think they’re talking about testing at least 20 fell flocks. Will there then be another wave of contiguous culls, 3 km ones or even more – and has anyone been successful in preventing a cull of livestock with FMD antibodies?
3 June 2001
I will forward my diary of events leading up to the cull later, as I’m still having trouble with the bastards. I have pasted my son’s poems; I still can’t believe what we have all been through. Poems written by Cairn, 16 year old, a few weeks before his family’s organic farm was violated by MAFF(ia) officials who murdered their loved sheep, lambs and goats in the name of the greater good of other farms and animals. SERAD vet and Head Executioner, Alistair K (they are all healthy) Smith, aided by vet Alan (they don’t feel a thing) Robb, second Executioner and SERAD official, Evil Eye Alex Norval, Executioner’s mate, have ruined their lives and scarred them forever.
ANIMALS ARE SUFFERING
“Foot and mouth is here”
Say the arse holes from MAFF
We thought it wouldn’t touch us
And started to gaffe
Within a couple of weeks
It was more than we could bear
At Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway
Animals are suffering
Living in mud
Some lay dead
In a pool of blood
The others stacked in pyres
With the smell of burnt hair
All because of one man
His name is Tony Blair
NO MORE SLAUGHTER
No more slaughter
No more blood
No more animals
Living in mud
It’s foot and mouth
And Tony Blair
The question is
Does he care?
We have started a “Heart of Wigtownshire” Group, hoping to help people to a better future. Love and best wishes.
4 June 2001
WHERE CATTLE GRAZED
When I walked in fields of green
A lad alone, a life to dream
To shepherd sheep, to herd the cow
To walk in furrow of the plough,
As my father’s father had before
To feed a nation then at war
To know each cow by sight and name
To tend the sick, to heal the lame
For farming is no 9 to 5
Born within, you fight, you strive
You live with nature day by day
You laugh with her, you cry, you pray
You ask for guidance in her rage
Then applaud her on a summer stage
For at her best this England green
Is all you ask for in a dream
Men have cried in foreign land
To return once more, to hold her hand
To lay in peace beneath her soil
Shaped by years of blood and toil
Today I stand and I weep
I have no dream, I cannot sleep
In disbelief I stand and stare
The meadow now, oh so bare
Where cattle grazed beneath the oak
A silent shroud of pungent smoke
No sheep, no horse, no spring lamb
I stand alone, a broken man
For as I watch this England burn
I see a path of no return
Down that path across the land
Folk who do not understand
City folks born and bred
I stand alone, my dream is dead
5 June 2001
As some of you may know, we have been hit very hard around here recently (again). When everyone gave up all their sheep in the na?ve belief that this would suddenly eradicate the disease, we hardly believed the horror that would unfold over the ensuing weeks. Gradually, one by one more stock has been hit. This time in cattle. 650 dairy cattle here, a suckler herd there etc, etc.
This time, however, MAFF operated within uncharacteristic efficiency. Farms are being culled out rapidly, animals disposed of quickly, unlike the early days when animals were left rotting in front of our eyes for 10 or more days! Farm after farm has been killed out this weekend; not appearing on the website until it’s all over.
It has been nearly impossible to brief all farmers on their rights. Contiguous farms have been wiped out ruthlessly; turn your back and all the animals have gone! I saw one MAFF butcher team crushing a small herd of cattle against a wall and farm gate with metal fences. These animals could hardly breathe! The MAFF team stood around joking and laughing as a low loader pushed the fences firmly against the terrified animals! They were writhing in agony and I complained to MAFF, but they demanded I left immediately or they would just sit there until I left!
I had my little boy with me and therefore was in no mood for a stand off! Shame! I fancied putting a few more MAFF girlies in hospital! I also realised that these poor animals were suffering and unfortunately I beat a hasty retreat!
One hour later, these wretched animals had gone, with the only evidence they had been there being heavily scuffed grass and the usual blood spats against parts of the wall! They could not have fallen where they were shot, there was not enough room!
On my second visit, I confronted a MAFF person. He took my number plate and suggested I leave or his friends would remove me. I told him I was a lawyer working for the World Animal Welfare Organisation and he told me to F*** O** quickly. At this point I made it quite clear that if he wished to see home again he’d best back off! He did! Lucky really, there were lots of them around!
7 June 2001
From a Farmer in Worcestershire:
It has just occurred to me that I am being led into the trap of defending myself yet again. Why should I have to spend more time, money and effort on proving that I have been treated badly? I would have thought having 120,000 dead animals buried here and the potential for 1.2 million to be buried here, with just a press announcement to say they were going to do it would be proof enough.
I have already spent considerable time and money on phone calls, Internet access, printing paper and ink, petrol and countless wasted hours at council meetings. I have felt very distressed, I have been frightened, I still feel scared and unsafe. I would be afraid to own a cloven footed animal in the future for fear of what could happen, people who have worked hard to build up good herds that they are proud of have seen it all wiped out.
We are still under a D Notice.
This applies to our entire community here, although we had virtually no foot and mouth in Worcestershire. The stress in the harder hit communities like Devon and Cumbria is on a much greater scale than we have had, I wonder if they will ever recover.
When I read the posts saying what they were going to spend putting people’s lives back together in rural communities, I feel even more angry, because they have stolen peace of mind and it will take more than money to fix that. If it is a gift then let if be a gift, not a way of making what has happened OK.
Any money paid to farmers is their money and that has been stolen from them. Any money spent on helping rural areas to get over what has happened will be welcome, but not an excuse for what has happened.
No wonder I feel scared and unsafe.
I left home at 07.30, it was raining and with the usual gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach, I kept saying to myself stay calm! I crawled into Kirkby Thore, pathetically delaying the inevitable. Then they were there! The white suits, the lorries, the slaughter wagons, the Ford Focuses and horrifyingly, a beautiful Friesian Dairy Herd walking slowly and trustingly to their sheds to be killed; more of Blair’s statistics!
10 June 2001
Watch out for Beckett
MARGARET BECKETT – now farming’s in trouble. Hang up your boots, boys, it’s time to retire!
SHOOTINGS AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE
Sir, I am writing to you concerning the barbaric slaughter by MAFF of the bull, cows and calves on land next to ours on Wednesday, 30th May. It took the best part of four hours to kill them from a window of a Land Rover. Two cows were shot and then got up again, to be shot once more. The calves were run up and down two very large fields to finally be shot near the stream. The wonder is that they didn’t drop with exhaustion or heart failure.
MAFF didn’t try to corral them and chased them with a quad bike. It beggars belief that such a thing can happen today in this country. It was an absolute disgrace. By the way, I am not a farmer and have no axe to grind with MAFF.
That is an absolute bloody disgrace. Who supplied these cowboys with their quad bikes?
Where was the vet?
MORE CUMBRIAN LETTERS
Some more letters from local press this weekend:
VACCINATION THE ONLY ANSWER TO THE OBSCENE SLAUGHTER A WANTON WASTE
Sir - MAFF now culls “on suspicion”. In the police it is called “zero tolerance”. Either way it is political.
Four days before MAFF began that infamous cull, Professor Brown, a leading world expert on foot and mouth disease and working in the United Stated, offered a system developed in his laboratory that would give an accurate result within two hours – effective, cheap and precise. It left the British method standing. But MAFF turned it down; they were “too busy”. There is only one answer – vaccination, costing about £5 per head. The myth about vaccination should be laid to rest. There is no reason to slaughter after vaccination. Professor Brown has stated that should a vaccinated animal become a carrier, trials have shown it is highly unlikely the virus would be passed on.
Let there be no doubt, it is the taxpayer who will pick up the costs of the Government’s mistakes – all the expenditure on slaughter and on compensation to the farmers, small businesses and the tourist industry. This has been a shortsighted policy, ignoring past experiences and the Northumberland report of 1969 and throwing away billions, to save an export industry worth some £300 million.
But is it unexpected? Take a look at the record of MAFF. Fifteen years ago, MAFF let it be understood a vaccine to combat bovine TB was being developed. However, it is understood this work has only recently begun. In the meantime MAFF is engaged in another flawed experiment; one on a par with their cull to eradicate foot and mouth disease.
Briefly, Brock the Badger has been a scapegoat for the spread of bovine TB. Yet, after 30 years’ research, there is no conclusive evidence. Brock is non-migratory and badgers have occupied the same sets for hundreds of years. Nevertheless, 20,000 will be culled over seven years in England and the Government has confirmed that 20,000 badgers have been culled at a cost of £6.9 million, or £3,450 per badger.
Like foot and mouth disease, TB will “jump” miles to start a new outbreak, and the disease has even cropped up on islands uninhabited by Brock. MAFF has recently had to cull a herd of deer with bovine TB. That should make you think, as will the fact that Brock is a protected animal. MAFF’s actions breach the Berne Convention.
In its wisdom MAFF has hounded the real cheese industry to near extinction and when the BSE crisis loomed up, all but brought the beef industry to its knees. Today, MAFF is softly, softly introducing GM crops and to hell with the consequences, the environment and you and I. Unfortunately, you and I are the mugs who pick up the bill for this obscene slaughter and wanton waste. Please write to your MP.
CUMBRIANS LIVING IN WAR ZONE
Sir - I am a country woman fiercely proud of my farming and country background. Over the last few months I have watched our farming industry at war with a disease that has, for political reasons, been allowed to ravage and destroy the livelihood and passion of hundreds of people, the biggest percentage of whom live and breathe with their animals, not because they have to but because they want to.
We’re living in a war zone because of the devastating effect felt by every section of our community; nobody has escaped. The country has been brought to its knees, led by incapable leaders and controlled by an unseen enemy. I cannot begin to understand that in the 21st Century, in a so-called enlightened country with a wealth of scientific knowledge, we have allowed the unforgivable cruelty to man and beast to go on.
We as individuals are powerless and have to stand by and watch pontificating politicians shame our industry for political gains. By not admitting to a state of emergency early on in the foot and mouth crisis, it has obviously from the outset been a cynical ploy by the Government to down size a large section of the farming community.
We all know that in the eyes of the rest of the world British farming is a dirty word, not due in the most part to farming practices but because of political dictatorship. I, for one, am proud of my farming roots but at present not proud to be British.
People are now beginning to wake up! If MAFF carry on in this area in the manner they have been, there could be big problems ahead. We will see!
11 June 2001
WHY IS MAFF KILLING THE FARMING COMMUNITY?
(The Western Morning News)
Farmer’s daughter, Leila Winslade, describes her anger at the Government and officials following the cull of her father’s livestock and blames the crisis on official incompetence and a European conspiracy.
It is extremely difficult to put into words the anguish and frustration of the past few weeks. The injustice of the contiguous cull and the tears that I and my family have shed in recent days are some of the things I will never forget. I can hardly think of my dad’s cattle without crying and if I feel that way I can only begin to imagine the torment and desolation that my parents must be feeling. How does it feel for my dad to walk out to that empty yard? Silence, no animals anywhere. Ever since I was a little girl we had cows. I remember helping my dad writing up charts, showing when each one was due to calf.
My father is a hardworking, honourable man, totally dedicated to his farm. His animals were checked twice daily. He never missed a single calving, just in case there were difficulties. He worked all day, every day. He never took a holiday. I know of very few people with his knowledge and commitment and I’m very proud of him.
When it was first announced that foot and mouth was in this country, my first thought was for my parents, and I prayed they would be spared. Last week, after days of unspeakable pressure by MAFF, his healthy herd was finally culled. Life will never be the same again. I feel bitter, tearful, frustrated and helpless, but most of all I feel desperate to highlight what is happening in the countryside and I hope that others will realise before it is too late.
MAFF seem completely pre-occupied with the cull, not foot and mouth. Although there is a great performance made of disinfecting and precautions taken by MAFF for public show, I have heard endless accounts of slackness on site; slaughtermen, and those working on the pyres, where no precautions were taken. Many have returned home in the evenings wearing the same clothing. I know of one man who wore the same hat day in and day out to infected areas. He still has that hat in his living room.
Pyre workers were told to put down their white coats and take Easter off. I assume this was because it was not a pretty sight for the tourists. Surely if the Government were genuinely concerned about eradicating this disease these men should have been working overtime.
As my parents’ animals were culled, they were sitting in the local pub. Quite a famous pub, attracting many visitors. Imagine that. A farmer who has, just minutes before, herded his animals into pens for slaughter, animals considered to be dangerous contacts. Surely this man could have taken the disease with him, but no, there was no licence to restrict him to his farm as MAFF apparently did not think it was necessary. How ironic! I conclude then that there was not risk and have spoken to several vets who have confirmed this.
It would seem that the culling of Britain’s livestock is the key issue here. How is it done and for what reason is irrelevant. This is not just a cull of animals but of farmers, for many of them have lost their lives. Many, like my parents, have lost their way of life, perhaps forever. Some cases have actually left them dead, like the poor farmer who hanged himself the other day, not able to stand the pressure any longer.
Where have the animal rights people been? It would be logical to think these vegetarian, farm-hating concerns would be happy to see the end of livestock farming in this country. As long as they make no fuss about the cruelty and devastation of foot and mouth, they will be guaranteed their precious ban on hunting from “nice” Mr Blair.
