Ignorance and arrogance.
Perhaps these two words more than any sum up what the farming industry have had to contend with during the last 12 months. (Applause)
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Extracts from the Carlisle Lessons Learned Meeting
if any of the government had been at our place where the cattle was lying about 50 yards from my doorstep and lay for 10 days rotting and stinking and you couldn't eat a meal for the smell of it, they would have darned soon done something about it. Thank you. (Applause)
I would like to ask why there was no cost benefit analysis ever done about vaccination and the ongoing costs of this, we don't know when they are going to end except they are huge. For instance there is £4.5 million ongoing costs, or at least that amount, just been spent on Great Orton alone, let alone the fact that they have got to pump it out for the next 10 years.
misleading information was given to farmers and the general public, possibly it seemed in order to generate an adverse opinion of the topic.
One of the many misleading points stated was that there were no diagnostic tests which could differentiate between antibodies caused by vaccination and antibodies caused by infection. I have been told by Dr Jose Latore, the Director of Cevan, which is the animal virology department of Argentina, that Argentina developed the Elisa 3 ABC test over 2 years ago, which does just this, and are successfully used there.
Dr U Chin Chen, the Director of the Animal Health Department of Taiwan, tells me that this test is also used in their country. It was then stated at a much later date that such tests had not been verified by the OIE, which was a round about way of admitting that the tests actually existed . As Argentina has now been given clearance to resume export of meat to the EU, surely this tells us that these tests are in effect recognised by the OIE.
It was also stated that lack of testing in a field situation was the reason for not using the penside test developed by Professor Fred Brown. Use of this test could potentially have speeded up diagnosis and also saved the thousands of animals which were slaughtered and then found to be clear of the disease.
Such a golden opportunity was surely lost to verify these tests in a massive field situation here in 2001. Cost was another reason put forward for not using the penside test, but only one small farm would have needed to be tested negative to more than cover the stated cost of £200,000 (warmwell note: this is wrong. The equipment really costs only about £22,000) for each piece of equipment.
By using this diagnostic equipment the suspect farms when then tested negative would have freed up the slaughter and disposal resources which were seriously over-stretched and they would then have been able to swiftly deal with the positive cases, thus helping to shorten the duration of the epidemic.
the problem has been that we haven't recognised just how far those advances that have taken place which could have been applied to this particular epidemic. And the lesson to be learned is that we need to actually understand what science is doing, not prejudice but science is doing,
If the contingency planning was to sort of try and get rid of most of the livestock in Cumbria I think the contingency planning was very good actually and it was absolutely superb . If the contingency planning was to do with controlling disease, well that was non-existent.
We had 600,000 sheep buried at Great Orton, the people there were actually promised they were going to get some compensation, and then they said they must have heard it wrong, there was no compensation on offer, they were lied to, like a lot of people in this room were lied to.
I have been involved with this total and utter shambles now for a year. I would like to ask you two questions. It has been stated that you do not wish to apportion blame within this inquiry. Considering that over 11 million animals have been killed, of which 86% were healthy, many businesses wrecked both in agriculture and tourism, people's lives destroyed, a rural community torn apart by a policy dictated purely on political grounds, the loss of thousands of years of breeding to some of the finest stock resources in the country, resulting in the worst tragedy to hit Cumbria for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and you do not want to apportion blame. Why not ? And secondly Sir, I understand that the comments made by government Ministers and civil servants, and I can tell you are nodding you know what I am going to say, will not be published in a minute or verbatim format. Given that these people lie consistently, and I have proof of that here tonight if you wish to see it, what chance does your inquiry have of ever finding out the truth? Without a fully open inquiry it will simply mean your inquiry has no credibility whatsoever, it will not allow you to get to the heart of the matter and is a waste of taxpayers money. Blair and MAFF/DEFRA are simply cowards, they do not have the guts to allow themselves to come under any scrutiny.
