Alan has now written again to Ben Bennett at DEFRA, Exeter. The
full correspondence is included below to place this into context:
Dear Mr Bennett,
Another matter that is now concerning many small farmers, having survived
the both the disease and the contiguous cull, is the prospect of re-stocking
on slaughtered premises. I have read the newsletter no. 11 which provides
an outline of the procedures involved but it does not address the central
issue for neighbouring farms i.e. what happens in the worst case scenario of
sentinel animals contracting FMD? Is the affected farm once again declared
an Infected Premises, with all that implies for neighbouring farms? Will
DEFRA try to impose the already discredited contiguous cull once more?
It is important that DEFRA make a clear statement on this issue at the
earliest opportunity so that the many farmers at risk will know where they
I look forward to hearing from you in this regard.
Dear Mr Beat
In response to your e-mail I would wish to state the following :
If sentinel animals on restocked farms were found to have FMD the premises would be defined as an Infected Premises and in these circumstances it would be necessary to assess the contiguous farms to see if culling would also need to be carried out on these premises. Far from being discredited, the contiguous cull has been demonstrated as being highly effective in the limitation of the spread of disease. Scientific opinion will vary, as always, on such matters but one opinion need not necessarily be correct merely because one agrees with its conclusions.
Dear Mr Bennett,
Thanks for your reply on the position following re-stocking. I confess surprise at your comments on this, and also on the subject of the contiguous cull. I must now pursue both points further.
Taking the contiguous cull first, it is agreed that scientific opinion varies, but you will recall that I have requested from you the scientific evidence that supports this concept, and that the references that you subsequently supplied were a paper by Anderson's Imperial College team and an article describing the views of David King. Unfortunately neither of these supply any scientific evidence of an independent nature, since both Anderson and King have a direct personal interest in the contiguous cull policy; and whilst these men are both scientists eminent in their respective fields, namely epidemiology and chemistry, neither have any expertise in veterinary science in general nor foot and mouth disease in particular.
I have sought the views of those scientists who are highly qualified in the relevant fields and find that they do not support the contiguous cull. Paul Kitching, ex-Pirbright; Alex Donaldson of Pirbright; and Fred Brown of Plum Island USA are regarded as among the world's leading authorities on this disease. All three have criticised the contiguous cull as unnecessary, as having no basis in veterinary science, and as having serious flaws in the assumptions upon which the policy was originally based.
In more practical terms, of 150 premises I have traced where the contiguous cull was refused, mostly here in Devon, only one actually went on to develop clinical FMD, while all the rest are now progressively being cleared by blood testing.
It is therefore reasonable to say that the contiguous cull is discredited on both scientific and empirical grounds. If you are able to supply evidence to the contrary, I would be most interested to see it.
Moving on to the re-stocking of previously infected premises, it is extraordinary that DEFRA should propose to proceed on the basis that you describe. Whilst the risk of sentinel animals developing disease may be relatively low, it remains a risk nevertheless and DEFRA is both morally and legally obliged to manage that risk in accordance with best practise. That means carrying out a detailed veterinary assessment of the premises with a view to containing any possible disease within the boundary of the premises by means of appropriate physical barriers, for example an unstocked strip of land against outside boundaries, in conjunction with appropriate biosecurity measures; all of this along the lines of the rare breeds "exemption from slaughter" rules that DEFRA unilaterally imposed when the perceived risk lay in the opposite direction. There will also need to be a written agreement with any stocked neighbouring premises detailing these security measures, with an undertaking from DEFRA that it will not seek to apply any form of contiguous culling in the event that disease is re-identified on the original infected premises.
It may be that neighbouring premises will also be able to take their own additional security measures, such as leaving boundary fields unstocked for the first few critical weeks following re-stocking, and this can be agreed between the parties in advance; but there can be no question of the neighbouring premises being placed at risk of slaughter either by DEFRA's own action, or by its deliberate inaction.
It often seems to those of us "on the ground" that desk-bound DEFRA employees are oblivious to the suffering that they have inflicted, not just upon livestock, but upon their fellow human beings as well. Among many others, my wife and I have been subjected to indescribable trauma over the past few months, and have been forced to devote a huge amount of our time and emotional energies to saving our small sheep flock from unjustified slaughter. Now that we are finally clear of this threat, after months of uncertainty, any proposal to push us back into the shadow of the contiguous cull once again is both inhuman and morally obscene.
I refuse to accept this situation and respectfully suggest that you think again.