I urge the town dwellers to think about why they like to visit the countryside. Surely, Devon has maintained its tranquil beauty because of its rural traditions. The rolling landscape with its sheep and cattle, the quaint farm houses and yards full of chickens. The stone walls, the hopeful sighting of a wild animal. Farmers are the guardians of the countryside and generations of them have made this country what it is today.
I pose the question “What will it be like when the devastation of foot and mouth is finally understood?” If there are still farmers out there who are rubbing their hands in glee, in anticipation of a healthy compensation cheque, I urge them to think again. There may be no farming industry to go back into in months to come, for it seems that Europe would prefer Britain to be an arable state.
This Government has widened the gap between town and country dwellers, but also in the past weeks has created a rift between farmers and those dependent on tourism. If Devon changes beyond recognition, will tourists still want to visit?
Charles Kennedy came to Devon recently and asked for the silence of the media to be stopped. William Hague went to Cornwall. I am now awaiting Mr Blair’s visit in great anticipation so that he may justify the barbaric treatment of my parents, their animals, and other farmers across the countryside. Words cannot express the hatred and anger that I feel against Tony Blair, Nick Brown and their MAFF officials for their brutal and insensitive handling of my elderly parents.
Rumour has it that now the election is over the cull will continue, probably at an accelerated pace. I imagine other animals will go on welfare grounds and other farmers simply will not be able to continue. Scientists have declared from very early on that the contiguous cull was neither necessary nor effective, so why continue? What use is it anyway when the surrounding countryside is teeming with deer?
In my parent’s case discretion could have been taken in the decision to cull. They had just two days until the herd would officially have been declared clear and healthy, and with no other animals within half-a-mile, there was no risk, so why? Anthony Gibson said on Wednesday that every farmer was legally entitled to a blood test. My parents were denied. Why? They were small organic farmers and conservationists and posed no threat to over-production, so why?
It would seem that a great opportunity has been seized to eradicate farming and rural Britain, as we know it. Think, too, of those who currently make their living through agriculture, those who help with lambing, shearing, vets and auctioneers, to name but a few. What will they do?
What will my parents do now? Even my dad’s dog would not venture into the yard for days after the cull. She didn’t bark and is completely confused by the change in her 12-year routine. There are no animals for my dad to walk out and see any more, so he sits and waits. The devastation and emotional consequences of this traumatic ordeal has been seriously underrated.
This is not just about some animals, which can be replaced at a later date, but about a way of life. Many, like my parents, have led a simple and insular life, but happy. They have spent the last few days trying to find things to do; their whole lives have been taken away, and for what reason? There is also a big environmental issue. What state will the landscape be left in after a period of no grazing or hay/silage making? The damage could be enormous.
Also, the vast sums of taxpayers’ money spent on the disinfecting programme. Already my parents have had four or five visits – it will apparently take ten men another three weeks to thoroughly disinfect their farm and at what cost to the environment? Ironically, the area where the original alleged outbreak started is grassland – that will simply be left alone with any passing wildlife to walk freely across and move on.
I know of farm workers who are being lured by the fat wage packets on offer, to help with the slaughtering and disposal of animals – this treachery will in time be recognised – for what is it really worth to help destroy their own livelihood and that of their neighbours, too? All those in the rural communities must unite together. Those who are driven by money only are part of the problem.
If the Government wanted rid of many farmers, I wonder why they did not officially offer a legitimate redundancy package? I’m sure many who have struggled in the past years would happily have opted out. But for those like my parents who did it not for money, but because it was their life and the only one they had ever known, this is singularly the most tragic and unjust way of ending their days in farming. My heart goes out to any farming family that has had to endure this horrific, cruel, heartbreaking ordeal.
We may have lost the battle for my parents but, as far as I am concerned, and I know many are in agreement, the war is not over! If MAFF get their way, they will cull the last remaining farms in Knowstone. This is mainly due to not one but three separate incidents of bungled culls, which had been carried out by MAFF and enabled them to slaughter every animal in the area.
Am I mad? Am I the only one who thinks this whole episode has been just too convenient for the Government?
FARM CHILDREN HIT BY STRESS OF FOOT AND MOUTH
By Valerie Elliot, Countryside Editor
Hannah Tweedie is one of many young people living in the countryside who have been emotionally distressed by the foot and mouth epidemic. Her five pet lambs were among more than 1000 cattle and sheep that were slaughtered in April at her parents’ 350-acre farm near Penrith, Cumbria.
Health chiefs fear that thousands of children have been disturbed by similar experiences and that scenes of dead carcasses and burning pyres have left them vulnerable to stress and depression.
A Forum for Rural Children and Young People, funded by the Countryside Agency, will examine the needs of young people living in rural areas. It is feared that their well-being could be jeopardised further if the rural economy suffers any more setbacks. The forum’s priority is to assess the needs of teenagers in the worst affected foot and mouth areas.
Hannah, 15, who is taking GCSEs and sat a geography exam last week, said that she was still susceptible to bouts of tears. “I was really worried what would happen if they asked about agriculture and the state of dairy farms”, she said. “I know if there had been a question like that I would have cried. Tiny things like that trigger the sadness.” Describing the death of the lambs at Great Salkeld farm, she said, “It was awful. They were really like children to me and now all I have are the pictures”.
Schools in Cumbria have reported concerns about pupils having to spend weeks away from the classroom. Some are returning to school distressed and emotionally drained. Peter Tiplady, director of public health in North Cumbria, said yesterday that teachers had acted very positively and were trying to use schools as havens where children can escape from their experiences.
Schools have said that girls have been more emotionally affected by the slaughter of animals. It was also reported that ten-year-old boys at primary school were more subdued and appeared to understand the long-term implications for the economy and the countryside. Dr Tiplady said, “The worst affected children are those who live on infected farms. They saw it all and lived with the bangs of the guns and the piles of dead animals”. His staff have contacted health chiefs in Devon and North Yorkshire, the other badly affected areas, to share observations.
Dr Tiplady will ask the NHS for additional funding to conduct research into the effects of the disease. He plans to carry out an epidemiological study of groups of people in an infected area to identify health problems. Dr Tiplady also hopes to establish a panel of about 50 people whom he will ask to keep diaries for a year. The group will meet to discuss the impact of the disease on their daily lives and to record personal details such as the inability to sleep or nightmares.
Hannah said that she was particularly concerned for local boys who were hoping to make their careers in farming. “It’s really made some of them rethink what they are going to do with their lives”, she said. “Some were going to go to agricultural college but what are they going to come back to? I also know some people who’ve been on farms for weeks and months now and their only contact with people is by phone. That must be very hard”.
12 June 2001
Andrew - thanks for your very helpful and detailed remarks. I'm not quite sure that all my niggling doubts are laid to rest but some of them have been! Re misdiagnosis - the MAFF vet in Llandrindod told us that he regretted that there had been a large number of cases misdiagnosed in Powys. The reason was that, although they did their best to give a crash training course to young and foreign vets, many of them had never looked into a sheep's mouth before and therefore mistakes had been made. He also mentioned that most vets do not actually come into contact with orf (there has been a big outbreak of orf here this year) because farmers deal with it themselves rather than calling in a vet, so I can understand that mistakes could have been made here. Expensive mistakes in terms of animals culled!
One thing I forgot to ask in my query to you is why the £2 million average cost of cleaning and disinfecting farms KNOWN to have tested negative? Buildings pulled down, all wooden fences, doors etc burned, metal gate fittings buried, stone yards broken up and concreted, and in some cases a foot of topsoil removed. It does seem a little extreme.
Please raise any niggling doubts you have - I have mine too.
- ”Re misdiagnosis - the MAFF vet in Llandrindod told us that he regretted that there had been a large number of cases misdiagnosed in Powys” –
Is 'sorry' good enough? Have the veterinary profession even owned up to the fact that many misdiagnoses have been made? Why has the fact that many misdiagnoses have been made not changed their behaviour or MAFF policy? In ‘67/68 there were many more vets actively engaged in farm animal work – most would have been familiar with Orf, for example. The slaughter policy does depend for its integrity on the ability of vets to be able to diagnose FMD accurately and/or the use of lab tests to back up clinical diagnosis – in many instances, neither condition has been true/met in the current epidemic and that's a scandal IMO - but then I'm labelled' as 'not living in the real world' and as an 'idealist' when I raise such issues with vets.
- “The reason was that although they did their best to give a crash training course to young and foreign vets, many of them had never looked into a sheep's mouth before and therefore mistakes had been made” –
In many instances, I have first hand information that there was NO training at all. If MAFF knew that many of the TVIs could not be expected to be able to diagnose FMD accurately, then why was lab testing not used to back up clinical diagnoses - Drs Donaldson and Kitching (IAH Pirbright) have stated that in their opinion it is not possible to make a definitive diagnosis of FMD in sheep affected by this strain of FMDV on clinical signs alone.
MAFF has published a job description, which lists essential requirements for applicants for TVI work, yet very very few TVIs would match these requirements.
Misdiagnosis - whilst unacceptable IMO - would not have been quite so much of a problem had the 48-hour contiguous cull policy not been in effect. Each IP typically 'generated' 4-6 contiguous farms in many areas. Hence, one misdiagnosis could affect 5-7 farms. This is quite unacceptable, I feel.
- “ He also mentioned that most vets do not actually come into contact with orf (there has been a big outbreak of orf here this year) because farmers deal with it themselves rather than calling in a vet” –
True - there has been a great decline in veterinary presence on farms, esp. sheep farms, over the years, partly due to the declining profitability of many types of livestock enterprise - esp. smaller units - which has led farmers to cut costs and veterinary attention is often cut back in such circumstances.
- “So I can understand that mistakes could have been made here” –
Should we be so accepting/tolerant of this? Should the policy not have been changed to accommodate the restricted and inadequate resources available to deal with it?
- “Expensive mistakes in terms of animals culled!” –
But not only in terms of animals culled - the scale of the cull - largely a result of the unjustified voluntary pre-emptive culls, the firebreak culls and the 48 hour contiguous cull, which led directly to the intractable carcase disposal problems and also exacerbated the people/skills resource problem, radically increased the number of farms under the strictest restrictions and the scale of the area under restriction and the impact on tourism – and all the cost and losses associated with this.
- “One thing I forgot to ask in my query to you is why the £2 million average cost of cleaning and disinfecting farms KNOWN to have tested negative? Buildings pulled down, all wooden fences, doors etc, burned, metal gate fittings buried, stone yards broken up and concreted, and in some cases a foot of topsoil removed. It does seem a little extreme” –
It does, doesn't it? I guess if I was being 'charitable', I'd say that they can't be sure that these farms are not infected because they didn't take enough samples nor did they sample enough animals to be confident that the farms are clear of FMDV - all they did (sometimes) was to take a small number of samples from a relatively few animals for diagnostic purposes - this procedure/protocol is not adequate to declare a whole farm clear. They merely killed, as one dissenting TVI said, 'without rhyme or reason', without even thinking of the consequences WRT carcass disposal or clean up costs.
MAFF and the leading vet organisations excuse all this on the grounds of the 'need for speed' to combat the disease and Dick Sibley, President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, described the downside consequences on Radio 5 Live yesterday as 'the price we had to pay'. This 'excuse' is totally unacceptable. This 'need for speed' is just not true in most instances. Once movement restrictions are in place and effective biosecurity put in place, the virus is 'going nowhere', as Paul Kitching has pointed out. Donaldson et al's papers in the Vet Record show that the chances of farm-to-farm transmission by means of airborne spread are very small in most circumstances. It is well established that movement restrictions and biosecurity are by far the two most important and effective factors in controlling the spread of FMDV - followed by the rapid slaughter and disposal of INFECTED animals as soon as they can be identified - and the labs were fully capable of returning results within 8 hours from samples taken from a cattle herd in Glos, even early on in the epidemic. The many unnecessary culls - voluntary, firebreak and contiguous - consumed and diverted scarce resources from more of the really important tasks.
ETHICAL ISSUES SURROUNDING THE CRISIS
I haven't seen a discussion anywhere on the purely ethical issues regarding the animals we raise for food, so I have written a letter to Tony Blair, which I am sharing with you below. If you know anyone else who is also campaigning for a Government "Code of Ethics" or similar, please could you e-mail me, as I may not see messages posted on the board.
The government needs to get farm animals protected quickly, due to the policy of re-opening public footpaths across farms even in infected areas, as has happened on my farm, otherwise the animals are like "sitting ducks" - for how much longer can they remain free of the disease?
Dear Mr. Blair
THE FOOT AND MOUTH OUTBREAK – RETHINKING THE SOLUTION
I would like to assist you in the process of reviewing the results of the Foot and Mouth culling policy and formulating future policy. As a highly intelligent person, I think you will be most interested in the ideas I wish to put before you and I would like to ask you please to ensure that I receive an individual reply giving your own observations on the ideas put forward here.
I happen to be an organic farmer working 70 hectares of land in the Snowdonia National Park, however I am writing this letter not in this capacity, but as one of the hundreds of thousands of caring and compassionate people to whom the destruction of animal life during the outbreak has caused intense suffering.
