From KNOWSTONE - the EU Temporary Committee Meeting.

Andrew Gumpter

There is an irony that we cannot get our own MP to come to this meeting when you have travelled many times further to be here, and I thank you for coming.

I have anecdotes in my mind to confirm what everyone has said, but I will run through my own situation.

On a Wednesday evening, Jeff Thorne phoned me and said 'I am sorry Andrew but my sister's farm has FMD'. Jeff is my neighbour by two farms his sister is next door to me.

12 oclock in the evening I was talking to my solicitor and he said 'Don't worry, you are fine' . The next day, they started the cull on the farm next door. They finished John's dairy cattle, they had some sheep and they killed them too, when up the drive went these slaughtermen plastered in blood from these infected dairy cattle.

When they got to the farm gate near a major thoroughfare, John the farmer and his son got held back, they had to stay on their own farm. They were pretty clean.

The vet and the bloody slaughtermen walked across the road plastered in blood and guts, and if that wasn't bad enough, when they got to the field to kill sheep on the other side, they had no pens. They went straight over the fence and into my farmyard. My defence against the cull ended that afternoon.

My only stock that I had that were cloven hoofed were a wedding present from my wife to myself, and myself to my wife. They were pets.

Because of the ministry's incompetence I am not allowing stockmen to handle the stock because of everything we have heard this afternoon. We have lunatics with rifles. We have people who have never dealt with an animal, who never stopped to ask a farmer what to do. They did no such things, they carried on. My solicitor told me I was finished.

They sent the valuer around in the morning, 9 cattle and 1 shetland sheep, not a lot to value, until I get another vet up the drive who was to do with the slaughter.

I am an organic poultry farmer - he decides that they have to die as well.

My wife, very pleasant, very quiet lady, suggested that they go forth and copulate and leave the farm.

I have never heard her swear before in my life, she was absolutely savage. This chap left the farm; we got another phone call, yet another vet, the poultry can stay, relax.

We get a third call, the chickens have got to go.

At this stage we barricade the lane, we have had enough, we're keeping them off.

I then get phone calls on what criminal acts I am committing and I have another concern about my neighbours. Every farmer in here knows what it is like to think he is going to infect his neighbour. Every farmer knows what it is like to sit and watch his neighbours stock sit in the field and rot because he can't feed them as he has no fodder.

It would be ok if there was a point to it, I don't mind my farmgate shut up and my stock slaughtered if I save 4 other farms, but I'm not being philanthropic, I'm being part of a community.

Those of us that had to go, needed to go, and we didn't mind going.

Knowstone was far worse than us, in our parish there was just one case of stock escaping. The slaughter team were going to arrive on the Monday. At 10 oclock they couldn't come, as there was a portacabin blocking the entrance to their car park, because every slaughter team had to report to Exeter for their duties for the day. It was an hour's drive, no one would see them before eleven. So they cancelled to the next day, but that time they couldn't make it either. By this time I was getting quite angry.

Day 3 the slaughter team were due to arrive at 9 oclock. I was also informed that they were going to use live rounds as my Highland Bull's forehead was very thick.

At the end of the day it took 3 shots to penetrate that bull's head, and I cried from one end of my barn to the other end of my barn, because he wouldn't go down, he wouldn't fall to the floor.

Why did my stock have to die? Because the Ministry couldn't follow their own rules, by which they were to have pens, they were to get the stock secure. I accuse the Ministry of negligence, I don't blame my neighbour.

When you sign the valuation form, it is their stock, it is their responsibility, we are just there to help. I don't think I am unique but on my Form A it says at the bottom ' No Clinical Evidence of Foot and Mouth here' , and you can have a copy, I have it here.

Just to round up this travesty and the farce that was Foot and Mouth.... rats carry foot and mouth, I am a poultry farmer, I carry rats, I have no choice. It took Maff 23 days to allow a vermin control man onto my farm. My neighbour had all my rats, because I got rid of their food, and he had all of my rats.

On day six after my slaughter , the Ministry in Exeter called me to ask how many cattle I had to die. Now we fill in forms, put in ear tags and nose rings, and they go off to the Ministry, and then they still ask me how many cattle I have got.

Day 9, they called me again, how many cattle have I got to slaughter and this is the second phone call.

Day 14, they called me again, how many cattle.

Please please help us to find the truth, I don't want a witchhunt I just want the truth.