I came along to the science one that was led by Follett and I have never come across such a team of arrogant individuals as I had that night, an absolute disgrace. And until we get a fully independent open inquiry whereby Ministers and civil servants, indeed anybody can be questioned under oath in front of a camera, you will never ever find the truth. (Applause) Now you have come up and spoken to the Ministry vets here today. There are 20 local practitioners who were at that meeting in February 2000 and you haven't arranged to meet with them....... if the local vets had been on the farms, if they could have made decisions and if it was not being run from Page Street, the urgency would have been there. These were our farms, these were our future.......
Jim Scudamore when he came up here to a meeting in March, he did not know what was going on in Cumbria, you could see the colour drain from his face when we were telling him. Jim Scudamore did not know, Nick Brown did not know , the communications blockage between what was going on on the ground and Carlisle, and then from Carlisle to Page Street, Page Street to the Minister, the Minister to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, there were blockages all the way along. And I think you need to look in any recommendations at a flexible clinical veterinary response. (Applause)
Without a doubt I think the over-riding feeling I have is of breathtaking incompetence on behalf of MAFF and DEFRA and anybody else who had the misfortune to be associated with them. They would not listen to expert advice. I would like to remind people today is 12 March, on 15 March Julius Caesar had rather a nasty event at which the comment was passed that the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred in their bone. Well most of our good is interred at Great Orton, an awful lot of it, an awful lot of healthy sheep. We had lightweight lambs after the disease had started to die away being sent for slaughter, they couldn't see where the market was, they were burnt, they were destroyed, and yet we told Ministers time, and time, and time again that they could be safely moved in this county without difficulty. We pointed out that one of the problems was movement, the problem was people. In this room tonight we have at least 4 experts who could advise on how pits should have been constructed, they told MAFF how these pits should be constructed, they were ignored, they were asked to repeat the information, they were ignored. We have scientists in this room whose information goes back to the 1967 outbreak, they were ignored.
what everybody in this room suffered was the incompetence of MAFF, everything being referred to Page Street. It was like fighting a forest fire by correspondence course, utterly impossible. And to see the amount of damage that has been done here is just unbelievable. We still have many farmers in this room who are frightened to say, and stand up and speak their mind, because they have been threatened and serious threats. There are people who have had MAFF/DEFRA people coming back to them saying ah, we know who you are . Now that is unforgivable. There may be some added stories embellishing these. I doubt it. We have got people here who my wife and I have spoken to in our private capacities over the last 12 months, hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of them, the same stories coming back, heartbroken people.
Nick made the point about why will there be no fingers pointed at individuals. I can understand that because the anger and frustration that I still feel in here, I feel as if I need that sort of action, resignation, dismissal, call it what you like, it happens in politics, it happens in the Civil Service, if someone is responsible they go, but nobody has offered to go, nobody has had the finger pointed at them to go . (Applause) And I am sorry Sir, unless somebody goes, and I can give you a string of names in Cumbria, let alone the rest of the country, who ought to go. Those people are still there. I have met Civil Servants, I have met politicians and as Nick quite rightly says, I wouldn't use the word lies, but they are concerned about what is being said behind them, what they might do and mouth hits this county, this country again in x months or x years time exactly the same thing will happen. that man is still as arrogant when we met him yesterday as he was 12 months ago. We are going back into the same situation as we were 12 months ago, we are doing everything we can Mr Attingley said to me, and now he is still saying we are doing everything we can to sort this problem, and that problem, and that problem. But I am afraid that is not good enough and unless that man goes and anybody else who has the same attitude, if foot and mouth hits this county, this country again in x months or x years time exactly the same thing will happen.
it is not the heart of Britain that matters, it is the rotten heart of Europe . What do you think about that? The other thing that will also concern many of us, that the conflation of animal and human disease could still mean that the slaughter of livestock can go on in this country, and we are not deceived and we are not daft. I will tell you that today for example, coming out of Great Orton, there were two containers of effluent leaving Great Orton this morning at 11.30 and at 5.30 this afternoon possibly going down to Trent. I wish to illustrate the point that we are interested, we are educated, we are curious people, we are incapacitated, we deserve accountability but my main point is let's get back to Europe, what lies behind this, what was the source of this epidemic?