Our comment: We have copied this correspondence to Alayne Addy
for her legal opinion and will keep you posted on this.
Betty has sent in this message from Holland:
We had a phone call from the editor in chief of a big newspaper in Holland.
He posed the question: is there a hidden agenda in England.
We called our informant in Brussels who told us:
England signed the WTO agreement stating that from 2005 23% of the
consumption should be imported, if not there would be a very large penalty.
England has a surplus of sheep therefore FMD was and is most welcomed.
Is there any truth in this?
Bryn is not amused by Mr Morley's antics!:
There is a minister we pay a considerable salary to and in my humble opinion does not deserve one penny of it.
We even give him the title, "Agriculture Minister".
This man is meant to know what the hell he is doing, as a professional, yet he comes up with this astounding statement related to the slaughter in the Brecon Beacons,
"Morely 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.''
Many of you will know he is talking a load of dross, and must qualify for one of the most ignorant Ministers to hold office; to lessen his ignorance of vaccination in sheep - in relationship to FMD - let me share with you just TWO countries not too far away that do just that. Countries less well endowed with cash, countries whose government have not looted the public purse of #BILLIONS to control FMD.
I cannot inform Morley myself, because he has barred my email messages to him after I asked too many questions !
Perhaps one of you can enlighten the Agricultural Minister (ha ! what a bloody joke) he needs to go back to school.
Perhaps an educational visit to KAZAKHSTAN is in order to see how humanely they treat animals.
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE IN
In Thrace region (follow-up report No. 2: end of the outbreak)
Information received on 20 July 2001 from Dr H|seyin Sungur, General Director of Protection and Control, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Ankara:
End of previous report period: 10 July 2001 (see Disease Information, 14 , 176, dated 13 July 2001).
End of this report period: 20 July 2001.
According to the results of surveillance, the disease has ended in the region.
A total of 7,547 cattle and 7,020 sheep and goats in 12 villages around the outbreak have been vaccinated with trivalent foot and mouth disease vaccine.
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE IN KAZAKHSTAN
Follow-up report No. 2 (end of the outbreak)
Translation of information received on 23 July 2001 from Dr Shakhaidar Tursunkulov, Director, Veterinary Surveillance Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Astana:
End of previous report period: 18 June 2001 (see Disease Information, 14 , 172, dated 6 July 2001).
End of this report period: 20 July 2001.
Total number of animals in the outbreaks (updated data):
Causal agent: foot and mouth disease virus type O1.
Control measures during reporting period:
- the relevant services have been informed;
- movement restrictions in the localities of Mirny (Osakarovka district) and Koiandy (Tselinograd district) and in the zone at risk (30 km around the outbreaks), with a ban on the entry, exit and transit of goods;
- vaccination of all animals in the outbreaks and the zones at risk;
- cleaning and disinfection of the affected farms;
- sick animals are euthanised and their cadavers destroyed by incineration.
Total number of vaccinations performed in the country
Kazakhstan declares freedom from foot and mouth disease in livestock.
- UPDATE 20
Richard North (Dr)
Research Director EDD (European Parliament)
29 July 2001
There have been many rumours, not least following a recent report in Farmers
Guardian, of the existence of an EU livestock depopulation fund, that there
is a sinister EU plot to wipe out the UK livestock industry.
While it is easy to believe that any manner of evils emanate from the
European Union, it has to be said that there is no evidence of such a fund
existing. Should there have been, there would have had to have been Council
approval, promulgated by way of a Decision. No such Decision has been
published and it is unlikely that it could have been made. This type of
'support' to member states is highly contentious - both the Netherlands and
France have applied to the EU for similar funds and have been refused. Had
the UK been granted additional funding, I am sure that both these countries
would have kicked up an enormous stink, which could hardly have passed
Furthermore, it should be remembered that, at the last but one Agriculture
Council meeting, measures were put in place to reduce the beef surplus, not
least of which was decreasing the permissible stocking rate for the beef
extensification premium. However, the Council exempted the UK from the
provisions, because of its FMD crisis.
What makes the rumour that much more implausible, however, is that there is
no need for the EU to promote a reduction in UK livestock when Her Majesty's
Government seems to be quite keen on doing the job without any external
In this context, it should be remembered that, just over two years ago, a
mass cull of sheep was on the cards because of the collapse in ewe prices.
