Our regional newspaper, the Western Morning News, headlines the Devon
Inquiry report released today with the words "Never Again".
This report from the Telegraph:
Government 'lamentable' over foot and mouth
By Richard Savill
A REPORT into the foot and mouth crisis today describes the Government's
handling of the epidemic as "lamentable".
The report, the outcome of the only independent public inquiry into the
outbreak, finds fault with almost every aspect of the Government's approach.
It accuses the Government and its agencies of "insensitive treatment" of
ordinary individuals and communities, and none of those involved escapes
It says: "Reports received by the inquiry of insensitive and even
belligerent operatives and bungled culls do little to enhance the
professional reputation of all those involved, from ministers downwards.
"If culling on or beyond confirmed infected farms should persist then the
actual process of killing animals must be handled more sensitively and more
The report says the contiguous cull policy "appeared to have been
implemented by officials poring over maps in remote offices, so that only
holdings were considered, not the topography, the disposition of animals
upon it, nor the distances between them."
The 20-page report makes 31 recommendations and is the result of this
month's five-day public inquiry chaired by Prof Ian Mercer into the outbreak
in Devon, one of the worst-affected counties.
In his foreword, Prof Mercer, 68, the former secretary general of
Association of National Park Authorities, says it is "already clear that the
outbreak and the handling of the ensuing crisis was lamentable".
The report goes on to say that there should be an immediate ban on animal
movements on the first day of any future outbreak.
The inquiry heard that the Government's delay between announcing the first
case and stopping all animal movements meant hundreds of thousands of sheep
were moved, spreading the disease across the country.
The report also says that vaccination must be considered to help the
temporary containment of any future epidemic. It calls for a national
contingency plan, such as that produced for maritime pollution response by
the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The report adds that situations arose in Devon where "the insensitive
treatment of ordinary individuals and communities confronted by events
outside their control did nothing to foster a united front or provide
community leadership against the common enemy - the disease itself".
Lessons that should have been learned from the 1967 outbreak did not appear
to have been implemented and "recommendations of the official report into
that outbreak were ignored".
The inquiry was set up by Devon County Council, with all-party support, and
the inquiry team, which heard 50 witnesses and received written submissions
from another 300, comprised seven county and district councillors.
The Government has announced three inquiries into the foot and mouth crisis,
but unlike Devon, it has rejected demands from the farming community to hear
evidence in public.
Prof Mercer has sent his preliminary findings - a full report is to be
published later this year - to Tony Blair, Lord Haskins, the Government's
rural recovery co-ordinator, and Lord Whitty, the minister responsible for
co-ordinating Defra evidence to the foot and mouth inquiries.
From the Warmwell website:
F&M staff paid bonuses despite concerns
By Jamie Lyons, PA
Bonuses were paid to Welsh Assembly staff handling the foot-and-mouth
crisis -despite the finance minister's ''great reservations'' about such
rewards, it emerged today. Edwina Hart said Assembly officials had been
rewarded for their exceptional work during the outbreak. Mrs Hart told
today's plenary session: ''Bonus payments were given to Assembly staff
involved in foot-and-mouth as recognition of what happened in that period.''
The revelation came minutes after Mrs Hart told AMs of her objection to such
payments. ''I personally have very great reservations about the
effectiveness of any performance bonuses,'' she said. (warmwell note: Yes,
we have too. And in this case, we cannot help but wonder what "performance"
was thought worthy of such reward while welsh farmers continue to struggle
painfully under restrictions and hardships brought about by these servants
of the government. While the Devon report describes the policy as
"lamentable" and remarks, "Reports of insensitive and even belligerent
operatives and bungled culls do little to enhance the professional
reputation of those involved, from ministers downwards" we have to wonder
for what services exactly these bonuses in Wales were paid. )
The minister said in certain cases bonus payments were justified. But she
said she had concerns about the manipulation of some systems of
posted Oct 29
Export delay frustrates farmers
The EU has raised restrictions on the export of pig meat Farmers have
expressed disappointment that the government has failed to implement
regulations allowing British meat to be exported to Europe for the first
time since the foot-and-mouth crisis began. Exports should have started a
week ago after the European Union (EU) lifted the ban on the export of pig
meat from animals raised in counties completely free of foot-and-mouth.