Great Britain prides itself on having had a great civilising influence on the rest of the world. As a nation of highly evolved human beings, we need our Government to formulate a Code of Ethics that sets out our relationship to the animal kingdom and the way in which we will in future handle the issue of the life and death of animals. Such a Code of Ethics is needed to operate alongside legislation, because legislation alone has been inadequate to guide the decisions that have had to be taken since the beginning of the outbreak. We can only know what decisions to make, when we know what we are trying to achieve. This depends on our system of values. How highly do we value animal life and all that it represents – a genetic inheritance going back for generations - compared with the ability to keep export markets open?
As a basis for this Code of Ethics, I would like to put forward the following ideas:
1. The most precious thing upon our planet is life itself.
2. To kill the patient in an attempt to kill the disease organism is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
3. We in this country are no longer cavemen and, as such, we no longer have to put all our energies into the struggle for bodily survival.
4. We like to think of ourselves as highly evolved human beings and, as such, our actions are dictated by our Code of Ethics and not the pressing need for bodily survival.
5. As highly evolved human beings, we have adopted Reverence for Life as the starting point for our Code of Ethics. This means that life must never be wasted.
6. Every life form comes into, or is helped into, bodily existence for a purpose.
7. There is a flow of life known as the “food chain” which starts with soil organisms and moves up through plants and animals to humans.
8. The purpose of farm animals is mainly to provide food for human beings, which are generally regarded as the life form immediately above them in the “food chain”.
9. In order to fulfil this purpose, farm animals must be consumed by human beings and not “thrown away”. To throw them away frustrates their purpose.
10. The ethic of Reverence for Life requires that all life forms be treated with respect.
11. To dispose of an animal in a mass grave or landfill site is disrespectful to the animal.
12. In India, the cow is revered as the source of milk, which people the world over consume every day of their lives, from early infancy. Since we in this country claim to be equally as civilised as the Indian people, it befits us to treat cows with the utmost sensitivity. At the very least, we should show gratitude to the cow, considering how much we depend on her produce. To pile cows on funeral pyres in undignified bodily postures is highly insensitive.
Having formulated a Code of Ethics, I would ask you please to do everything possible to ensure that, in future, the policy for controlling epidemics is motivated by the guiding principle of “ensuring minimum loss of animal life”.
I am sure that, if you had known in advance the scale on which animal life would be lost in the current outbreak, you would have opted for less destructive control methods. Many farmers like me are ready and willing to have our livestock vaccinated voluntarily, as advocated by the Soil Association, and will support such a programme. A voluntary vaccination programme should also make it possible to ease the movement restrictions which have caused millions of animals to suffer and their offspring to die on the farm in large numbers, causing untold grief to the helpless farmers. The culling policy has inadvertently turned into a “holocaust” for the animal kingdom and hundreds of thousands of ordinary members of the public are very deeply concerned by the way animals are treated. For these people’s sake, as well as the animals’, and to provide reassurance for the future, I ask you please to publish a Code of Ethics without delay.
17 June 2001
To the people in Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Somerset, Cumbria, Devon and Galloway, going through this awful situation at the moment. The press may have gone quiet, so has the Forest; the silver lining, if there is one, is that the wild flowers and butterflies have been spectacular with so many silent fallow fields.
Strange times we live in, the landscape is changing fast; I have lived here for over ten years now. The bracken is overtaking, the nights are silent, except for the owls. The fields are overgrown, rabbits everywhere, the deer are getting braver, coming out in the open. I go to see my sister in Dorset, so far unaffected, and stop to watch sheep and lambs grazing normally in the fields. Shuttered farms, tape everywhere saying footpaths closed. For sale notices, businesses folding week by week. Silent spring followed by a silent summer. It’s going to take a long time to recover from this.
Can anyone explain to me how the majority of the general public can close their eyes to these horrors?
FOOT-AND-MOUTH CRISIS LINKED TO FARMERS’ SUICIDES – ANANOVA ALERTING
The pressures of foot-and-mouth and BSE on the British farming industry have been brought sharply into focus at inquests on three farmers. Powys coroner John Hollis described the suicides of the three prominent farmers as "catastrophic".
He was speaking after the inquest on farmer and livestock haulier, Glyn Lewis, who hanged himself on his mid-Wales farm in April. The inquest at Welshpool Town Hall heard that he could no longer cope with the effect of foot-and-mouth on his business.
The 59-year-old, of Llwyn-y-maes, had not used his lorry for seven weeks, because he was afraid of carrying the disease to unaffected areas. The cattle and sheep on his 90-acre farm were also due to be culled, although foot-and-mouth had not been confirmed at the farm.
Earlier, a verdict of suicide was also recorded on a farmer who had been affected by the foot-and-mouth crisis.
John Bayliss, 56, was found dead at the family's Borfa Wen farm in Kerry, Newtown, Mid-Wales, on April 2 this year. He died from a single gunshot wound to the head. The inquest heard that although none of his cattle had been confirmed as having foot-and-mouth, the farm had had restrictions placed on it.
Brian Oakley, 54, suffered a breakdown at the end of the 1990s, after problems caused by the crisis in the farming industry which resulted in falling prices. His wife Gillian told the inquest that they had to sell their 270-acre farm and move to a smaller one at Llanfechain in mid-Wales.
She added that her husband had never fully recovered from the breakdown and had had a history of depression going back 20 years. A verdict of suicide was recorded on the farmer, who was found hanged in March this year.
Mr Hollis said that as he had dealt with three farm suicides, he felt certain that foot-and-mouth and BSE had exacerbated the situations: "We have a situation where the crisis in the farming industry has been catastrophic for the families of these three decent men and their deaths are to be deeply regretted."
I don’t know. I think it might be because there is less of a community spirit than there used to be and that people fail to identify with crisis, as all they see are figures and words. If they knew these farmers, had been to their farms, they might feel more aggrieved. If the public saw and read more about what is happening to the animals in this crisis, they would care more.
They don’t. We do. It is us that will make the change.
Dear Prime Minister,
THE BARBARIC SLAUGHTER OF ANIMALS IN EMBSAY, LINTON AND THRESHFIELD
To fire a captive bolt pistol at close quarters into an animal’s brain is criminal enough. To chase poor frightened animals round and round fields on quad bikes whilst taking pot shots at them with rifles is not fighting foot and mouth, it is nothing more than an inhumane sport carried out by some sadistic power crazed lunatics. This must stop now! These animals suffer – they are not killed cleanly – they are chased until they can run no more. This is not the Wild West, Mr Blair, this is Great Britain and a so-called civilised country.
I also am led to understand that this method is illegal. Will the Police in the areas that this has/is being carried out be bringing any prosecutions, or will it be another Gilwern scenario and classed as ‘exceptional circumstances’ and therefore no case to answer? I will not hold my breath.
Who are these people who are charging around on quad bikes armed with rifles – apart from working for DEFRA, which does little to guarantee their character or their suitability? You can recruit anyone for the ‘price of a pint or two’ and the chance to ‘go shooting’, all made legal by the Government – multiply that by the gross sums of money that these killers are really being paid – and I wonder they have stopped at shooting animals.
As you say Mr Blair, we are fighting foot and mouth – and that you will rid this Country of the virus – surely this cannot be one of the methods to which you refer? What have we, the rural people, ever done that our animals deserve such a treatment?
I am angry, Mr Blair, angry that we are not being listened to by you and your Government. You have been voted back into power for the next five years to safeguard this County’s interests.
I am but one voice and I realise I am not singing the tune of the 25% of people who voted you into power. But you were voted in to govern a United Kingdom, not a divided one – the divide being between the Country and the City. When are you going to ‘act’ for the rural communities? Instead of stripping us bare and leaving us to witness such cruel acts and our animals left to bleed and suffer where they have fallen.
Yes, they are only animals to some people, but they still deserve to die with some act of kindness and compassion, in this your quest for a foot and mouth free Utopia.
PS. In response to my last letter to you regarding your handling of the foot and mouth crisis, you did not respond to any of my concerns. Instead I received some fact sheets on FMD. I hope this was just an illustration of MAFF’s inefficiency and not you ignoring your electorate.
ANGER IN THE EDEN VALLEY
For those not in the know or who prefer not to believe, please read the following letter from a gentleman living across the main road from us. These horrific scenes are virtually a daily occurrence for us! Over. What do YOU think?
THE CUMBERLAND & WESTMORLAND HERALD (16th June 2001)
Sir - So the carnage goes on! Just as we thought that foot and mouth had possibly left us, back it comes to our area with a vengeance. Strange, isn’t it? Are we really still na?ve enough to think that this ‘outbreak’ was the result of an infected lump of meat from South America, pigswill, or even Chinese takeaway on that farm in Ponteland? (What a wonderful scapegoat he has made). Few people believe this nonsense any more, and many suggest other more sinister motives behind this horrendous blow to local agriculture.
The foot and mouth virus will have joined other highly infectious diseases in the arsenal of terrorists, political or otherwise. It is thought widely to now be a ‘marketable’ product and available to those desperate or committed enough to use it. We elected a new Government last week, but who are our ‘real’ rulers? Could it be that a committee in Brussels has decreed that the British livestock industry must be devalued by at least 50%? If that is the case, there is an awful long way to go.
In my previous letter some weeks ago, I listed a few questions. Most have been answered by either stony silence, or subsequent events. But where indeed have the RSPCA, World Compassion in Farming or Animal Rights people been while some of the most brutal and inhumane incidents of cruelty have been perpetrated in our valley during the course of the infamous cull? They have been strangely toothless, inactive and voiceless. I wonder why?
But I urge farming families who have been unfortunate enough to witness these incidents in their fields, paddocks and farm yards to record and report – or if they would prefer, I would be willing to collate it all and make sure it reached the right people.
Like the incident that took place in the village of Bolton on Wednesday, gets our second vote of thanks. 6th June. Some terrified cattle had escaped from fields near the village, as a cull progressed not too far away. They were found wandering through Bolton in the early hours. Somebody corralled them in the only place that was considered to be ‘safe’, the newly established children’s area behind the village hall. At least for the time being they were secure, safe and at peace.
But, before long, a team of MAFF officials, followed by the inevitable slaughterers, arrived on the scene. Had it not been for the determined resistance of an 80-year-old retired farmer and local parish councillor, Harry Bell, these people would have shot those hapless animals amongst the swings and slides. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up the full horror of such a scene and the incredible insensitivity displayed by some of these people.
Maybe one day the truth will come out and the guilty be held to account. May our valley once more return to some sort of normality. But it will never be the same again!
The gentleman is dead right! Where in the hell are all these animal rights people, where are the RSPCA or the HSE? They are certainly not coming in front of the cameras and saying we are going to take out prosecutions against Mr X for these disgraceful acts.
As you know, I’ve lodged an official complaint regarding the GILWERN slaughter and all I get from the police, the RSPCA, the HSE, and now the Welsh Secretary is - “We are still investigating”.
If you break the speed limit and trigger a camera, they are on you like a ton of bloody bricks - but slaughter healthy animals time and time again, in broad daylight off the back of a quad bike …… and it’s OK! So much for the clown who said it was “under control” and the other one who said it would all stop by 7th June.
Brussels have got us by the short and curlies, and it suits them just fine watching our Government break the law to suit the end game - cheap meat from Poland and the “expanding EU”. They have another thing coming though – we (FMD people) are not finished!
Keep the info flowing Nick - it will all be gathered for the Public Enquiry and we shall screw them to the wall with facts.
18 June 2001
HEARTBREAK OF A BUNGLED CULL
Yesterday we had 18 of our 22 pedigree rare breed Dexter cattle culled due to a neighbouring foot and mouth outbreak. As you may or may not know, these cattle had been bred by Richard and myself over the past 12 years and built up from one calf that we hand-reared. This cow was a part of this cull yesterday, and they were all known to us by name.
This episode has caused us the most pain and distress one could ever imagine, as the whole process has been a shambles from start to finish with no organisation or communication, although I am not sure it has finished yet. We still have four cattle left at home.
Following the preliminary, and what I thought initially to be the most distressing part of walking round a field naming and valuing your cows prior to the slaughter, they started the process of trying to slaughter them at 3pm on Tuesday. There followed five hours of chasing them round the field trying to get them into a pen that was way too small in a corner of the field where there are lorries, JCB’s and up to 10 cars, people and disinfection trucks waiting, with Richard failing to convince them that if it was done quietly and calmly without all these people around, the cows may come near.
Finally, three cows pushed through the fence onto the road, followed in hot pursuit by a slaughterman with a rifle, pointing the gun across the road while traffic was coming down the road, as there were not enough army personnel around to close the road.
One of the more senior vets – we by this time had three – then overruled Richard and said they would have to have a marksman in the morning as by this time it was 8pm. She would not hear of three or four of them going early to try and pen them up while it was quiet in the morning.
Again, as you may or may not know, most of our cattle, although a bit skittish, were quite friendly and I do feel it excessive to have had to shoot them like wild animals. Also, the field they were in was right on the edge of the village with a row of people’s gardens backing onto it, and all these villagers had come to know our cattle and also found them quite friendly.