On the Monday morning I looked at his sheep I was caring for, young lambs, mothering ewes, all cold and hungry. The next three days I fed them morning and night as if everything was normal. For some reason I missed the contiguous cull and the dreaded virus, I missed having A Notices put on my land that had been grazed with his sheep. Towards the end of April came the big decision, the winter feed was almost gone, I had a herd of cattle to feed, dare I graze these fields where his sheep had been, would I go round and burn the sheep's wool off wire and rubbing points, would I disinfect every post as some people were being asked to do during farm clean-ups? Instead I talked to a retired vet who had worked during the 1968 outbreak. He said the longest survival recorded of the virus in sheep droppings was 23 days, so after 40 days I opened the shed doors and grazed the fields, and I wonder why there wasn't more consultation with these retired vets and how many animals were needlessly killed because they were 2 or 3 kilometres from an outbreak when I survived at such close quarters.
You should also be aware, Sir, that during the autumn of the year 2000 there was an outbreak of swine vesicular disease in East Anglia. Control of this disease is the same as foot and mouth, cull the whole stock on the farm and thoroughly cleanse the buildings. Ministry vets are known to have said there were signs of foot and mouth in these pigs being killed then, but as there was a total slaughter policy everything was being dealt with . There have been arguments as to whether the movement ban should have been fetched in a week earlier. I would suggest there should be some serious investigations carried out to see if the movement ban should have been pushed in not a few days but some months earlier.
early on MAFF said they needed help with visits to farms and so on and I offered them the help of the communicable disease consultants public health who have expertise in visiting food premises and restaurants and places like that and applying closure orders, so it is a similar parallel kind of situation. That offer was never taken up.
They slaughtered all our stock on the Saturday. The young lady in charge, the Ministry vet in charge, she was excellent, I felt really sorry for her, she was a vet from some Carlisle practice who had been seconded. She blood-tested virtually all those animals of ours, she inspected every one as they were killed. There was a chap on the telephone 3 times while she was conducting the slaughter asking her if she had found foot and mouth. Our blood samples went away, we heard nothing for a month, I rang up twice and eventually we got a sheet back with our blood samples on. Our blood samples were negative but written across the bottom of those blood samples it says your results may be negative but we strongly believe your farm was infected with foot and mouth, therefore that was the justification.
The greatest feeling that we had during the foot and mouth outbreak was total frustration, the gross misinformation that was coming forward about the progress and control of the disease which wasn't even being controlled. And then in the local press and on the media claims that financial aid was there available for small businesses and tourism and yet every time you rang the telephone number, it didn't actually apply to your type of business. But I think probably one of the hardest things to bear was that every time somebody in authority came to the county, they didn't want to speak to people like us whose businesses were bleeding to death, they were quite willing to speak to representatives of various organisations whose salary cheque was arriving in their bank every month. I wrote to Margaret Beckett twice, I haven't even had an acknowledgment, never mind an acknowledgment of my letter never mind a reply.
The first question, who authorised the cleansing of farm buildings as if they were cleansing a hospital operating theatre? Who was the impractical idiot in London who authorised that because that is the only word for it. Because in 1967, my wife and I remember it and we remember a farm next door to where she was living where the neighbours talked over a fence, one got it, one didn't. So that is one point. Who also was the stupid man who started the hare about sheep being dangerous time bombs, dangerous contacts, walking time bombs and all this other nonsense which none of it has been substantiated either before or since. So that is another point. The other thing is a political one, two political ones. By the way, in answering letters, I have got a very good contact in Holland and I get a reply from him regularly, it is the Dutch Minister of Agriculture and he writes to me regularly and I send him all the clippings from the paper, so he has the grace to reply to me, just an ordinary English peasant. Ours don't bother, they are too busy.
There is tremendous inconsistency in what is going on here and I think that is all I have to say really, other than the fact that there are too few people here and I would like to see you consulting far more people, including the poor beggars who normally work for DEFRA and who got thrown into this at the deep end through no fault of their own. I think there were people at DEFRA who were appalling and did their job very badly, there were others who I think went through a hell of a time and they need our sympathy as well.