.............. Last week Margaret Beckett said she was unaware of any
difficulties starting exports. But officials at the Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) admit it could still be a few
more days before British meat can be imported into Europe. It appears the
stringent licensing system demanded by the committee is far from being in
place. A spokesman for the Meat and Livestock Commission said there were
already thousands of pounds worth of orders from Europe waiting to be
Our comment: What did we say about "moving the goal-posts"?
MP says bio-terrorists could be behind foot-and-mouth
An MP says that foot-and-mouth disease may have been introduced to Britain
by terrorists as a biological attack. The claim comes from Bruce George, the
chairman of the House of Commons defence select committee. He says the idea
is "very possible", although he does not think it likely.
(warmwell note: "bio terrorists" were behind the foot and mouth policy all
right; unfortunately they were not fanatic foreigners but part of our own
so-called establishment. The catastrophe might be a little less hard to bear
if this were not the case.) He told Radio Five Live's Late Night Currie
show: "If it is possible to open a letter and then be contaminated with
anthrax it is possible, although I do not think at this stage it is likely,
that foot-and-mouth was a deliberate attempt to destroy animals and human
beings. "I think it is being considered." He made his comments during a
phone-in on the programme.
From the Farmers Weekly website:
29 October 2001
We made mistakes, admits minister
By Adrienne Francis
FOOD and Farming Minister Lord Whitty has admitted that the government made
mistakes in its handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis.
The Labour peer was responding to a preliminary report from the Devon public
inquiry into the epidemic, published on Monday (29 October).
He dismissed suggestions that the government was ill-prepared for the crisis
but admitted that its contingency plan should have been better publicised.
There was a contingency plan which was continually updated, Lord Whitty
insisted to reporters during a media briefing in London.
But it was not sufficiently shared with stakeholders, he admitted.
Future contingency plans must be shared more widely and be subject to
widespread testing to make sure they are effective, Lord Whitty said.
Nevertheless, he defended the policy of trying to cull livestock on infected
farms within 24 hours and those on nearby farms within 48 hours.
Had the 24-48 hour cull been fully effective, it would have been the best
way of controlling the disease, Lord Whitty said.
But logistical problems and resistance among farmers had slowed it down.
Lord Whitty also defended the government's decision not to vaccinate against
the disease, saying too few farmers had supported the idea.
The government had considered vaccination very seriously, but would have
needed 80-90% compliance for it to be successful, he said.
Lord Whitty acknowledged there was understandable concern over burning pyres
which were "clearly not the best way" to deal with the disease.
And he described the issue of illegal meat imports, blamed by some people
for bringing foot-and-mouth into the UK, as "quite serious".
"This is something we need to tackle and must address," he said.
"However, in the global system, there is always bound to be some leakage of
the disease no matter how many checks are made.
"The key element is then to ensure that it doesn't get into the food chain,
so we need to address food security to control spread around the country."
Our comment: Lord Whitty has already proved himself to be a capable liar,
but in this report he excels himself. What contingency plan, for example?
Despite constant requests, no-one in government has ever been able to
produce one. Either it doesn't exist, or it is so inadequate that to show
it would be even worse than continuing to hide it. And the 24/48 hour cull
was the best way of controlling the disease, was it? Eight million dead
animals and more than #20 billion pounds-worth of damage to the economy
indicates to most thinking people that "the policy" was not a successful
experiment after all.
But then, of course, "resistance" amongst farmers had slowed things down!
Alan is trying to find a newspaper to publish an article he has written on
the Imperial College computer modelling theories. In this, he demonstrates
that the input data to the models were wrong - so badly wrong that the
models are completely invalidated. Put rubbish in, get rubbish out. But
the newspapers do not seem keen to print such damaging material . . . . . .
. . . suffice to say that the relatively small number of farmers who
resisted the cull made no difference to a flawed policy that was doomed to
failure from the start. The small effect they had was actually beneficial,
as by reducing the scale of slaughter slightly on contiguous farms, they
released resources for infected farms that were far more important in terms
of disease control.