To add insult to injury, while I was at home yesterday morning, as I did not wish to be at the field, I had a phone call from a foreign vet at Newcastle Disease Control Centre to ask if he could come and see my 22 cattle. When I informed him in a somewhat hysterical manner that they were in the process of killing 18 of them he seemed quite surprised.
I have written in the hope that you will understand why we may be a little distant, as we are very upset and finding it difficult to come to terms with how we and the animals were treated.
19 June 2001
You wrote “So what I am saying is simply if you send a flock of inexperienced vets out with pictures of disease, that they have never seen, and with instructions to find it, THEY WILL, even if it isn’t there. Think on it, why so many negatives, that sadly have been slaughtered”.
Spot on! (not sure many of ‘em were even given the pictures) – not only were they told to find it, they were told there was a lot of it out there in sheep (which was/is mostly speculation as far as I can see). So sure enough, they ‘found’ a lot of it in sheep.
What baffles me more than anything is how a flock of inexperienced vets can convince a flock of highly experienced hill sheep farmers, who know nearly every one of their animals, to let them kill the whole of their livelihood on suspicion only.
They would demand second, third or even more opinions on their barn roofs, tractors, range rovers and everything else. I’ve had a flock of pet sheep for 25 years and never in all that time have I ever felt bold enough to volunteer any opinion on sheep husbandry, as I’m still considered to ‘know nowt’.
What about the farmer from West Cumbria who let all his sheep go to slaughter – even though it was not his animals they should have been collecting. There had been no outbreak within 40 miles of him – and yet he still believed what he was told – and watched as his sheep were taken away for slaughter.
I know, that is the big mystery, what has turned everybody, including myself, into these meek beings, who all of a sudden don’t know what’s what? I know my animals don’t have FMD, yet I’m barricaded in, the place looks like sleeping beauty’s fortress.
The sheep now do tricks and race into the barn at the sound of my voice and a feed-bucket, to be locked in. I’m ready with reams of paper, tape recorder, camcorder, cameras and walkie talkies, to demand the name of any ‘official’ enquiring after my animals’ health and am seriously considering becoming a ‘midnight shepherd’ if need be. This is not me. I don’t recognise myself.
But I suppose if one accepts the insane but real possibility that an army of ghurkas can block off your quiet valley, carry out an assault, doing serious damage to your barn, to kill a bunch of healthy ancient ewes, a toothless tub named ‘Shauniebabe’ and a Persil-white lamb called Solo, I forgive myself for having finally ended up in the land of the bewildered.
Maybe it’s something they put in the water!!
This was an IT poster by a year 11 student:
TWICE IN LESS THAN ONE YEAR THE BRITISH ARMY HAS HAD TO FIGHT AGAINST THEIR OWN PEOPLE.
THE FIRST TIME IT WAS THE PROTESTERS BLOCKING THE OIL REFINERIES, THEN IT WAS AGAINST MY OWN FAMILY WHEN THEY KILLED OUR SHEEP.
NEXT TIME IT COULD BE YOU.
ANOTHER HORRIFIC CULL, IN SKIPTON THIS TIME!
The MAFF killing machine rolls relentlessly on. Tonight there was yet more absolutely horrific culling of biblical proportions in Skipton! As I write the killing is continuing!
I received an urgent phone call at about 21.45 tonight (Wednesday) from Judith who had just received a chilling and passionate call for help from Diane, who was at that moment watching another of MAFF’s infamous culling actions. I thanked Judith and rang Diane immediately.
They were in Engine Shed Lane in Skipton and the horrific killing was going on in front of their eyes. Not only had they chased calves in a 4x4 until they dropped exhausted, they had failed 3 times to kill a cow with a captive bolt gun! They then dragged the wounded cow up by the neck hanging from a small crane device, strangling the cow and killing it! Cows were still running wild that they could not catch. The vet then pulled out a rifle, but when he noticed Diane’s team, put the rifle away! The cows were obviously extremely disturbed, continually trying to get near their now dead calves! Only intense fear stopped them. MAFF continued to beat and kick the animals when trying to get them into crush crates!
I spoke to William, who is licensed to use a captive bolt and stated this was disgusting! He had never witnessed anything like this before! He was obviously appalled. He did not know if the cattle were infected, but reckoned they had been grazing normally that afternoon! His experience and knowledge will be very useful in court.
Diane then informed me that the Police had phoned her and said they could not do anything. I then rang Skipton direct, a brief conversation – slightly heated and then I was informed two policemen were on their way. “They will arrive in a couple of minutes, sir!” OK, fair enough. Several more people phoned and then I decided to ring Diane again. It was now midnight.
Diane said the Police had arrived, had no jurisdiction and having observed what was going on, could stomach no more! MAFF were now under lights and the Police thought they would still be there for 4 or more hours. I could hear the cattle baying in the background! Diane then told me they were now starting on the sheep! God help them! It seems there were about 150 cattle and calves.
Another fine job you’ve done Mr Blair!
One of William’s comments rang loudly in my ear after I put the phone down. “There is only one way to stop this, a revolution!” I agree, I believe that the only way to stop Blair is with huge and controlled direct action.
20 June 2001
After Nick rang last night at about 10.40pm in such a distressed state, I felt so helpless, but phoned the Skipton Police office. They just did not want to know what I was saying about these cattle being killed at night in this horrific way. They told me that if it was to do with FMD, then it was ‘up to the MAFF’. It seems as if they find it acceptable for animals to be killed in a most dreadful way at any time of day or night. It is not acceptable.
Another officer told me that they have no jurisdiction at all and told me that he would put the phone down on me. In the end I did, because they were so unhelpful and totally uncaring about what was going on.
Where is the farmer? Is he a dealer? If he was allowing this cruelty, he needs prosecuting, together with the ministry. The RSPCA must not be allowed to ignore this. It is too horrifying.
MAFF STILL trying to kill these cattle. At least 9 hours now. One cow limping very badly with severe shoulder wound! Others in severe shock. MAFF trying to use a crush crate! Animals escaping.
Blood covered MAFF officials. Blood all over public right of way! Now cleared up! Police have been there all night! “Haven’t a clue what they are doing” said W.
I have just e-mailed the Times about their article today re wild flowers in the empty of livestock meadows:
Enjoy the wild flowers while they last, these are simply the wreaths for the graves of the livestock, and only there because of the hundreds of years of grazing. By next year, docks, thistles, nettles and ragwort will take over. Shortly thereafter the land will be sold to the highest bidder; it will become another New Town, rows of houses with neat gardens, shopping malls and car parks.
Mourn the loss of the countryside while the wild flowers are still in bloom.
MAFF MOP UP IN SKIPTON
I have just returned from the site of the Skipton cull and spoke myself with a dozen or more eyewitnesses. I took photographs of machines loading the carcasses from about 150 yards, using forked loaders, which are supposed to be outlawed as they puncture the carcass.
I have a copy of a photograph taken last night about 7 pm, showing a cow being lifted by a noose suspended from a crane. This happened many times and was used to complete killing the animals, as they had not been killed by the slaughtermen using stun guns. The man who took and gave me the photograph told me that he had worked with cattle as a young man, had bred and killed them himself. He knew the right way and the wrong way to do this and he was appalled at the way it had happened. No crush was used and cattle escaped and then ran around the field in full view of people playing football at nearby Sandylands Sports Centre. He did not want me to give his name; it is possible some of you have already spoken to him.
REQUIEM FOR THE HUMBLE BEASTS
When the fields have fallen silent, and the slayers tale is told,
The humble beasts enshroud themselves in cloaks of burnished gold.
As if the final knell decreed that they should look their best,
Victims of a savage death, in robes of glory dressed.
Torn and tortured – wounded by the shot – they sway and fall,
A plaintive cry – a distant bleat – a Mother’s dying call.
Yet far on the horizon lies the gate to pastures green,
Where all God’s creatures dance and play beside the silver stream.
Where wounds are healed, where cows and calves and sheep and lambs unite,
And pigs and goats, alpacas, deer, are succoured by the light.
Safe in their haven – far from all the horrors of this world,
They bask in glory – free from pain – their golden cloaks unfurled.
A large red Snowie lorry was stopped by angry farmers this afternoon, travelling from Carleton to Elslack, as they didn’t want it spreading FMD disease in an area still currently free of infection (obviously aware of recent reports of dirty lorries in the area allegedly spreading FMD). They barricaded the road with tractors and forced the driver to get out of his cab to explain why he was there. He told those gathered that he had been given this route by the Army, as they didn’t think he could turn round on the A59 without blocking the road. He went over a cattle grid and on roads with a weight restriction. The driver was rather unpleasant and commented that he would make sure their area was next.
Well, well, well - after 120 days into farmers complying with the regulations forced upon them by your wonderful government, some of them said they had had enough. More power to ‘em! They are to be commended in every respect. This little incident, insignificant as it may seem, may have much deeper implications from the standpoint that citizens of your country actually said that they had had enough and DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT! THEY TOOK ACTION WHEN THEIR LIVELIHOODS WERE THREATENED, THEY DID SOMETHING!
Personally, I wish I could have been there to stop the lorry driver myself. He would have been dumped in his lorry with the carcasses of the animals he was hauling. Someone would have found him covered with blood and bloody good - I hope he rots in HELL. There are “clean” ways to fight a battle and there is WAR. This is war. This is not right. Those farmers mentioned here were exercising their right to protect their own livestock, livelihoods and families.
Any threat the driver made would have been washed out with soap, had my mother anything to do with it. So, farmers not yet threatened, get a darn soap bucket, stop a Snowie and wash the guy down! All you’re gonna do is “Clean their Act!”
After all, isn’t that what SOAP, WATER and DISINFECTANT are for? While you are at it, it might not hurt to take a little soap and water to - what is it? Where your MP’s gather to tear your livestock and farming industries up? Maybe they need a little scrubbing with a hard-bristle brush! After all, they are the ones that insist on cleanliness - it’s next to GODLINESS - and your officials seem to think they are GODS with regard to handling this disease!
Hang in there, kids! You are the BEST!
“The driver was rather unpleasant and commented that he would make sure their area was next” - and believe me, it will be while people like this are making easy money …… keep blocking the road, this is the action that should have been taken weeks ago ---- words will not do any more.
HERE’S BECKETT’S STANCE
Here’s the Deal - the PACKAGE - the NEW ECONOMICS OF ENGLAND!
1. Eliminate all the sheep you can - they aren’t worth much anyway and cost too much in subsidy. Doomsday to the British Wool Industry. Doomsday to British Sheep Production! You cost the country too much for no return. Therefore, as a matter of convenience, we decided to bring you a little present called FMD and get rid of you.
2. Eliminate all smallholders, they are nothing more than a thorn in the side - expendable.
3. Force all the remaining farmers into constraints so tight they can hardly comply - but they will have to purchase larger and larger newer equipment to ‘be more efficient’ when this PLAN is fully implemented.
4. Force high capital investment, in terms of machinery, buildings and other equipment - all so essentially NECESSARY for EFFICIENT PRODUCTION! (after killing about 4 million head of livestock)
5. Eliminate 80% of the producer base; concentrate on those left to deal with. Those remaining will be bigger and better in terms of manipulating them - and that can be easily done with more regulations to make them comply with everything the British government wants. Strike me dead - I stand corrected - what Romano Prodi and his EU buds want! Besides, bankers want to do business with fewer who have more money. No more small crap, please!
6. Create ‘easy financing’ - then you have ‘ them’ by the ying-yang. As long as there are direct payments or lease payments to be made, this helps your MONEY FRIENDS in the GLOBAL BANKING INDUSTRY – meanwhile, implementing a constantly-changing governmental policy that no one individual can keep up with it. More paper generated is like scientists - publish or perish! The more credit apps - the more you’re needed. The more scientific bullshit published, the more money comes down the PIKE!
7. Regulate the outlets these producers have. Get ‘em on their knees!
8. Eliminate any alternative sources of income - use any form of constraint possible - especially licences – and licence applications - fees - whatever necessary! For God’s sake, get rid of all the little abattoirs!
9. For businesses, give them a ‘bail-out’ package and finance it - then you have ‘them’ too. After all, a normal return to any investment in a business is 10% or so – but when that same business has to return 20% to keep its head above water, then that business ‘has’ to perform! Then TAX the HELL out of them! Meanwhile, tell the world how “open” your country is to Tourism! Then the tourists not only pay taxes in their own country, but pay VAT when we visit your “empty country, devoid of the very thing we came to see and enjoy”, i.e. livestock in their natural settings!
CHILDREN’S VIEW OF THE FARM TRAGEDY
(By David Brown – Daily Telegraph)
The tragedy of the foot and mouth epidemic has been graphically portrayed in pictures drawn and painted by primary school children in areas most affected by the mass destruction of farm animals. Sheep burning on funeral pyres, huge palls of smoke, columns of flames, Ministry of Agriculture officials with guns, and cows being burned in mass pits are among the scenes depicted in a project designed to help children cope with the trauma of mass slaughter.
The pupils’ work, together with pictures and poetry produced by the children in towns and cities, will be on view at an exhibition, which opens at Battersea Arts Centre in London tonight. The posters were produced by 50,000 children in primary schools under a project organised by the Countryside Alliance called “Kids Care for the Countryside – Be my friend, Draw a Picture”.
