Had a telephone conversation at the weekend with a farmer in Cumbria who is
active within the Cumbria Crisis Alliance, an association representing
farming, business and tourism interests which has worked its way up to
"stakeholder" status to gain access to ministers and decision makers.
There's been a lot of talking, and a sense has emerged that government
privately accepts it has gone down the wrong road, and that a future
epidemic will be handled differently. But of course, they will not admit
this now, in public.
On vaccination, my informant said that farmers in his area were not against
vaccination as such, but did have real concerns over the effects of
vaccination on marketing of their products. He felt that once these two
very different issues were seperated from each other, farmers were for
vaccination, but wanted marketing implications to be re-assessed by
He told me some heart-rending stories of prize-winning rare breed livestock
slaughtered under the contiguous culling policy, leaving their owners
devastated. At the other end of the scale were the cheats playing the
system, with infection deliberately moved to farms that wanted the
compensation; or cleaning contractors earning #10 an hour that were also
claiming social security benefits, and so on.
He made a final intriguing comment; did we know who former minister Nick
Brown's brother-in-law was? We didn't so he said a name - it sounded like
Snowie - and explained that this was the largest C & D contractor in the
north of England, whose last invoice to DEFRA was for #7 million. He said
"it stinks". We have no way of confirming the authenticity of this, but it
sounds worthy of further investigation . . . . . .
# # #
Son Martin fell ill last week with a fever, sore throat and head-to-toe
rash. One doctor diagnosed glandular fever (a virus), a second suspected a
streptococcal throat infection (a bacteria), so blood samples and throat
swabs were taken for laboratory analysis. Meanwhile he was prescribed a
course of antibiotics. After a few days he was feeling much better and the
time came to ring the surgery for the test results.
Guess what? The throat swabs showed no trace of "unusual microflora". The
blood tests were negative for glandular fever - but we were told that this
did not necessarily mean that the virus was not present, as it takes time
for the antibodies to develop in the bloodstream, so a negative result can
be obtained in the early stages of infection.
This all sounded very familiar for some reason . . . . . . .
# # #
This contribution comes from Janet:
Dear Alan & Rosie
Val's comments were interesting and I share her feelings. However, whilst
there are farmers( and that includes most in this country) who are dependent
on farming as a main income, then the Government has the whip hand. Most
have to cave in at some point if pressure is applied - unless the Government
go too far ,as they appear to be doing in the Furness peninsular. I think I
read in Abigail Woods' history of FMD that there was a revolt of farmers in
1922-24 and if restrictions start to get too silly then I think even the
most conservative types may rebel. And that is what is necessary - for every
farmer to say "no - we dont want this policy any more", for every vet to
refuse to implement slaughter. Wishful thinking perhaps.
For part timers - and remember Lord Haskins says there will be more of us -
things might be easier. If you do not rely on the farming income absolutely,
the Government has less control over you. Perhaps we need a network to rival
the NFU? If the concerned people I have contacted via the internet are
anything to go by the combined brain power far outweighs anything the NFU
has to offer!
Possibly the best way to change policies is to find ways of making the
current ones politically embarrassing. Remember a politician's main concern
is to retain power and anything that goes against this is to be avoided. Any
psychologists out there?
I personally doubt that Mr Blair will implement slaughter again once this is
over but I think we do have to find ways of taking control of our farming
lives - inasmuch as anyone is allowed to take control of their lives these
Our comment: There are several good points raised here. There does now
appear to be the real prospect of a revolt among some farmers who have had
no financial support whatever from government yet are prevented by
restrictions from moving stock to earn any income. If the "tail" of the
epidemic persists into the winter, this situation could really back-fire on
the authorities and be a powerful means of forcing change.
Yes, we do need an alternative to the NFU and this has already been
appreciated by many others. There are several possible developments in the
pipeline here and we are watching these with interest. We believe the NFU
has shot itself firmly in the foot during this crisis and will loose many
more members as a result - it has shown itself to be a dinosaur, too big and
too slow to adapt to a new and unexpected situation.
Janet's final paragraph holds the key to the future - we MUST regain control
of our own lives from a government which is obsessed with the centralisation
of power. We have seen this manifested in all walks of life, where the same
buzz-words crop up all the time - strategy, target, key points, policy,
assessment, scrutiny - and where an illusion of local self-determination is
actually limited to enforcing the strict criteria of centralised control.
Personally, we are sick and tired of being told what we must do with our own
livestock, while the ever-increasing system of controls has become a
bureaucratic nightmare. We will not conform to this nonsense in future and
if enough others join us in refusing to co-operate, the systems will become
# # #
Betty forwarded this item to us:
SECRET F&M WASTE DUMP
In between two unaffected farms
THE Government are secretly planning to dump the remains of foot and mouth-
infected cattle at a disused mine in Scotland.
