Alan sent a message to Michaela that included this observation:
More interesting was the letter describing clear clinical signs of FMD in
sheep in Ireland, supposedly in contrast to the UK situation! Funny how the
same strain of the virus produces symptoms in Ireland but none at all on the
UK mainland. We refuse to believe that infected sheep would show no symptoms
whatever - in a small flock where the animals are known individually, the
observant flock owner would see some deviation from normal behaviour at the
Michael subsequently replied:
Re signs in sheep. Bertie Ellis told me that he had seen definitive signs
in sheep on the Beacons in response to my questioning about the so called
quiet cycling/waves or asymptomness. It really is a load of tosh. This
strain is not significantly different from the 67 strain other than that in
this outbreak, thus far the pig population have not contracted it.
Betty forwarded this to us from Holland:
Forum on Foot and Mouth Disease Control -
With no end to the UK epidemic in sight this will be a unique opportunity to
and discuss the scientific aspects of...
? Rapid diagnosis
? Use of vaccination
? Future disease control
Speakers include leading global specialists in Foot and Mouth Disease:
? Professor Fred Brown OBE, FRS
? Dr. Simon Barteling MSc, BVetMed
? Dr. Paul Sutmoller PhD, DVM
Venue: The University of Bristol School of Chemistry
Date: Saturday 15th September 2001 2.00-6.00pm
Attendance free: - but numbers are limited so please register early
Contacts: Wendy Vere MRCVS Tel:+44-(0)1363-877471 or Alicia Eykyn +44-
She also forwarded this message from a friend in the Hexham area of
Many thanks to all those who have written and telephoned to enquire as to
our welfare - we are in a "Blue Box" subject to a variety of restrictions
that look very much like bolting, nailing up and triple locking the
stable door after you know what has gone.
Valuers are beginning preparatory work - not got to us yet. The virus is
clearly sweeping around the Allen Valley - approx 5 miles from us and to
be entirely honest there is not reasonable prospect that this parish will
Whether individuals do or do not is a matter of chance.
The first farmer who got it in Allendale is well respected even
in all his undertakings - on the way to organic conversion and had a byre
so clean you could eat your dinner off the floor.
The ministry (farmer friendly as ever) has mentioned the possibility of
spread via movement of livestock or farm vehicles and even mentioned that
all the farms affected have taken stock for collection at Hexham Mart
(where the biosecurity is first rate) - what they have not given quite
the same prominence to is the fact that Lord Allendale's shoot crossed the
original farm 14 days prior to the diagnosis - they have merely asserted
that the biosecurity of the shoot was impeccable.
I am sure that this ordering of mentioning things has nothing to do
either with the financial muscle of the Allendale Estate nor the fact that
farmers round here to a man opposed lifting footpath closures and the
granting of shooting licences.
We do very much appreciate the concern of all those who have rung or
emailed - a days that has seen so many messages of support cannot be all
Lawrence sends this contribution:
I too have been noticing how many smallholders as opposed to mainstream
farmers are being tested in our 10 km zone. The [four, I believe] goats
belonging to Roger, a neighbour on one side of me were tested
[negative] and there was an attempt to test the four goats belonging to Lyn,
who lives close by on the other side - and in fact keeps her goats
on my farm now. I don't believe that Lyn even has a holding number. The
who called at her flat, on spec, to test her goats seemed to think she has
seven goats. Lyn can't imagine where that idea came from [or where she was
expected to be keeping goats at her flat with no land or holding number].
We couldn't help speculating that testing four or seven tame goats would mean a
great deal less trouble, time, and cost than testing a minimum of sixty
wild, independent minded sheep on a larger farm... Even on my little farm they
would probably need to test two batches of sheep - consequently about ninety
The fine Bank Holiday weekend brought us our first serious brushes with
walkers. We suddenly became aware that a group of four walkers had ignored
my wrongfully retained Devon County Council 'footpath closed' sign and had
set off through the field where our milking sheep were grazing. I stopped
them and asked them "where the devil they were going" while all three of my
border collies also made similar comments. They were very apologetic and
since they so pleasant and were in any case about halfway across the field,
I told them that they might as well continue. Karen had joined joined the
party and we talked for some time about farming, foot and mouth disease and
so on. Just before saying farewell, one of them asked about the dogs and
volunteered that when they had been walking in the Lake District the other
day, they had admired how the sheep dogs were bringing the sheep down off
the mountains there.... Karen and I walked back to the farmyard slightly dazed,
barely noticing two other walkers with dogs who had also ignored the signs.