The project was designed to create new friendships between town and country and provide rural children with an outlet for their sadness at the loss of so many animals. In April the National Children’s Bureau urged that special counselling should be offered to children affected by the mass culls.
Alma Taft, the project director, who filmed a similar art project for Kosovan children in refugee camps in Macedonia two years ago, said: “Many of these children have witnessed terrible sights. They have seen the frightening spectacle of their own farm animals and those of their neighbours rounded up, shot, and piled on pyres. They experienced the overwhelming stench and smoke as they burned”.
22 June 2001
I don’t really know how to start this, because I realise that many of this Group are increasingly suffering stress, anguish and pain and, worst of all, total frustration and rage. I am trying, with my contacts to help on a long-term basis, but I wish I could turn the clock back and perhaps go back to a time when all this horror was not even a cloud on the horizon.
Each week I drive to Newcastleton; first, I drive through fields with cattle but no sheep, then for a few miles there are ewes and lambs, and then, as I cross the Border, there is nothing. There is the beautiful Border scenery, but there are no white dots, or larger brown and black patches on the distant hills, no sheep or cattle, all slaughtered for a probable negative blood test and/or a bad case of Orf.
I have stopped crying, I think my tear ducts have dried up, I feel like the sad clown who has to go into the ring three times a day and make people laugh. This is not like normal human grief, the loss of a child, a parent, a dear friend. The loss of all those dear pets we have owned over the years could not be the same. My sadness is for the human race, I have always believed that we are put on this earth to be Stewards, to care for our poor little insignificant planet, so tiny in such a Universe.
We, the Human Species, blunder away through life, most of us totally unaware of the millions of life forms within a few feet of us. I understand that life is a compromise and that for each species to survive another species will die. I cannot accept that due to some flawed ‘scientific’ plan millions of animals are slaughtered, many terrified in their last moments. This is being done by people who are the same species as me, supervised by vets, who are in the same profession as those who have cared for our pets, who have several times helped our pets to die quietly and at peace.
Around me, when I am in Carlisle, there are thousands of people going about their business, seemingly oblivious of the sadness and horror just a few miles from them. The television is on in the other room, some inane game show, some idiot who probably thinks it’s all over or who never knew about it in the first place. Somewhere along our way, we the Human Species got lost; I only hope that at the Final Judgement, whatever that is, that the small band of caring people, such as the folks on this Group, will be allowed to plead for mercy for the rest of the Human Species.
Today I am the sad old Quaker from Bewcastle.
Most everyone has a prayer in life whether they acknowledge it or not, most everyone has. I have often wondered what happened to those Heralded shepherds that tended those flocks by night 2000 years ago? I imagine them going in all the world and tending all the flocks and herds - greatly increased in their personal peace - I see them everywhere, keeping the Creator’s ways of Peace – they are of different ways and different religions perhaps, perhaps, they are of one true heart for the life as it should be here on earth. Yes, they may indeed be in the North African deserts and oases, they may indeed be in the mountains of distant Mongolia and China, they are definitely there where you are, England, Ireland, Scotland and other special spots, they may indeed be everywhere on earth, keeping in their heart this love and promise of peace - deeper love than any self righteous or follower of any religion - this heart for the animals and peace ……
One of the days I will remember during all this horror was Good Friday (probably mentioned here before) when, for the whole day, wagon after wagon of sheep and lambs drove by my house, which is in a very narrow street. The noise was unbearable. It left me with nightmares for some days and was extremely distressing on the day.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s horror in Skipton is actually now having the same effect.
My experience from Wednesday is from an enormous distance and yet I feel shock and some of the emotions that go with it. I know other people on this website feel the same and that there are people working enormously hard whilst holding down jobs as well.
The aftermath of this holocaust I think will be horrendous, both emotionally and mentally for many people, particularly those directly involved and, in some ways, for those on the periphery. As well as being an excellent place for giving and receiving information to help with any campaigning to stop this appalling slaughter, I can’t help feeling that this website also allows some outpouring of the grief and horror that is felt in these times.
The image of that poor cow suspended from a JCB bucket will live with me for a long time, however hard I try to push it away. My underlying rage that this was allowed to happen will also stay with me, long enough to continue piddling away in the background, trying to help to make a difference. My contribution feels futile and pathetic, but I’m told it is at least something.
My desire to find those people involved with Tuesday/Wednesday’s ‘hanging’ and to physically take out all my rage and anger on them knows no bounds. As I’m a complementary therapist, I’d better do something about this before I lay my hands on my next patient!
If nothing else on this group we can help each other share our emotions. There has to be a release valve – for us all!
I feel angry that so many people are either blissfully unaware of this – or have the capabilities to put their life ‘back’ together and carry on. We ourselves feel cheated that six months of this year has already gone, and what an horrendous six months. I cannot see a feed wagon (even one carrying feed) without going deathly cold and recalling pictures of when they were everywhere in Cumbria (even in our tiny hamlet) full of poor dead animals.
I look at our five pet sheep (awaiting blood tests) and think of the millions dead and for what - Blair’s project for the countryside. I do not know how this all will end – but I do know that I will never be able to look upon the countryside in the same light ever again – or feel it a place of beauty any more.
I think we each have to find our own way of getting through this holocaust as best we can. We are lucky we can share and express our feelings – I imagine there are many not so fortunate. No one to share this with but themselves.
That man has NO idea what misery and suffering he has caused – both to the animals and the people concerned.
23 June 2001
Good Friday is a day etched forever in my memory too and I share all the feelings you are having. At least we have each other to share with and know that the pain we feel is real to everybody else in this group.
Six months ago, I would never have believed that a British Government could ever behave with such complete inhumanity to man and beast. Whatever party is forming the government, I have always believed that, no matter what the flaws in policy or incompetence in some areas, the people we elect as our MP’s are basically decent men and women and as such, the government would act in an honourable way.
How wrong I was. I believe that what has happened smacks of overseas dictatorship not democracy and that the sheer disregard for our countryside, our livestock and the people involved is bordering on evil!
WHAT HAVE YOU AND YOUR GOVERNMENT DONE, TONY BLAIR?
24 June 2001
INFORMATION GIVEN TO ME BY A SLAUGHTERMAN WHO LIVES IN SOUTH POWYS
Date information provided : 7 June 2001
Whilst I know this mans’ identity, I promised him that I would not reveal it. I spoke with him on the telephone at some length and he obviously did not like what was happening even though it is his ‘job’.
He told me that on Sunday 3 June, there was a meeting held by officials and this slaughterman attended, together with other workers to receive instructions for forthcoming work. He would not say where the meeting was held, but that the meeting was about ‘orders from the MAFF’. He said that there were lorries on standby in various secret locations. 18 slaughtermen were booked into the Metropole, Llandrindod Wells, together with the Army. Also, in an hotel in Brecon, he told me.
‘The idea’ he said ‘is to clear all Powys, from Monmouth to Rhayder, the Elan Valley, Epynt, Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons. All Powys. They’ll find something’ he said, ‘ even if it’s Orf’. He said that they had been told that they would be ‘flat out’ in July and had been told not to book any holidays. He mentioned a site for burning/burial that is already earmarked, and has been cleared. I asked if it was the site near Kerry and he said ‘It might be. It has been in the paper’.
He told me that the National Parks are involved in the plan to kill off the sheep. I asked if he thought it possible that more culling would go on in Montgomeryshire and he said ‘There’s not much left in there, but we might be back round your way’.
A chilling factor of the conversation to me was that whilst this man was trying to be helpful, he is also part of the plan; one of the people whose job it is to rid us of our healthy livestock.
Last Monday, at a meeting held in Builth Wells, Powys, promises were made by the spokesman from the Welsh Assembly and also by Tony Edwards, the Divisional Veterinary Officer for Wales, that there was to be no mass cull in Powys.
However, today, Sunday 24 June, a beautiful summer’s day, hundreds of healthy animals have been killed at Libanus, near Brecon when cattle were found to be ill at a farm there. No test results are known and yet all contiguous farms have yet again been targeted, and the same old threats from the Ministry have been issued to the farmers there.
The browbeating continues, with lies of no compensation if the farmer refuses to have his healthy animals killed and if they later become infected, and that the restrictions will be lengthy if they resist. Some farmers, thank God, are fighting back and refusing the cull and are requesting that test results be made known first. They are no longer believing the lies.
Due to the way that sheep graze on the mountains in the National Park areas, all it will take is the ‘making’ of one or two cases of FMD in cattle for there to be a mass cull, particularly of sheep, in these areas. The irony is that sheep are the LEAST likely species to transmit this virus and yet it is the sheep that are being remorselessly victimised.
The way in which this most recent case of FMD has come about, when the farmer has taken all necessary precautions, really leads one to start believing that the spread of this virus is deliberate sabotage, and that the farmers are being persecuted together with their livestock.
Whoever is responsible for these literally demonic actions simply must be made accountable.
24 June 2001
In these fields
all is still
only a dark, giant heartbeat
is wrapped around
the sleeping creatures
the cudding cows
the dreaming goats
the sheep and lambs
tucked neatly under the hedge
holding them safe
from the white-coated light
25 June 2001
The Killing in Libanus – mass cull apparently underway in spite of assurances given as late as June 18th at Builth Wells. Extraordinary lack of consistency in policy.
“Cattle were slaughtered on clinical diagnosis on Friday/Saturday at Libanus (Brecon, Powys). Six contiguous farms are being slaughtered today (Sunday, 24th). All roads closed in the area and the army out in force. So much for no mass cull in Powys! We are contiguous to a farm which was slaughtered on clinical diagnosis only at the end of April in Powys. The local policy then was to wait for results of the blood testing before deciding whether to slaughter the contiguous premises. What’s going on at Libanus? The same policy should apply”.
This was received today. N.B. There are NO records available of a single positive result of blood testing in Powys from the 58 “confirmed” cases on the MAFF/DEFRA website.
5 July, 2001
Elliot Morley, Parliamentary under Secretary of State at DEFRA, said re the control of foot and mouth vaccines by Member States:
“Legislation to correct this position had been prepared and would have been introduced had the limited programme of vaccination planned in North Cumbria gone ahead in the spring.
“As the Government’s policy of control and eradication of foot and mouth took hold, the vaccination programme and the legislation did not go ahead. The Government position maintains that vaccination is a contingency option in the control and eradication of the current foot and mouth outbreak.
“The number of cases has fallen to an average of two to three a day and it is felt that vaccination is not appropriate to the current situation”.
17 July, 2001
Letter from my son:
Here is the text from the Martin Samuel column in the Express from Friday, 13 July, with a letter purporting to corroborate the Green Howards letter that you sent me:
‘The soldier from the Howards is right. They had the UK side of the Welsh border and had some shit jobs. But the Army/Navy/RAF on the Welsh side had an equally bad time of it. You want the proof of what we had to do? Ask the following questions to a military source:
a) Why was Payment for Work of an Objectionable Nature authorised at the higher rate? This is normally reserved for dealing with human remains, yet the Army approved payment for all personnel involved in the Op.
b) Why did we need padres in the field and how many people have reported to the welfare services with problems arising from the Op? The initial phase of the Op was during the lambing season. When a sheep is killed, it spontaneously aborts. That is why we were slitting the throats of unborn lambs. Can you imagine what it is like to be covered in blood, brains and snot for 18 hours a day, then going back to rotting carcasses the next day to do it all over again? All for an extra 15 quid – taxable!
The slaughterers could not keep up with the task and MAFF was a shambles. It used the forces to readjust its Op orders because the ministry couldn’t cope. It needed a cull more than the animals. The reports died down during the election run-up, but look at the increase now. Makes sense, does it?
The Government made a major stuff-up and we had to cover it. Look at the firemen’s strike in Liverpool – we are being used as free labour to keep Tony Blair happy. Things are happening now that if we weren’t used, the Government couldn’t cope. People are getting sick of it. We cannot take leave, we lose time with our families and we are expected to cope and not tell people’.
As yet, no response from the new-style Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or the Government. Strange, that!
18 July, 2001
CUMBRIA IS OPEN!!
VISIT BLAIR’S KILLING FIELDS
TAKE PICTURES AT GREAT ORTON! SEE THE GRAVES OF 4 MILLION ANIMALS
VISIT THE SITE WHERE 42,000 SHEEP WERE KILLED IN ONE DAY
MEET LOCAL NFU REPS WHO ACTUALLY SPEAK FOR LOCAL FARMERS AND ONLY REPRESENT 29%
SEE WHERE THOSE BRAVE MAFF VETS SMASHED LAMBS’ HEADS WITH IRON BARS
SMELL THAT REAL SMELL OF DEATH
PLAY I SPY SHEEP
IN FACT, PLAY I SPY ANY FARM STOCK
FREE AND SIGNED PICTURES OF ARMY HERO AND CHAMPION LAMB KILLER, BRIGADIER BIRTY BIRTWHISTLE
HAVE DINNER WITH ANDREW HAYWOOD, CUMBRIA’S FAMOUS CHIEF VET. LAMB ON THE MENU
VISIT NATURAL FIELDS FULL OF WEEDS AND SEEDED GRASS
TRAVEL FOR MILES WITHOUT BEING BOTHERED WITH THE SMELLS OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
FOR THAT EXTRA SPECIAL HOLIDAY TREAT, VISIT A MASS KILLING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE! SEE THOUSANDS OF ANIMALS BEING MURDERED BY IGNORANT CRETINS
DON’T BE BOTHERED BY WORKING SHEEPDOGS – NONE LEFT!