I have got a letter in front of me now about the voluntary cull. It is written by Nicky Ellis, Assistant Director of Operations, MAFF, Carlisle. It basically says, and I can give it to you later, that if you don't give up your sheep we will make you a dangerous contact, kill them on your farm and you will pay for it, that is basically what it bloody well says. Nick Ellis isn't here? Good. Nick Utting graciously said, or didn't say earlier on that government Ministers lie and I understand why he said that in his position. Fortunately I am not in that position, I am not a farmer, I come from a farming background and MAFF cannot bully me, they have tried, they will never bully me. I have irrefutable proof that Elliott Morley, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DEFRA lied on the voluntary cull. Just give me a second please to let me cover the points. In the House he stated on 6 November, "At the present time we do not have powers for a firebreak cull". There was a 3 kilometre cull in Cumbria but that was a voluntary cull and people were invited to participate in that. That was stated on 6 November 2001. The same day as my organisation received a leaked memo from Mr Roy Hathaway, Page Street, I have a copy here, anyone can see it and have it. That memo actually stated the same day as Morley said this that there wasn't a voluntary cull. I want to just run over what Mr Morley said. "At the present time we do not have powers for a firebreak cull." Not only that, they did not have the legal powers to conduct that cull, not only that there was no scientific evidence whatsoever for them to conduct that policy. It seems strange to me that Mr Hathaway would say the cull was not voluntary because in front of me here, and many of the lads in here would have received this, and this came from a friend of mine's farm, thousands of years of heath flocks wiped out in a day by a completely unscientific policy. And do you know what it says on there? The first thing it says is Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and then when you go down to the invoice here, and it has all been deleted by the way for obvious reasons, and I can tell you where it came from in private, it says voluntary depopulation scheme. All rather interesting.
I find it a bit annoying that you say that you are not going to try to blame anybody. I mean foot and mouth was a crisis turned into a disaster by bad work from the people at the top. Scudamore and Nick Brown are the two I am thinking on. It was mentioned before about Scudamore coming next door into the auctioneer. There was a programme on Channel 4, I videoed it and I watched it again last night just to make sure I had got things clear. There was a local vet said to Scudamore, we have got to get them culled that day within 24 hours, and Scudamore said we are getting them culled within 24 hours, and the vet banged his hand on the desk and said you are not, it is taking 3 days, and Scudamore was shocked. I know I am repeating what the gentleman said, but this is true, Scudamore was the vet in charge and he should have been ringing Cumbria morning and night every bloody day to see how it was getting on. It was disgraceful that he didn't know that it was taking 3 days and you say you don't want to blame anybody. And then Nick Brown apparently when he found out it was taking 3 days, he was every bit as shocked. That was disgraceful as well because he should have been ringing Cumbria every day to find out how it was getting on, he was the man in charge, and I think it is disgraceful, them two in particular. And I know Nick Brown was put out of the Agricultural office but I would like to see him kicked out of politics forever. I would like to see the farmers going to Newcastle and protest that he gets kicked out of politics and make him feel how I felt on 19 April when 4 came in the yard with guns to shoot all our animals. And you are sitting there saying you don't want to blame anybody.
I resisted the cull, I am one of the people that the government are blaming for spreading the disease, but I knew that my animals were healthy so I wouldn't even let a DEFRA vet near my property because they had the wonderful knack of sending a vet out to blood test your animals and then you get a letter within a couple of days saying sorry, it wasn't a clean vet so we are going to have to come and cull. So I wouldn't have them near , I hung in there. But is it right that I have got to live on handouts from friends because due to hanging on to my sheep I haven't got, well it is not a nice word, compensation, I don't think it is, it's compulsory isn't it? But is it right? It is not nice to go yes we can apply to RABI, but is it nice to go cap in hand with a begging bowl asking for help? I think that government should do something, I really do, it is disgusting.