For Lord Whitty to blame these farmers for the shambolic failure of his own
administration takes hypocrisy to new depths, and grossly insults those who
stood against the terrorism of their own government.
29 October 2001
Farmer burns flag in food protest
By FWi staff
A BRITISH farmer burned an American flag in protest at global food policies
which, he claims, are driving small producers out of business.
Hector Christie, a pig farmer from North Devon, burned the flag during a
protest before 50 protestors in Gloucestershire on Saturday (27 October).
Mr Christie from Tapely Farm, near Bideford, said: "Small farmers are being
crushed beneath globally-centred economics and loaded legislation."
Low prices had forced Mr Christie to kill 11 piglets. Even giving away the
animals would have cost him #150 in vet bills and #55 in transport costs.
Mr Christie said he burned the American flag in response to World Trade
Organisation rules which were hurting small farmers.
"We are currently killing thousands of animals per day because we can't move
or sell them while exports roll in by the lorry load," he said.
"We incinerate or bury our healthy animals while Afghans starve."
The Marquess of Worcester, formerly TV actress Tracey Ward, also warned that
global food policies were killing Britain's small farmers
She was cheered as she spoke from the bandstand in Gloucester Park,
Gloucester, before marching on the city's Shire Hall.
Farmers are being strangled by supermarkets who buy food from abroad rather
than using healthy produce grown on their doorstep, she said.
The 42-year-old marquess, who lives on the Badminton Estate, now works as an
ecologist supporting local farmers.
Among the marchers were Cornish farmer Simon Burbage and Gloucestershire
farmer Sue Osbourne.
Mr Burbage said: "Quite why we need to go to Afghanistan to fight terrorism
I don't know. We have a terrorist called Tony Blair in Whitehall."
"He has shown a total disregard for every rural issue."
Mrs Osbourne said: "Foot-and-mouth has been swept under the carpet so Tony
Blair can get on with his war."
This contribution comes from Andy:
A is for Appleby, Allendale and angst
B is for Beckett, bullshit and Blair
C is for cock up, cattle and cull
D is for Devon, DEFRA and death
E is for exports, experts and ewes
F is for Friesians, falsehoods and fires
G is for Galloway, genetics and Gill
H is for Hexham, hefted and hell
I is for infection, inquiry and ire
J is for Jacobs, Jerseys and jerks
K is for Kelso, killing and King
L is for Labour, lying and lambs
M is for MAAFia, murder and myth
N is for Northumberland, nightmares and nerds
O is for outrage, offal and oaths
P is for politics, pallets and pyres
Q is for quislings, quotas and qualms
R is for requiem, revulsion and rams
S is for scrapie, slaughter and sheep
T is for testing, trenches and tears
U is for U-turns, untruths and Usk
V is for virus, vaccine (if only!) and vets
W is for Whitby, whitewash and woe
X is for X rays, X files and xxxx's
Y is for Yorkshire, yeoman and yields
Z is for Zimbabwe, zero and zzzzzzzzzz
Thought for the day...........
I am what I eat;
I eat beef so I must have BSE
I eat lamb so I must have scrapie
I eat pork so I must have blue ear disease
I eat eggs so I must have salmonella
I eat fish so I must have mercury poisoning
I eat cheese so I must have listeria
I eat Soya so I must be genetically modified
Therefore I am either
a) a mad scientist
b) a mad politician
c) a chemistry set
Dear Alan and Rosie,
Regarding yesterday's joke.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2001 1:54 PM
Subject: Farming Guide for Defra
While we applaud your 'Farming Guide for Defra' [FW 26th October 2001]; and
agree that such a guide is needed, we are concerned that, in its present
form, it might compound Defra's confusion. The item in the centre of the
bottom row, labelled "milk (from cows)" looks remarkably like some of the
milk from sheep which we produce on our farm - and even like some of the
milk from goats that we have seen. We suggest that it would be prudent to
advise DNA tests to ensure that further embarassing confusion of the bovine,
ovine - and caprine is avoided.
Karen & Lawrence
from Alan & Rosie