USE A .22 RIFLE AMD TAKE POT SHOTS AT DEFENCELESS CALVES WHILST BEING DRIVEN AT 50 MPH ON THE BACK OF A QUAD. FEEL FOR REAL HOW OUR HEROES DID IT!
SPREAD FMD WHERE YOU WANT! WALK ALL OVER THE FELLS! GO ANYWHERE! FINISH THE LAST DREGS OFF!
ALSO, CUT YOUR OWN INFECTED TONGUE FROM THE ANIMAL OF YOUR CHOICE – THEN PLACE IN ANY FIELD YOU LIKE! BUT ONLY IF YOU CAN FIND THE CLEAN STOCK
BUY YOUR OUTDOOR BARGAINS. LOADS OF SALES GOING ON!
WALK THE STREETS OF OUR TOWNS IN PEACE
WATCH FAMOUS KILLING TEAMS IN ACTION – “THE GOD SQUAD” & “THE LIVERPOOL BOYS”
PICK YOUR OWN PYRE ASH! TAKE SOME HOME. REAL INFECTED BSE ASH!
COMING SOON – PLENTY OF CHEAP PROPERTIES TO CHOOSE FROM! LOTS OF AUTHENTIC FARMHOUSES!
23 July, 2001
DEFRA are using the MOD camp on the A40 at Crickhowell as a base. The sheep rounded up from up from the Sugarloaf Mountain are/have been killed in the back valley up from Llandenny just behind the army camp. Access to the village is closed except for residents - 3,500 sheep were lost in the contiguous cull. They are feeling very isolated and forgotten. Glangrwyney has lost virtually all its livestock. As has already been reported by Sheri, the Brecon Beacon sheep are being rounded up and tested. The Black Mountain hefted flocks are already decimated, from the Sugarloaf Mountain area cull, despite assurances from DEFRA that hefted flocks would be protected. FMD could well be endemic in the whole area. The Black Mountain and Brecon Beacon National Park livestock is in grave danger. The Eastern low-lying Golden Valley, Herefordshire is also vulnerable. Army troops have been mobilised to South/Mid Wales for 3 weeks now. The area is so rural, that DEFRA/MOD can close off villages without anyone noticing, they did that here in the Forest of Dean, but they learnt a few lessons, no bonfires, people tend to notice, they must be burying the animals somewhere. The Royal Forest of Dean was the first area with hefted flocks to be culled out completely, the Black Mountains could well be the second; sorry Nick, I know so well how you feel in Cumbria, but it’s too far away from me to help you there, got to try to protect South Wales at the moment. Went to Bracknell yesterday, Berkshire, spoke to some people there – FMD went away in May/June according to them, and this is the tail end of the epidemic, dying (sorry about the irony) away.
27 July 2001
E-MAILS ABOUT THE UNIQUE HEFTED FLOCKS – THAT ARE IRREPLACEABLE
I thought it might interest some of you to have more information on hefted flocks and why it is so important that these flocks should not be lost as replacement could be extremely difficult, even if possible.
Hefted flocks will graze during the day within a self imposed restricted area (which can be extremely large), usually in family groups. Each group will return to their own selected camping ground for the night, as sheep do not move around in the dark, unlike many herbivores.
There is a strong maternal hierarchy, and ewes will return every year to the spot where they were themselves born in order to give birth. Rams, out of the breeding season, will form all-male clubs. Although they disassociate themselves from the womenfolk, they obviously don't object to playing with the kids from time to time! I have seen rams surrounded by young lambs, who were allowed to jump all over them!
It is these characteristics in mountain breeds that permit farmers to shepherd them. Hill farmers know exactly where their flock is likely to be at any given time. The loss of such flocks spells disaster for the hill farmer as you can imagine.
Now for the stategy! It is widely recognised that a reduction in the number of mountain sheep is desirable, but instead of wiping out whole flocks, would it not be an idea to cull selectively - notably those that have tested positive to antibodies as this appears to be the fashion even if ridiculous - and VACCINATE a nucleus of breeding ewes from EACH INDIVIDUAL FLOCK in order to ensure the survival of every flock? Yes, this would involve more extensive blood testing and I would actually do it the other way round - a nucleus flock of ewes with antibodies, which had presumably developed an immunity to FMD, could be a very viable prospect for the future. I would have thought it perfectly possible to keep these flocks away from the holdings or at least away from cattle, by the strategic use of electric fencing An idea such as this might keep the farmers happy as they would get compensation as well as keeping some of their ewes, and also keep the government, so keen to slaughter, happy with a compromise.
Has anyone else any ideas on avoiding the potential disaster of a clearance policy of the Welsh hills? Or Cumbria? Or Yorkshire ?
Tessa, your description of hefted flocks is wonderful and, if they were lost, a great deal of magic would go with it. Sadly, one of the most 'magic' flock of hefted Herdwicks was culled in the Central Lakes, Hazel Head Farm, 2000 of them, and they did not have it, I was told. I used to take people to see them - at late afternoon, or dusk they came, hundreds of them, on little sheep tracks from all Birker Moor, over the fells, to one cattle grid to spend the night, lying on the road, or just beside it. I'm sure there was nothing at that spot that was special to bring them there, just a compulsion bred through generations. We've got so few left and it is such a tragedy. There is a little hope, as about a couple of dozen crafty ones escaped and hid themselves in the snow when the rest was culled. Although they planned to kill them, they have now been tested and found to be negative. Hopefully, there are enough of them to teach the young ones and, if not, I suppose their magical evening gathering will just be a memory for us.
While I hugely sympathise with what's happening in Cumbria, I am tragically sorry to say that we have lost not some but ALL of our hefted sheep in our particular area; no economic argument at all, they were all condemned, when infection was found in a few, in the Forest of Dean, West Gloucestershire. What we are trying to do here is learn from the holocaust in April, to help our adjoining areas, and the Brecons and Black Mountains is closest. Well done, Nick, on your efforts and meeting. Perhaps JD doesn’t know of the MOD camp at Crickhowell and the cull that went on, without any media attention, of the hefted sheep off the Sugarloaf Mountain, about 3,500, last week, let alone others taking place secretly.
LETTER TO PRINCE OF WALES
My son has written the following letter. I didn’t know. He brought it to me finished and had added a picture of a happy live sheep and an unhappy dead one with its legs in the air, lying in a pool of blood. It brought tears to my eyes to read it. I have typed it out just as he wrote it, spelling mistakes and all:
“Dear Royal Hiness Prince Charles. My name is William. I am 11 years old. I am writing this letter in English because I don’t know if you can understand Welsh. I live on a sheep farm in the Brecon Beecons National Park. Please can you help save the rest of our sheep because they have alredy killed thousands of them today on the mountain you are the prince of wales in school we learned that in olden times the prince of wales was the rwler, everybody had to do what he said. can you tell the people not to kill our sheep otherwise there wont be any left. My mam and my dad have been crying a lot and it makes me sad and makes my tummy feel funny when they cry. I always help my mam and dad with the lambs and the shearing and I want to be a farmer but if you kill the arosfa sheep the new sheep will walk off the mountain and they wont know where to stay. our farm is below the mountain and our sheep arnt on the mountain but dad says they will come to test the sheep by here as well. i don’t want them to kill our sheep they are NOT ill. lots of sheep are been killed on the mountain up by storey arms and today they are not ill. why cant you make a law so they cant kill them please help them please. from william”.
28 July, 2001
Heard this gem today:
‘Morley said vaccination had not been ruled out. “Vaccination remains an option to us”, he said. He then added, “Vaccination is a problem in sheep. I’m not aware of any country that does vaccinate sheep in relationship to foot and mouth”.’
Isn’t it time that you got yourself educated, Mr. Morley?
2 August, 2001
Lord Whitty said last night, “I intend to reassure farmers that we have not got any hidden plan and there is no plan to abolish the sheep industry. We are not in the business of the demolition of the countryside and we are all rather tired of these rural myths and anecdotes”.
Oh, well, that’s all right then!!
3 August, 2001
I have just had another call from Nick – he is watching hundreds of sheep being driven off the moor at Orton Scar. A terrified lost lamb cowering at the side of the road on its own, while slaughter is taking place in the adjacent field. Nick is very distressed, he can’t find out who the owner of the sheep is. He screamed at me down the phone – “Jane, we’ve got to stop this! – They’re taking the animals out of Cumbria”.
He told me that he had just driven 25 miles from his home and every field was empty, where a week ago there had been livestock in them.
I have also spoken to another farmer whose friend is losing his animals today. Deemed a Dangerous Contact. The DVM (Hayward) at Carlisle agreed to monitor his animals and they were last inspected yesterday morning and declared healthy. At 5 pm last evening, the DVM called the farmer and told him, “Page Street has decided your animals are to go – they will be culled in the morning”. They are dying now!
Please telephone your MP, DEFRA Carlisle (tel: 01228 591999), David McClean, MP Cumbria (tel: 016974-78519), your local press, the national press. Demand that this evil slaughter must stop and they must vaccinate now!
It is now official! I MUST be insane! POLICY, according to DEFRA this morning, has invoked the mass killing of ALL Orton Scar’s sheep today! I watched this tragedy!
One lamb was laying down cowering and shivering by the side of the road, waiting for 6 inches of hardened steel to smash his skull apart! I watched Border Collies gather the last dregs of livestock from the moor; unwittingly sending these wretched animals to a scandalous death, based on nothing more than a madman’s POLICY!
This will remain, as all the other incidents I have witnessed over the last 5 months, engraved on my memory forever.
I drove home listening to the tape – A ROAD TO HELL!
I am insane!
ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED EWES & LAMBS!!!! ALL HEALTHY!
AT 18.11 FRIDAY 3 AUGUST 2001 THESE HEFTED FLOCKS NO LONGER EXIST
7 August, 2001
DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY HAVE BEEN KILLED ON THE BEACONS?
This is a quote from a previous posting (South Wales Incinerated), which I read yesterday:
‘About 10,000 Welsh Mountain sheep have been killed in the last 2 weeks, let alone the contiguous culls in the valleys, for which we have no figures.’
I decided to look on the Brecon Beacons National Park’s own website to see if there were any figures there and was dismayed at what I read (under heading of Foot and Mouth – Frequently Asked Questions). There are approximately 1 million sheep grazing within the Park. To date, around 100,000 (one hundred thousand) have been culled.
Read it yourselves if you don’t believe what you are seeing – www.breconbeacons.org. I appreciate that this figure is likely to include the lambs as well as the breeding ewes (lambs don’t exist as far as government figures are concerned, do they?) but even assuming half of them are lambs, 50,000 is a lot more than the official figures tell us have been culled.
A very black joke going round the farming community explains the mass killings in Katmandu of most of the Nepalese royal family:
“Those MAFF vets must have had another wrong map reference!”
14 August 2001
Come to the FFA demo on Monday, 20th August, Hyde Park 1 pm and help demand vaccination and a public inquiry. Vaccination might have prevented this:-
Farmer Jo Jones had a herd of 228 Friesian cows; then foot-and-mouth struck. This is her story:
“The best cow, Darling, we just shouted her name and she’d come. Oh God, she was so special, they were all so special. She was an extraordinary cow. She used to kiss me goodbye every night. I’d go round the cows, she’d always follow me round. I used to say “Night” and she’d kiss me every single night. But not last night. Last night I saw her burn.
At 12 o’clock last night I went out and sat with them and watched my cows burn. I felt I had to be there for them. It was the most surreal experience I can imagine. Sitting there last night watching my cows burn was bizarre. It was so peaceful. There were two guys sitting there who came with the machinery and we sat on straw chatting. I expected the fire to go off with a whoosh, but coal burns slowly and so do cows, I can tell you. I sat there for two-and-a-half hours until I saw the cows disappear. I just focussed on one face until she was gone.
Everyone who has been involved has been very, very compassionate. I think they can see the grief. I have to keep going outside to scream occasionally and yesterday, when I was screaming, my husband, Win, came to me. I said, “Leave me be. This is how I need to cope. Don’t worry about me, I’m not going to do anything silly”. I know I need to scream again. You live hour by hour.
We knew the cows inside out, absolutely everything. There were 228 of them, pedigree Friesians, and I could have told you who every one was with my eyes shut just by feeling their udders. I can see every one of my cows in my mind. I could draw a picture of them for you. I can see every marking in those cows, their faces, their expressions.
We really, really did love them totally and absolutely. There’s no taking that away. Every one of them. They were so tame. Lottie, my daughter, is ten and she knows every one of those cows. Of course they were branded, but my daughter didn’t need to see the numbers to know who they were. I’d say that since she was six, she’s known more than 90 per cent of that herd by sight, she knew who their mother was, who their father was. She used to spend hours with the cows.
She’d come home from school, skip outside and be there for two or three hours. “I’m all right, I’m with the mogs,” she’d say – mogs is the old Welsh term for cows.