I would like to back what most of them have said about MAFF bullying people and I think the way they bullied people was absolutely disgraceful because when the first chap went down in our village they came to us, this was before the 3 kilometre cull came into force and they wanted to take our cattle and having a pedigree herd we resisted, we wanted to keep them as long as we could, and they blatantly told us that if we didn't let them go we would only get half the valuation when we went down . Now we had never heard of this and we even had to phone our MP, we finished up phoning London to find out and they said that was not so, but plenty of weaker hearted people would just have let their cattle go and accepted that and I think that was a very bad tactic. The other tactics that I couldn't understand with DEFRA was the night we went down we had all the cattle valued, we fed them all, we milked them, we made them as comfortable as we could for the night, it was 11.30 at night when we finished and we went in the house and I said to the Ministry vet, I understand if I have a bath and burn all my clothes I can go half a mile up the road to where I live. He said well you should be able to but I have no licences so you will have to stay here all night . It didn't really matter too much because it was my son's farm, but the valuer and the Ministry vet, without disinfecting anything, got in their cars and came to Hilltop Hotel and stayed the night . So there is something definitely the matter with DEFRA and their rules and the bullying tactics are terrible. And I have heard from DEFRA, it says they are looking into the whole thing and see what can be learned. I think the first thing that DEFRA wants to do is employ somebody with some common sense because that has been lacking through the whole process. (Applause)
just when farmers thought they were getting back up on their sheep, when they might be able to get rid of their light lambs or something, well it comes that sheep might also have BSE. Right? Where have our scientists gone, it was wonderful to hear a scientist. We hear all these things, we read all these things in the paper written by so-called scientists, where is the logic? Most of the things these so-called scientists quote, they don't even hold any common sense. I think we have been told an awful lot of lies and when you hear things like the depopulation scheme, I am also aware of at least one person who has received a compensation cheque for livestock in the so-called voluntary cull which was actually from the EU livestock reduction fund
I wondered if you were aware of the EU livestock reduction fund, any of their policies and what it actually is. Because about 4 months into this disease I thought the way this government are handling it, they don't actually want to control this disease, everything that is happening is meant to happen .
Now I have great experience constructing toxic landfill sites where you use a butyl line of welded joints, so nothing can get out, and it has got to be like that because there are worse things than the blood from cattle. And I sent these off. I didn't get any replies whatsoever.
I watched a JCB on the film, this is what started it off, a JCB3C, I understand there are possibly 2 or 3 others in this business in the audience, is that right? No there isn't. The JCB3C is a wheeled excavator and they put a ditching bucket on it and they started to build a trench.
That is absolutely completely idiotic, right, and if anybody doesn't believe me well I suggest we have a representative from Budge Mining, Kier Mining, all the big outfits in the world that know what they are doing. And I did even suggest in the same letter that they contacted Budge Mining and Kier Mining if they were going to do any mass graves. And I did this and I put in a little cutting at the end to say of course if my method was to be adopted where animals could be disposed of quickly, and if it was adopted to be a mass grave then it could be enhanced dramatically, ie with points to take off the effluent and also to exhaust the methane in the future.
I also put in that thing that on the farms where it is done, the farmer would only receive a peppercorn rent for that. I agree if it is rough they would have to go somewhere else. And they would be fenced off, the topsoil left and come back later to fiddle about, messing about, get on to the next farm, but I saw completely utter chaos. Now it was crisis management.
Now nobody wanted to know but when Mr Blair came up here Nick Utting may recall me ringing him and he said send a copy to Tony Blair, which I did, and it took two and a half months to get a reply, and do you know what it was? It was from his secretary and it has been passed to the correct department.
....a new Animal Health Act, with hardly any time for debate on that act. That act contained some of the most draconian provisions of any civil act on our statute books. It grants an absolute power to the Ministry in their discretion to order the immediate slaughter of any animal with no right whatsoever of appeal. Now that is rare in a civil act. It seems to me that two things flow from this, one that the government now realise that during the recent outbreak many of the culls were carried out illegally, and secondly that they are still determined if we have another outbreak that mass cull is the only policy they intend to apply.
after one year gone 10 March I still cannot buy back what I really want, and that is my animals. Thank you.
This country is supposed to be disease-free. Why do we still have all this biosecurity at the auction marts, it is absolutely doing no good at all, and why do we have a 20 day standstilll for stock. If we are disease-free we are disease-free as we were, what is the point of all this Ministry intervention in our present everyday life?