I have now added some obstructions to the signs and will add a "Beware of
the Bull" for good measure.
I asked Roger when he thought we would have another outbreak in Devon: "In
September, when they 'oldaymakers is gone whome" was his prompt reply.
# # #
From the Farmers Weekly website:
NFU denies virus inquiry U-turn
By FWi staff
THE National Farmers' Union has denied a U-turn after supporting a new
campaign which aims to force a full public inquiry into foot-and-mouth.
NFU leaders are backing a campaign by Conservative MP Bill Cash who hopes to
present a multi-million signature petition to Parliament later this year.
Mr Cash wants members of the public to sign their name to an official form
of words which he will then formally put forward as a parliamentary
The Tory MP for Stroud hopes other MPs from all parties will join him and
force the government to bow to popular pressure on the issue.
The petition calls for an inquiry to be held under the Tribunals of Inquiry
Act 1921 which could compel witnesses to give evidence on oath.
Mr Cash said the three inquiries already announced by the government were
completely inadequate to deal with the situation.
His campaign, which was launched on Monday (28 August), already has the
support of four rural organisations, including the National Farmers Union.
NFU head of parliamentary affairs Barney Holbeche denied that the union had
conducted a U-turn by deciding to back the campaign.
"Our position has developed over the last few weeks. We have been looking at
this very carefully," he said.
Mr Holbeche said the union was particularly concerned about Dr Iain Anderson
's inquiry into the handling of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.
This was because he would be sitting without a committee and his secretariat
was from the Cabinet Office which was "too close to home".
"For all these reasons, there is some doubt that the inquiry which has been
announced can do the job," said Mr Holbeche.
Organisations supporting the campaign will be mailing out 350,000 copies of
the petition to their members over the coming weeks.
Organisers stress that only an official petition form can be used - the
rules of Public Petitions state that additional petition sheets must be
Errors, alterations and erasures are also not permitted.
Other backers are the Countryside Alliance, the Country Land and Business
Association, and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation..
28 August 2001
Foot-and-mouth restrictions relaxed
By FWi staff
MINISTERS have relaxed foot-and-mouth restrictions so animals can be moved
under strict conditions within counties according to disease risk status.
The changes are aimed to avert a welfare crisis in the autumn, if animals
were forced to remain where they are, said food and farming minister Lord
But there are no plans to restart live auctions in England and Wales.
The decision to change the movement rules comes despite the number of cases
in Northumberland climbing to 13 on Tuesday (28 August).
Ministers have produced a chart that summarises the movements which farmers
will be able to make this autumn.
It lists counties to and from which animals will be able to be moved.
Movements between different high-risk areas or into infected areas are
Farmers wanting to take advantage of the new arrangements will have to meet
tighter rules than previously in place including some blood testing of
But the National Farmers' union has already criticised the new arrangements
claiming they will be a further blow to the confidence of producers.
NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said the union was particularly concerned
about farmers in infected counties who would be put in an untenable
"Farmers accept that the priority must be to prevent any further spread of
the disease, particularly in light of developments in Northumberland."
"But some of these producers have had their animals on their farms for six
months and are at their wits' end," he said.
Mr Bennett said he was also disappointed that the government had indicated
that markets for live cattle and sheep would not be started for some time.
He added: "I am also particularly concerned about the sudden inclusion in
the package of a requirement to identify individual sheep.
"We will be holding further urgent discussions with [government] officials
on the issue during the next few days."
28 August 2001
Scots virus scare after English visit
By FWi staff
SIX farms in Scotland are now under restriction after being visited by a
Northumberland farmer whose holding is infected with foot-and-mouth.
Cattle and sheep on the Scottish farms will be kept under close observation
for at least 21 days and may then be tested, said the Scottish Executive.
A farmer from an infected holding in the Allendale of Northumberland had
visited the farms north of the border to buy sheep, it is believed.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the individual concerned wore protective
clothing and disinfected his vehicle before and after visiting the farms.