Once we were suspicious about the foot-and-mouth, we knew. It was Saturday morning and Win and I both knew when we were milking them. One cow, called Bluebell Roebuck Lottie – she was named after our daughter – her milk was down. We looked into her mouth and saw the blisters. The skin fell off her tongue. It was raw.
We didn’t say anything, we just hugged each other. I stood there and sobbed. We went round the rest of the cows and there were another two or three suspicious cases. It was my job to ring the vet, which I did at 10.30 am. We didn’t need to be with them at that stage, they had been milked and fed, so we waited for the ministry vet to appear, which wasn’t until 2 pm. We were expecting someone far sooner and we sat inside. I don’t think we talked much, we just sat, comatose, blank, drinking coffee, thinking how are we going to get through this, wondering if we would be brave enough. We knew the worst and we wanted to get on with it at that stage.
When the vet came we had to run all the cows out into the yard. The vet took notes of any who were drooling or lame and took samples from the particularly sick cows and sent them off for analysis. We didn’t need anyone to tell us yes or no; we knew.
We put them back and came and sat round the table and we all cried, including the vet. We cried non-stop until 6 pm, then the vet rang with the results and it was confirmed. Then we went out to milk them. I spent the rest of the night on the phone talking to people. Lottie was really strong on the Saturday, much braver than us.
We went out to the cows again at quarter to five on Sunday morning, when we milked them and fed them. That was the worst bit. We finished work and we were back inside by 8 am and the men with the digger turned up at 12 noon.
When we were valuing them, Lottie was running around screaming, “Please get me off the farm”. I’ve no idea how long it lasted, it seemed like a lifetime. We’ve got ponies and I tried to distract her. I said, “We’ll get you off the farm, let’s get the ponies in”, which we did.
Of course we said goodbye to the cows. After we finished valuing them, we all went and gave Darling one last kiss, yes of course. I just went and hugged Darling. She was that sort of character. When they were valuing them, she was chasing the valuer round the yard. If you called her in the field, she came to you like a cat or a dog. She made me feel good. They all did. She was the extraordinary one, I’ve never had one quite like her and never will again.
Lottie saw the diggers come. They had to grant her a licence to get off the farm to go to a neighbour’s, and had to bring her a set of clothes in a sealed bag. She had a shower and washed her hair and put the clothes on, virtually with the ministry watching. She was given a sealed outfit and they said to us, “Don’t kiss her, don’t touch her”. Then she went.
I didn’t go and see the cows again. The slaughterman said, “Get indoors”. Then it was just bang, bang, bang. He started shooting about 6 pm on Sunday. The last ones were very close to the house. I lost it then and screamed and screamed. Even with the music absolutely flat out I could still hear it.
It took nearly two hours. Local farmers were ringing up, grown men sobbing, “I can hear them shooting”. It just went on and on and on. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, we had 300 phone calls in one day and that’s the only way we’ve been able to cope. One of the valuers, who is a close friend, rang and said, “I can’t sleep, I can’t operate, I can’t value any more cows. I can’t go through the trauma again”.
Win and I stayed indoors. On Monday I was awake at 5 as usual, hearing these massive great machines creeping round the building loading up the cows. I said to Win that I was going to see the fire. The MAFF guy said, “We’re not going to let you go in the cubicles, it’s too horrific”. I saw this digger and saw piles of cows. I recognised a few of the numbers.
On Monday night I said, “I’ve got to go and see them”. Win said, “I don’t know if I can, but I can’t let you go on your own”. I couldn’t go far, I just saw a couple of cows and had to go back indoors again. It was all part of the exorcism.
Today I woke up and thought, “I’m going to be strong”. I said to Win, “If I need to scream again, just let me. Don’t come and comfort me, just let me grieve”. I’ve been around all the sheds and seen the blood, smelt the smell of death – and it does smell, an unforgettable stench. Just death. I haven’t eaten since Friday night. I ate something a couple of days ago and was sick the next morning.
I’m 39. I was from the city, from Sheffield, but I was born in an old farmhouse so farming was in my blood. I went to agricultural college and managed a big pedigree herd in Norfolk. I worked for the NFU and then I met Win and we married 12 years ago and I gave up my job to come here to Church Stoke in Mid-Wales. So it’s always been my life.
Our future looks pretty bleak now. We are both incredibly hard-working. We work 14 hours a day and don’t take holidays. We have to restructure our life to cope with that lack of routine. We are obviously going to get out and help with the clean-up process. We’ve got to be there. It will be six months before we can restock and we will never be able to restock with this sort of cow. Nothing will ever replace them.
Financially we are unemployed. They were producing £600 of milk a day. How do you make that sort of money? But I don’t want any money, I want my cows back, please. I want to be out there getting shitty. They trusted you, you never hurt them and they had no reason to think any differently. The average herd age is two-and-a-half years, we had a lot of cows that were 10 or 12 years old, because we looked after them so well.
Ultimately, we were running a business and when they were too old you had to send them to market. They had certificates and that’s the way it has to be done. We would never have got rid of Darling, though, she was there for life. No doubt about that. We used to laugh and say if we ever had to retire, we would have to find a place with a patch of grass for Darling.
At the moment I can’t imagine tomorrow but, if I’ve learnt anything through this devastating experience, it has restored my faith in human nature. A man who had seen me on television rang to say that watching us had rocked his little community. He ran a bed and breakfast and said that if we ever need a holiday, we must stay there free of charge.
Then there’s Lottie. For three weeks we can see her over the fence but we can’t touch her, we can’t kiss her. It’s her birthday next week. We can’t get presents to her but, after all she’s been through, she can have anything she wants when she gets back. When we said to her on Saturday that she wouldn’t be having a birthday, she said, “I don’t care, Mum, it doesn’t matter”. She’s brave beyond means.
The only thing I think is that we’ve got through it. If someone had told me a week ago that we would go through this, I’d have been so scared that I wouldn’t have been able to make it. We have, and I want people to know how horrific this is.”
1 September, 2001
A LETTER TO DEFRA
I am contacting you just to let you have some further information on the ‘pot shots’ cull in Northumberland last week. The information I have was that the incident took place at Stone Hall Farm on 25 August and was witnessed by a Mr. D. Mr. D. witnessed animals not rounded up panicking, some of which were so distressed they were attempting to climb over fences to get away. I have informed Mike Butcher from the RSPCA Northumberland division.
This is not an isolated incident, as there are many reports that I am aware of where cattle have been shot at indiscriminately, e.g. ‘As the slaughterman began work, 19 of the animals panicked and escaped from the pens, stampeding across fields on at least two neighbouring farms. Officials confirmed animals in contact with the marauding herd would also be shot. The farmer said the animals escaped after slaughtermen started taking ‘pot shots’ at them. The cattle were going beserk. I have never seen anything like it in my life. MAFF confirmed last night that two bullocks were still unaccounted for’. (The Times, Tuesday, May 15th, reporter Simon de Bruselles).
I have also heard from a source in MAFF that quad bikes have been used to drive up to cattle to break their legs, so that they can slaughter them without having to chase them around.
At the moment, Allendale is a no-go zone while your slaughter teams act completely unsupervised, as it is known that vets are sometimes asked to go and sit in their cars while the slaughter takes place. Even when the vets are there to watch the slaughter, they have allowed appalling acts of slaughter to take place. One farmer told me of how he went out to find slaughtermen and the vet standing by a fence shooting into his barn where the cattle were. There are farmers who are still having to have therapy after having witnessed some of the most perverse acts of violence. If you still don’t believe me, how about this account:
‘It took 20 shots to kill five cattle. On Tuesday, villagers looked down on the killing grounds to see one bullock go down twice before a third shot finished it off. Another was hit in the spine, losing the use of its back legs. It was left pitifully trying to raise itself on its front legs until the slaughtermen returned. It was not until the next day that they found and shot the last of the herd.’ (The Western Daily Press, 17th May, reporter Chris Rundle)
‘The slaughter team consisted of two men with captive bolts and one man with a knife. They were shooting them in the top and the back of the head. When the procedure began, the sheep panicked. Some were not killed straight away and sat on their haunches with their eyes rolling. Others flipped backwards and were clearly not unconscious or dead. Some live ones were trapped under shot sheep. The slaughterman who carried the knife walked around and poked them in the eyes to check for signs of life, and cut the throats of the sheep who were still alive. We returned to the second cull after 45 minutes. I was shocked at what I saw on my arrival; in one pile of bodies there were still some sheep and lambs alive. Most had their throats cut and seemed to be drowning in their own blood. Others were shot but clearly not dead. One of the slaughtermen said, “These lambs are taking a bit of a killing”.’ (The Sunday Telegraph, 19th August).
The above quote in the Telegraph was from a sheep farmer, who has recently given a statement to the RSPCA about the slaughter, to establish a case. They told him, “This is just the tip of the iceberg”.
Excuses like “this is a crisis” and “in hindsight” do not hold any water anymore. Apart from the fact that the above acts are illegal (Welfare and Slaughter Act 1995), it is just a bloody disgrace, and your department should be ashamed of what is being allowed to happen, mainly through improper supervision and inadequate training.
“In memory of the most lovely pets we were fortunate to love and have,
But sadly not forever.
We could hardly believe it when we heard the news today
Tell me, how are we supposed to live without you
When we’ve been loving you so long?
Tell me how are we supposed to carry on
When all that we are living for is gone?
Written from the bottom of our hearts”
(This was written by Christine, who lost a battle in court to save her animals from slaughter. They were the particular pets of her son, Joseph, who has cerebral palsy and learning difficulties.)
I. AN E-MAIL WRITTEN MANY MONTHS AFTER A CULL:
On April 1st and April 2nd, I personally went through something that has changed me forever....
I am probably permanently unhinged now, and I suffer from what I saw everyday.
My five cows, who were all over 15 years old and who were part of my Family, were shot dead in my building. My ewes were shot, some while they were in the process of lambing.
A slaughterer told me later, that he was told to gut the ewes when they were put on the pyre, and he removed lambs from inside them which were still alive. He said that he had vomited into the mask he was wearing.
My partner, Nick, was told by the slaughter vet, four days afterwards, that the killing of our animals had been pointless. We had to watch our animals burning across the valley for ten days.
My animals were my whole life. The last thing I would ever do would be to go out over my fields and shoot dead a pheasant. We have pheasants, deer, foxes, badgers living on our farm, and if any tree huggers on this site want to come and see them, that would be great.
II. A POEM WRITTEN AT SCHOOL BY JACK, AGED 11, LONG AFTER THE ANIMALS ON HIS FARM WERE KILLED
I treasure my Mum
I treasure my Dad
I treasure my dog and all my pets
But the most thing that I treasure is my sheep
She has two lambs a year
I like how she runs up the hill to greet me
And when I sit down
She lies down beside me
We had 201 sheep
But the one I liked best was my sheep Lucy
But one day she got culled because of Foot and Mouth
I cried that night like I have never cried before
And so did my Mum and Dad
We were going to lose about 500 animals
My Dad treasured all his cows and his steers
It was hard to see my Dad cry
I miss my sheep Lucy
My Mum misses her favourite cow
And so does my Dad
But I still feel bad inside
And I always imagine Lucy in my mind
That’s my sheep Lucy
III. POEM BY KATRINA PORTEOUS
AN ILL WIND
Hiss of the breeze in the high horsechestnut
Over the yard;
Over the worn stones of the hemmel,
Not a word.
No sharp-pricked prints by the drinking trough.
No muck. No stink. The flies
Wash their hands on the thistle-tops;
And the breeze
Ruffles the feathery grass that grows
A shock of yellow ragwort choking the gate
It’s a long, long way from the capital to the Severn Acre Field,
And it’s too far to shout,
It’s too far to say
And it’s getting farther every day,
And the knackerman,
Aye, the knackerman,
The knackerman’s in the cattleshed now.
Say we’re lost in a forest of paper – drowned in a river of ink,
Trapped like a ewe in a fathom of snow,
With a licence to come
And a licence to go,
And tomorrow a licence to think;
But it’s too far to shout,
It’s too far to say
And it’s getting farther every day,
And the knackerman,
Aye, the knackerman,
The knackerman’s in the cattleshed now.
‘There’s plenty’ll ride on the back a this trouble’,
Says Jack a’ the Garage. ‘Aye, if th’ could,
Wi’ sheep th’ cannot move nor sell, they’d be better off havin’ it.
It’s an ill wund blaa’s naebody good.’
‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about’, says Jenny from Telesales.
‘They’d be killing them anyway in the end. The tears are a sham;
Quite hypocritical, really.’ ‘Aye’, says the wind in the heather,
‘But yowes full a lambs…..’
‘Whae, there’s a time for aal things,’ says old man Robson
To his grizzled collie. ‘We’re finished, lad, an’ that’s a fact;
Aah’d sooner hev a lifetime a debt on me doorstep
An’ me cattle back.’
Whae, Aah’m telin’ ye noo, though ye might no believe me,
Whether it’s age, noo Aah’m varnigh seventy,
This has been warse than a deeth in the family:
The knackerman’s in the cattleshed now.
