From today's Western morning News
from Animal Health (!) Minister Elliot Morley - with comments.

Abuse no Substitute for Serious argument.


/This is a sound statement

It is time the Western Morning News editorial took a more grown-up approach to serious issues rather than abusing everyone who dares to disagree with the paper's prejudices (November 2nd Page 12).
/ Attacking the paper with such emotional exaggeration of language, without explaining what exactly is being objected to, can hardly be called a "grown-up approach to serious issues"

John Prescott is obviously right when he states that it was a Labour government that obtained Objective One status for Cornwall.
/ the use of the word "obviously" is an elementary form of persuasion - but what does it lead to?

To do so required political commitment to make the issue a priority and win the case in Brussels. It was not a forgone conclusion and it is an example of a Labour government delivering for Cornwall the way the previous government did not.
/an oddly ungrammatical use of the word "delivering". What does the word mean when used intransitively like this?

As far as I am concerned all farmers know that there have been a minority who have broken the law, acted irresponsibly and helped spread foot and mouth with poor biosecurity.
/"all farmers know..." another sweeping and unproved statement which is followed by another of his smears against farmers which are never substantiated.

While the Government accepts there are questions for us to look in the handling of the biggest outbreak of FMD the world has seen and has acknowledged that lessons need to be learned from the outbreak there are questions for farmers too.
/The "questions for the government" are neither stated nor addressed - nor is the government prepared to face up to its responsibilities in an open public inquiry.

The issues of biosecurity, multiple movements of live animals, proper traceability, risk sharing and lack of quarantine movements need to be firmly addressed in the beef and sheep sectors.
/Attack and blaming of others used to ward off accusation is not an indication of a clear conscience.

I am not aware of any sensible farmer who doesn't at least think these are issues that should be considered and the practicalities examined.
/this may well be true but it does not alter the fact that Elliot Morley has lied about the spread of foot and mouth and constantly attempted to smear farmers' reputations, nor does it address the many questions raised by the thoughtful week long Devon Inquiry in which Defra did not take part in spite of agreeing to answer questions

Whether we like it or not the culling policy worked and this massive outbreak was brought under control faster than the much smaller and limited outbreak of 1967.
/the "culling policy" is not in itself what is so very much condemned. Few are going to argue against the swift and humane killing of infected animals to stop the spread of FMD. However, what Maff/Defra did as a response to this epidemic was indeed lamentable. The widespread bullying and intimidation of any farmer or animal owner who was not immediately ready to sign over the animals under his protection, misinformation or total lack of information, arrogance, refusal to admit ignorance, refusal to listen to experts relying instead on mathematical modellers with no veterinary experience, the use of slaughter teams who had no understanding of animal control or sensitivity, the placing of vets in an impossible position requiring them to compromise their ethical principles and their refusal throughout to answer questions with anything but bland and unhelpful statements from "spokesmen"...

Given the massive logistical challenge and undoubted problems that is not an outcome to be described as lamentable. Contiguous culling to get ahead of disease spread was an essential part of that policy. Two independent scientific studies have confirmed that without contiguous culling there would have been thousands more outbreaks and we would still be in the midst of the edademic. Delays to culling mean the disease spreads.
/the "independent scientific studies" referred to here are simply the mathematical modellers' views again. It is in their interests to assert over and over again that their course was the only sensible one. Theories are not proved facts however. No credence was ever given by the arrogant government ministers to the real independent experts, while the whole issue of vaccination was never allowed to be publicly debated by those with first hand knowledge of its efficacy.

Contiguous culling was not initially implemented in the Brecon Beacons outbreak. As a result the disease spread and there was a great risk of a major outbreak. It was not brought under control until local farmers agreed to contigous culling.
/Extract from BBC report August 28: Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones said the cull had gone ahead with farmers' co-operation, but grazier Stephen Brychan, who lost 40 sheep in the latest slaughter, said they had not given consent. They did not have our consent," he said. "We gathered the animals for testing but we made it clear we did not want healthy animals slaughtered. "We are considering taking legal action because of the way this has been handled." Valuation forms Brecon livestock valuer Peter Francis said the form signed by farmers was a valuation form and did not consent to the cull. "The whole thing has been extremely frustrating for the farmers involved," he said. Graziers have lost thousands of sheep Farmers had earlier refused to comply with the cull because their sheep had already been grazing beside other animals for weeks. They protested the measure was illogical. The strays were killed while sheep from the flocks they mixed with were prepared for blood tests in pens. Mr Jones said the cull had gone ahead after scientific advice from epidemiologists had been followed. He accused those who oppose the culling policy of putting pressure on affected farmers with a telephone persuasion campaign. Crisis so far Total confirmed cases UK-wide 1,960 - with 118 in Wales Powys - 78 Anglesey - 13 Monmouthshire - 20 Caerphilly - 2 Rhondda Cynon Taff - 1 Neath Port Talbot -1 Newport - 3 "This has nothing to do with disease control," said Mr Stephens, who earlier refused to let his animals go to slaughter. "It's more like a selective cull. It's not about foot-and-mouth; it's about clearing the Brecon Beacons of sheep - otherwise, those on Buckland would be killed as well. "They are picking which ones live and die. They slaughtered thousands of healthy animals using the European stock reduction fund to pay compensation."

There is evidence of groups trying to organise widespread legal objections to culling which would delay extinguishing the outbreak which we do not consider over yet.
/the objections are valid. The government has carried out the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals that subsequent tests showed not to have been infected at all. The bill being rushed through parliament is to prevent further legal objections being made during the killing of sheep on the dubious grounds of scrapie that is planned for the near future

....... The question for the WMN is whether it wants to use that process to inform its reader through informed reporting, or just carry on with politically-motivated rants.
/ this piece of petulance would be justified only if what preceded it had not been politically-motivated, misleading and full of elementary propaganda techniques

ELLIOT MORLEY MP Parliamentarty Under Secretary


About this letter, Jane at farmtalking.com writes:

We know that the policy was unscientific and against the law.
We know our slaughter laws were broken
We know cruelty to animals was committed in umpteen cases by those in the Government's employ.
We know that at every chance the Government had to prove they were right in a Court of Law, they withdrew their action, or in the case of Mossburn in Scotland, they changed the law.
Therefore we cannot fail to draw the conclusion that they feared they would lose in Court!
We know that they 'conned' farmers with the 3km cull.
We know that millions of healthy animals have been slaughtered unecessarily.
We know that the environment is damaged from pits and pyres.
We know that many rural and urban busnesses are ruined.
We know we should have a public inquiry.
We know the policy has cost the country billions of pounds in an effort to save a few million pounds worth of exports, (much of which involved the suffering of live animals enduring horrendous conditions on route and at final destination)
We know the State Veterinary Service has been run down.
We know we cannot adequately protect our ports to prevent illegal imports.
We know MAFF/DEFRA's poor biosecurity far outweighs any breaches by farmers.
We know welfare problems have added to the unecessary death toll, aided by MAFF/DEFRA's hopeless logistical & organisational abilities.
We know they always blame someone else - even IT services!
We know they have made deals with Europe they have not disclosed to us.
We know they are unnecessarily slaughtering antibody positive animals.
We know there is no good scientific basis for a contiguous cull.
We know the WMN has done a fantastic job telling the truth!
We know vaccination works!

I could go on but I'm afraid I will bore you - after all you know all this already and have done for months!
As for Mr.Moreley - he would be wise to say no more! At first we excused him, believing him ignorant, then we decided he must be rather foolish but now his continued justification of a policy which completely lacks credibility verges on idiocy!

The Devon inquiry was right - the Governments handling of this epidemic was lamentable to say the least!

Jane