In September 1999, the Meat and Livestock Commission presented MAFF with a #6
million ewe slaughter plan which the then minister, Nick Brown, considered
had 'some merit'. Private storage aid was also being proposed.
As it was, the slaughter plan did not go ahead because permission was not
given by the EU. But the problem did not go away and the UK was left with a
structural sheep surplus and no means of remedying the situation. Thus,
foot-and-mouth disease actually presented HMG with an opportunity of reducing
the sheep population, paying compensation to slaughter animals which in more
normal times would have been declared illegal by the EU. One wonders whether
this is one more reason why the government was so reluctant to vaccinate.
Furthermore, one can also see in this a reason why the NFU should also have
been against vaccination, and so very much in favour of slaughter. As late
as 11 February 2000, Bell Gill - alongside economist Sean Rickard - in a
presentation on financial support for farmers (published on the FWI website)
- argued that 'Ultimately, supply must be reduced which means less farmers,
and the sooner the necessary adjustment is made the more security there will
be for those better managed, lower cost enterprises'. Clearly, Gill would
be quite happy to see a number of small farmers driven out of business, to
leave the pickings to his 'low cost' - i.e., bigger - enterprises. FMD has
provided the opportunity.
But there is quite possibly another, as yet undeclared agenda. Although many
people have remarked on the uneasy fit between agriculture and environment,
with their shotgun marriage in DEFRA, a certain commonality of purpose
emerged earlier this month.
On the 22 July, Mrs Margaret Beckett, the nearest thing we have to an
agriculture minister, was in Bonn. But she was not on agricultural business.
Instead, she had been at the all-night climate change talks where, amongst
other things, amendments to the Kyoto protocal were agreed, not least of
which were the use of 'carbon-sinks' as a means of offsetting carbon dioxide
emissions in order to reduce 'global warming'. One mechanism for providing
carbon sinks is, of course, massive forestation.
It would thus suit Mrs Beckett fine if the hills were stripped of livestock
and trees were planted in their stead, helping the government to meet its
Kyoto obligations. This would explain DEFRA's enthusiasm for slaughtering
the hefted sheep on the Brecons and the mass slaughter of Cumbrian and
Scottish sheep. It also augers ill for the flocks on the North Yorks Moors.
Another 'straw in the wind' is the recent Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds report entitled Futurescapes: Large Scale Habitat Restoration for
Wildlife and People - featured in the current edition of the Observer. This
calls for 400,000 acres of farmland to be 'returned to nature', and the
creation of 250,000 acres of new woodland. Interestingly, nothing of this
was mentioned earlier this month at the RSPB conference on agriculture and it
seems just too much of a coincidence that the report should appear so soon
after the climate-change summit.
How convenient it is that the RSPB should ague that, 'rather than paying
farmers to restock uplands, such as the Lake District, with sheep that nobody
wants to buy, large parts of it should be returned to its natural habitat of
woodland, heather and gorse for tourists and visitors to enjoy'.
One wonders if public opinion is being softened up. With the right 'spin'
from NuLab about reducing global warming and saving the environment, and the
overt support of key conservation groups - plus the drip of anti-farmer
propaganda, such as the current publicity on farmers spreading FMD- and there
is a distinct possibility that the elimination of hill farming could become
acceptable to the general public. Instead of farmers being linked with the
'environment' they would be linked with global warming and habitat
destruction and their elimination would be seen as a 'good thing'.
Perversely, this would explain the sudden rush of interest in vaccination to
create a firebreak around Thirsk, thus protecting the pigs of Humberside and
Lincolnshire - these areas would not be on the list for forestation.
Putting two and two together - and possibly making five - there begins to
emerge an interesting - if not sinister - possibility that foot-and-mouth
disease is being used as a cover to depopulate the hills. But this is not an
EU conspiracy - albeit that the Community would be happy to see it happen.
The plot - if it exists - is entirely home-grown.
From the warmwell website:
was now sensible and that there is no justification whatsoever for not eating vaccinated meat. Close followers of the crisis will share surprise at this sudden volte face.
From the Yorkshire Post:
cull starts as Vale is threatened
ONE of the biggest foot and mouth culls in the region was underway in North Yorkshire yesterday as the Government ordered the slaughter of nearly 9,000 pigs to reinforce its determination to stop the virus spreading across the Vale of York.
The sows and piglets, valued at more than #500,000, are on a high security, disease free, intensive breeding unit at the Second World War bomber airfield at Skipton-on-Swale, between the A1 and Thirsk.