It is understood that he did not handle livestock while in Scotland.
But all Scottish farmers have been urged to restrict the number of people
and vehicles coming onto their farms to prevent the disease re-infecting the
NFU Scotland President Jim Walker said: "This latest development just goes
to show how vulnerable Scotland still is to foot-and-mouth.
"It is hoped that the restrictions placed on these farms in the Borders are
just precautionary, but these types of movements can so easily spread
From the warmwell website:
Plague farmers in new crisis
.....New restrictions include the withdrawal of all licences for animal
movement, and stringent bio-security being enforced at farms, including
disinfectant footbaths and sprays. Police and Defra officials will also
patrol to ensure that no animals are being moved illegally, and that
cleansing and bio-security measures are being used.....
Agronomist Dr Richard North, who works for an EU think-tank on farming
matters, says billions of pounds in taxpayers' cash could have been saved,
along with thousands of animals, if the Government had immediately agreed to
a mass vaccination programme against foot-and-mouth disease when it first
reared its head in February. Dr North says the country is still facing a cri
sis of epic proportions unless vaccination is used to stem the disease.
He said: "This epidemic does not seem to be geographically contained, and
certainly this is backed up by the emergence of sporadic outbreaks with days
or sometimes weeks between them. "That leads me to believe that the disease
is endemic in the countryside, and the worrying facet is that it is likely
deer are helping spread the virus. The problem is Defra doesn't want to
acknowledge that as a possibility. "Every time the deer hypothesis is
raised, they rush to the barricades and say there is no evidence."
The stark reality, says Dr North, is that the epidemic will continue until
vaccination is used.
He said: "We will see more outbreaks and it will keep cropping up every now
and then, after we think we have the all-clear. That is exactly the pattern
you would expect to see when the disease has gone endemic. "Assuming the
best-case scenario, it will take another three months before we clear the
tail of these latest cases. "For export clearance you can add another three
months, which takes us until March 2002 - and that's assuming there are no
more outbreaks. "If we had vaccinated, we would probably now have that
clearance and saved billions. The Government should have done it in March,
but Maff had no idea of what was happening in agriculture. They told us it
would be over by the summer, and here we are looking at almost a year beyond
that forecast." Dr North added: "The vaccination programme could have cost
us #200m and we would be looking at the restoration of disease-free status
in March 2002.
"What this Northumberland outbreak says is that we're a long way away from
recovering that status, at a cost so far of about #20bn to the economy. I'm
just waiting for the first outbreak on a farm which has been restocked, and
perhaps that will be the Government's wake-up call. "Instead, they have
wasted a full year and we are now looking at an animal welfare, economic and
Clarke's dogged display is best in show
(Ken Clarke has been campaigning in Nottingham)......."That Iain Duncan
Smith, the last thing you want is another Right-wing leader," said Robert
Steeples, 45, a former dairy farmer from Pentrich, Derbyshire, who sold his
herd and diversified into horticulture last year, because the price of milk
did not cover production costs.
"I'd never go back into farming," he said. "I'd never work 365 days again in
a year, 14 hours a day for some jumped-up little fart in London to make a
"The only person who is any good is Ken Clarke. He's the only guy with any
experience of the real world." Against this rural background Mr Clarke's
attacks of the Government's handling of the foot and mouth epidemic seemed
apposite. "I don't get the sense of much decisive action," he told a radio
reporter. "It was a good test for this Government, foot and mouth. Sadly for
farmers, it's a test they failed." Unfortunately for Mr Clarke's own
credibility, he kept mixing up his northern counties. "It's a tragedy it's
breaking out in Cumbria again," he said. No one seemed to notice the
blunder. Sadly, Mrs Clarke, who would undoubtedly have put him right, was
hanging back from the fray. True, the two counties share a border, but Mr
Clarke should note that Northumberland, where the new worrying outbreaks
have developed, is on the right hand of the map, looking from Nottingham,
while Cumbria is on the left......... Aug 28
Our comment: This last item illustrates just how little ANY of our
political leaders know about either the countryside or the FMD epidemic.
And still vaccination is on the back burner . . . . .
from Alan & Rosie