First they shut the slaughterhouse and the little, local marts;
The sheep and the cattle will have to travel,
It’s a long way,
It’s a hard way,
And it’s too far to shout,
It’s too hard to say
And it’s getting harder every day
When you’re all ravelled up in the paperchase,
So you’d better shut your eyes and pray
It’s a long road from the subsidy
To signing the last of your freedom away.
It’s a long, long road from the cattleshed to what the nation’s papers say;
But it’s close as a kiss to the capital,
And it’s getting closer every day,
And the knackerman,
Aye, the knackerman,
The knackerman’s in the cattleshed now.
Hiss of the breeze in the high horsechestnut
Over dead ground;
Beneath the looming, windowless bastle,
Not a sound.
Between the cobbles, scraped like dinner-plates
Not a hair, not a straw, not a speck of muck.
The reivers have been.
The reivers have been and taken our sheep and cattle
And tied our hands,
And the brambles ravel like wires, and the fells blacken
To No Man’s Land.
Once they capped the colliery shaft, it was goodbye ships and steel,
And it all seemed far from the cattle-mart and the Seven Acre Field;
Then the fishing fleet burned on the beach and it’s farewell all our boats:
And now it’s the power to feed ourselves that’s going up in flames and smoke.
And it’s too far to shout,
It’s too far to say,
And it’s getting farther every day,
For the knackerman,
Aye, the knackerman,
The knackerman’s in the cattleshed now.
Aye, the knackerman.
These are the seven silences of a black season:
First, all movement frozen. Shut down
The invisible machinery of the countryside – the hunt, the patter,
The auctioneer’s song.
Next comes the silence you wait for the telephone to shatter.
You can’t sleep. Can’t eat. The silence of fear
Crackles like electricity down the wires; and the silence of paper
Drifts like snow through the door.
Such a queer thing to tell in sheep: a lamb a bit ‘hangy’
Or a ewe that will not come to the trough.
Ice-sharp, the silence after the vet has given his verdict.
This is the silence of disbelief.
The next silence is the worst silence. This is the silence
Of the steaming kitchen at three a.m.
When half the cattle lie stiff in the yard and half are still waiting.
This is a silence with no name.
The sixth silence is the silence of grass growing,
Oceans of grass that hush, hush in the wind.
It is hard to get used to this silence: grass growing, and questions
Swelling like streams underground.
And what will you do with all the questions? When a whisper, a rush, a torrent
Bursts from the farmyard into Whitehall, what will you get?
Nothing but frozen faces, and the last silence:
A barred gate.
And it’s a long way from Westminster to the cattle at the wagon-gate,
And it’s a long way from the heather hill to the gravy on your plate;
It’s a long, long way from the gaucho’s pay,
It’s more than half the world away,
When he’s only earning a quid a day,
And that’s the meat
For it’s too far to shout,
It’s too hard to say
And it’s getting harder every day,
And the knackerman,
Aye, the knackerman,
The knackerman’s in the cattleshed now,
The knackerman’s in the cattleshed, now
(Katrina has written this most incredible poem, capturing so many different aspects of the FMD situation.
It was commissioned by Radio 3’s Poetry Proms and you can visit www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/speech/poetryproms.shtml and listen, through your tears, to her reading it aloud)
FOOT AND MOUTH – THE FACTS
This is an overview of FMD, which was written in July 2001 by Alan Beat:
? Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is an unpleasant viral condition that affects cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. Clinical signs include blisters on the mouth and feet, reduced milk yield, high temperatures and lameness. Symptoms are very mild (often non-existent) in sheep, while pigs and cattle are more seriously affected. Some young sheep may die, although adults normally make a full recovery.
? FMD is endemic throughout two-thirds of the world, where sporadic outbreaks account for some reduction in productivity in the order of 10%. Many of these countries leave an outbreak to run its course, nursing the few really sick animals through it, and allowing natural resistance to develop within their livestock.
? Some countries choose to use vaccination against FMD in one of two ways: as a prophylactic, using mass vaccination of all livestock; or more commonly, by ring vaccination to contain an outbreak within a restricted area. With the first method no slaughter is involved; with the second method, slaughter may be confined to unvaccinated livestock at the source of the outbreak, or it may include all vaccinated stock as well (as in the Netherlands recently) once the outbreak is over.
? No country in the world has ever attempted to control and epidemic by slaughter alone on the scale of the present UK outbreak.
? Many international experts in the field believe that the UK should have used vaccination to damp down the epidemic and allow the slaughter of remaining infected animals to proceed at a reduced and more manageable rate.
? Vaccination does not mean acceptance that FMD has become endemic in the UK. On the contrary, many believe it enables the disease to be brought under control more quickly, then eliminated to enable a faster return to FMD-free status than the present slaughter policy.
? The National Farmers Union has opposed vaccination on fears that are groundless. Meat and milk from vaccinated stock is safe to eat, there are no human health implications, and international trading can resume within twelve months of the last FMD case. Misinformation has confused the picture for many farmers who have listened to their leaders instead of to independent and informed advice. The NFU has only 53,000 members out of 180,000 UK farmers, so it speaks for less than one in three. Many independent farmers want vaccination to protect their stock, but their views are not represented at government level.
? The UK policy as currently applied includes the slaughter of large numbers of healthy animals on farms adjacent to infected premises. This is wasteful, morally wrong and actually slows down the rapid culling of diseased stock that is crucial to the slaughter strategy.
? The sensible modern strategy is to vaccinate to protect all livestock in areas affected by FMD. Movement restrictions alongside controlled slaughter of only infected livestock can then eliminate the disease within a matter of weeks. Vaccinated stock can be registered and live out a normal life span or enter the food chain as appropriate. This strategy has proved to be effective during many outbreaks in other countries.
? In contrast, the current UK slaughter policy is unproven and has risked either complete failure or, at least, a lengthy “tail” period as the epidemic subsides. Either case will incur far higher costs to the UK economy and far higher numbers of healthy livestock slaughtered unnecessarily.
Slaughter statistics for the UK outbreak (at 13th July 2001)
Number of animals slaughtered for disease control 3.5 million
Number of animals slaughtered on welfare grounds 2 million
Note that young stock are not included in the above figures, eg lambs, calves, piglets, nor are “voluntary culls” such as the 3km “firebreaks” in Cumbria and Wales, so the total figure is probably between 7 and 8 million animals so far.
The perceived need to regain FMD-free status relates to UK agriculture exports of around £300 million a year. However, nearly all of this export trade (£250 million) is lamb sent to EU countries, while imports of lamb from New Zealand are much the same total. In other words the UK is only just self-sufficient in lamb and has no real need to export any.
Against the perceived export trade benefit to the UK must be balanced the economic cost of pursuing the slaughter policy. Direct compensation paid or promised to farmers is £2.2 billion so far and rising rapidly, but this pales to insignificance beside the damage inflicted upon the wider economy. It is estimated that the tourism and leisure industry alone has been losing £100 million a week, while estimates for the total cost to the country as a whole are running at around £20 billion. There is no economic case for regaining FMD-free status by means of the current slaughter policy.
Controversy and misinformation surrounds the airborne spread of FMD. Past studies had shown that pigs, in particular, exhaled huge quantities of virus into the air, producing “plumes of infection that could spread the disease over long distances under certain atmospheric conditions. Cattle and sheep were far less infectious and were predicted to spread the virus a maximum distance of 3kms.
But the “O” strain of virus responsible for the current UK outbreak has been shown over the last few years to have much less potential for airborne spread, such that distances have been revised dramatically downwards to 100 metres or less. In practical terms, where cattle and sheep are concerned, the disease can only spread by close contact between groups of animals; for example, livestock separated by only a wire fence may transfer the disease, whereas a thick hedge-bank and ditch with fencing on either side may prevent transmission from one farm to the next. An unstocked field separating livestock groups is very likely to form an effective barrier. Only large numbers of infected pigs are still thought to have the potential for long-distance airborne spread of the virus.
Other vectors of FMD spread
The majority of infection is spread by close contact between animals. This is why the ban on animal movements is so important in controlling outbreaks of FMD. Secondary to this, the most significant vector of spread is the movement of personnel, vehicles and equipment. Infected animals pass out virus in the dung, urine, breath and saliva, so that contamination by these excretions can transmit the disease onwards. Thorough cleaning and disinfection procedures are required to prevent this from happening. Lapses in “biosecurity” have been largely responsible for the continuing spread of FMD once the initial phase of the epidemic had passed.
The controversial 3km and “contiguous” culls were introduced to UK policy four weeks after the outbreak had been recognised. These measures were based upon the computer modelling predictions of epidemiologists who forecast the future course of the epidemic. The models were assembled by biomathematicians with no expertise in veterinary science, and were based on assumed statistical risks of spread between a hypothetical “standardised” livestock species. They predicted the accelerating spread of FMD resulting in slaughter of up to half of the UK’s livestock. The extended culling was their novel proposal to counter this, but it had never been tried on a large scale anywhere in the world, so no data existed to validate their claims.
Veterinary scientists argued that in fact, the epidemic was showing the pattern of previous outbreaks everywhere, with rapid spread over the first several weeks to a peak, followed by a much lower period of decline. The majority of disease spread had already taken place before the outbreak was first recognised and an animal movement ban imposed. Thereafter, the initial infections surfaced and were recognised over several weeks, before the decline set in.
Retrospective analysis of data shows that the UK epidemic had already peaked and was starting to decline before the extended policies were implemented. It is therefore unlikely that the mass slaughter of healthy animals around each case of infection made any significant impact on the course of the epidemic. A far more effective policy would be to carry out proper risk assessments of neighbouring farms with monitoring and testing of livestock, slaughtering only those shown to have the disease or at genuine risk of developing it. This was the approach recommended throughout by veterinary scientists with expertise in FMD, but it was ignored in favour of unproven computer modelling based on false assumptions and inaccurate data.
The early FMD vaccines were regarded as unreliable. Even so, Europe had eliminated FMD by 1990 through the widespread use of vaccination. Modern vaccines are safe and more effective, delivering full protection against the disease within 7 days. All livestock species can be vaccinated with a success rate of at least 98%. Simple tests can differentiate between the blood antibodies of infected and vaccinated animals for FMD status purposes. There are no implications for human health from the consumption of vaccinated meat or milk products, indeed these were consumed in Europe for 40 years prior to 1990 with no ill effects, while the UK still imports large amounts of vaccinated meat from other countries eg, 71,000 tonnes from Brazil last year.
Vaccination halts transmission of the virus and leads ultimately to elimination of FMD. In the Netherlands outbreak there were no further cases of infection just 5 days after completion of the ring vaccination programme. An independent study has shown that the duration of a large outbreak such as the current UK epidemic could be reduced by 86% through vaccination, with corresponding savings in slaughter and costs.
The supposed risk of spreading the disease by vaccinated “carrier” animals has never been demonstrated – it remains a hypothetical possibility only. In practice, vaccination works.
Testing for FMD
A suspect case of FMD can be rapidly confirmed by tests at Pirbright Laboratory. Samples of fluid from blisters or the throat of an infected animal contain huge quantities of virus that can show a positive result within a few hours. But a negative or inconclusive result may be shown if the animal has only low levels of virus, for example, if recently infected, in which case the sample is “cultured” to grow the quantity of virus. It may take three or four days to confirm that the sample is negative. To overcome this delay, new tests have been developed for use at the farm gate, so that a decision to slaughter can be quickly taken on scientific grounds. These tests have not yet been validated by the EU.
Blood tests can identify the presence of antibodies that are the immune response to the virus, and are used to prove disease-free status. A negative result is obtained within a few hours, but a small percentage of results will show “false positives” or uncertainty, and these are re-tested using live FMD virus to see if it is neutralised by the antibodies present. If it is, the result is confirmed as positive; if not, as negative. This “virus neutralisation test” takes three or four days to complete. Such large quantities of tests are now being carried across the UK that results can take two weeks or more to come through.
Alan Beat is a smallholder and writer in Devon who resisted the contiguous cull and, with his wife Rosie, has campaigned against the slaughter policy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit their website at www.smallholders.org
For further information, visit the following Internet websites:
www.warmwell.com (this is a truly marvellous site, updated daily by Mary)
www.farmtalking.com (Jane has helped many farmers with legal matters and support and you can read some people’s personal experiences on here)
www.cullmaff.com (Mike ran an important campaigning site during the FMD crisis)
www.sheepdrove.com (the first site I read last year, which pointed me in the right direction!)
www.faxyourmp.com (to fax your MP)
Some of the other people who have consistently produced articles, press releases and information about the FMD crisis include Jonathan Miller, Dr. Richard North, Christopher Booker, John Gouriet, Magnus Linklater, Simon Jenkins, Alistair McConchaie and Dr. Ruth Watkins. Look out for some of these and for other papers and letters on the above websites.
Also, do try and read Richard North’s book, “The Death of British Agriculture - the wanton destruction of a key industry”. There are other relevant and important publications to read as well, including “Foot and Mouth, Heart and Soul” (a collection of personal accounts of the foot and mouth outbreak in Cumbria) and “Crisis and Opportunity” (the final report of the Devon Foot and Mouth Inquiry 2001.
“THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO NOTHING”
- Edmund Burke