The 1,000 breeding sows, 1,500 piglets and 6,150 larger pigs, some of which were on an adjoining free-range outdoor unit near Sand Hutton, are being slaughtered and taken in a fleet of sealed lorries to Lancaster to be rendered.
Ministry vets, who began supervising the slaughter on Saturday, have not found any sign of infection in the animals during the first two days of the operation, but they are being killed as a precaution because the unit is regarded as a dangerous contact.
Their owner, Robin Bosomworth and his son, Trevor, had 211 cattle slaughtered at Abbotts Close Farm at Sutton Road, Thirsk, after foot and mouth disease was confirmed there on Friday. Nearly 300 cattle had to be slaughtered at their home at Marderby Hall.
Confirmation of the disease among the cattle meant the slaughter of the pigs was inevitable even though they are eight miles away. Richard Lister, a pig farmer from Boroughbridge, said: "I know Trevor and his father have run the enterprises separately and there has been no contact involving staff or machinery for at least a month.
"They have done everything they could to separate the units. I know Trevor was desperately hoping they would save something, but the Ministry had no real alternative given the pressure they are under to keep the disease out of the Vale of York."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was one of the largest groups of animals they had dealt with in the region. "The vets will continue to look for signs of disease as they go along but we are hopeful they will not find any.
"The pigs had to be slaughtered because of the dangerous contact. We cannot take any chances because if pigs get the disease they become foot and mouth factories and the virus is spread rapidly."
More from the warmwell site:
A CUMBRIAN family face a legal bill
of up to #40,000 after their teenage son's pet goats were slaughtered because
they were deemed to be a foot-and-mouth risk to 1,500 nearby cattle. Christine
and John Hodgson, of Pear Tree House, Newton Arlosh, near Wigton, withdrew
their challenge in the High Court in London yesterday against the decision by
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to cull the animals
after blood tests revealed six of the nine goats had developed positive
antibodies. Just hours later, at around 2pm, Defra officials moved onto the
premises to slaughter the animals. The goats, with names including Billy, Spot,
Weather, Izzy and Milky, were the much-loved pets of the Hodgsons' 16-year-old
son Joseph, who was born with cerebral palsy and has learning difficulties. A
Vietnamese pot-bellied pig was also killed....The court costs could be as much
as #40,000. "We just don't have that sort of money. It is a
tragedy the Government insists on slaughtering animals with antibodies.
"These are healthy animals which have never shown any signs of the disease
and by virtue of having developed antibodies are now naturally
(warmwell comment: if the goats had had this highly infectious disease before developing antibodies as the "tests" claim, how was it that the pig, their constant companion, remained unaffected?)Calls for a vaccination campaign to beat foot and mouth were enthusiastically welcomed at a public meeting in Penrith last night. More than 300 people packed into Penrith Rugby Club to hear a succession of speakers call for vaccination and "direct action'' to change Government policy.posted July 29
From the BBC Devon website:
Farmer refuses to pay fine
A North Devon farmer is willing to go to jail rather than pay a fine for protesting about the Government's foot-and-mouth cull.
Hector Christie has been told to expect bailiffs at his family's estate at Tapeley Park, Instow, to enforce a magistrates court fine.
Mr Christie was ordered to pay the money after he admitted obstruction in Bideford while campaigning against the cull. He says he will pay but only if the Government changes its policy. Otherwise he will continue to make a stand and risk prison.
County inquiry into crisis
Devon County Council has announced it will be holding its own inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis.
It says the findings will be presented to the national public inquiry into the disease, if one is held. The all-party decision to set up a series of hearings in Devon into the crisis was taken by the Council's Executive Committee.
A special select committee will be set up to lead the investigation and the council says it is planning to link up with district councils in the worst affected areas as well as other interest groups.
If no national inquiry into the disease is held, the
findings will be used to back the council's case for Devon's recovery plan in
negotiations with the Government. The full county council has yet to approve
the idea, but it is hoped that hearings could begin in the autumn.
Finally tonight, our thanks to Bonnie for sorting out some incorrect fax numbers from the other side of the world:
Hi Alan and Rosie,
The fax numbers supplied in Sunday's e-mail did not seem to work.
This morning, British Consulate in San Francisco offered the following
numbers. We were able to get thru on both fax lines.
The Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett, M.P.,
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
17 Smith Square.
London, SW1P 3JR
The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, MP.,
10 Downing Street
British Consulate San Francisco
from Alan & Rosie