But they were warned the hush-hush proposals for a makeshift tip could spark
outbreak of mad cow disease.
About 2000 tons of ash from cattle incinerated along the Borders is to be
up to 100 miles away between two farms that have stayed clear of foot and
It is destined for the open-cast Garlaff mine, near Cumnock, Ayrshire, which
owned by controversial construction magnate Bill Barr. He is accused of
scupper Airdrie FC over the cost of building their new stadium.
David Wardrop, 62, owns Dykes and Knockterra farms, which both border the
former open-cast mine.
David, who has 700 sheep and 200 beef cattle grazing on 320 acres, said last
night: "The thought that this is to be dumped right between our farms is
"I cannot see why the remains from the pyres should be brought to an area
we have worked damned hard to make sure we stay clean.
"It spreads easily enough without taking stupid chances."
Mr Wardrop said he wasn't consulted by the Scottish Executive for his views
their proposal to dump the ash next door to him.
The Executive's plan was condemned by MSPs, councillors, farmers and
East Ayrshire Council lodged an objection immediately. Their experts claimed
"there was a possibility" that the ash could contain elements which have
linked to BSE, and added: "It is felt the risk to public and animal health
the disposal of ash is unacceptable."
Dr Richard Dixon, head of research in Scotland for Friends of the Earth,
dumping plan raises health fears.
He added: "There could be the presence in the ash of prions, types of
which are in the brains of cows, and the material which carries mad cow
"It can survive high temperatures - even when cows are burned. So there
be some risk. This is a material that should be handled very carefully"
He also said there was a danger from cancer-causing and gender-bending
"These are among the most poisonous substances we know. They cause
changes in hormone levels in the body.
"Dioxins were being produced when the carcasses were on fire, so it is
reasonable to expect that there will be residue in the ash. By the very
nature of ash,
it could be blown about and inhaled by the people working on the landfill
"When it rains, dioxins could be washed into streams and burns, affecting
"As far as I am aware, there are landfill sites in Dumfries and Galloway. I
concerns of the Cumnock farmer. It seems strange." Carrick, Cumnock and Doon
Valley MSP, Cathy Jamieson, urged the Scottish Executive to think again, but
statement last night suggested the decision to dump at Garlaff had already
The Executive said: "Garlaff is the closest engineered landfill site in
Regulatory authorities are all content that the material is disposed of
Richard forwarded this article from the Ananova website:
Claims that major blunders made by workers drafted in to contain
foot-and-mouth may have spread the disease are being investigated.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is treating
seriously complaints that vital bio-security measures were ignored and
widespread mistakes were made on animal movement.
A list of alleged incidents came from a former field officer, Bryan Munro,
employed on a temporary basis by Defra during the height of the crisis in
The 47-year-old has reportedly sent secret papers and internal documentation
he received during his time with the department to the Evening Chronicle in
Newcastle upon Tyne.
Among Mr Munro's claims, he said farmers and Defra staff ignored vital
bio-security aimed at controlling the disease.
He claimed he saw lorries leaving the controversial Widdrington mass burial
site covered in contaminated ash and that staff on the site knew waste from
burning pyres of dead, infected animals was blowing on to nearby fields and
He also alleged that Defra was well aware that farmers were being offered
diseased animals to infect their herds and that people had reported
livestock holders for throwing contaminated carcass parts into their herds
Other allegations were made that lorry drivers tried to leave farms with
dirty wagons and outside contractors turned up to move animals without
Mr Munro said he had suffered scarring to his face and chest pains after he
was sprayed by highly concentrated disinfectant on one Northumberland farm.
Other Defra workers faced threats of violence from farmers, Mr Munro
claimed, including one who had a shotgun levelled at him when contractors
tried to remove stock.
From the Farmers Weekly website:
24 September 2001
Virus policy 'worse than disease'
By FWi staff
THE government's response to controlling foot-and-mouth disease has been
potentially more economically damaging than the disease itself, a heritage
group has claimed.
The Council for the Protection of Rural England says the government has made
false assumptions about the modern economy and the role of agriculture in
In a new report released on Monday (24 September) CPRE claims ministers
failed to recognise the economy of rural areas cannot be isolated off from
the wider economy.
Greg Hutcheon, head of rural policy, said the government failed to
appreciate how much businesses other than agriculture relied on an
"The initial response to "close the countryside" was based on the misnomer
of a separate rural economy isolated from the rest of the economy," he said.
"As a result, many businesses, in both town and country, have experienced
tremendous hardship and economic difficulties."
Mr Hutcheon said rural policy needed to reflect that the countryside was
about more than farming.
In turn it also had to be recognised that farming was about more than the
production of food and fibre," he said.
"Farming has a major contribution to make to the future of the countryside
but this will increasingly be about delivering a high quality and publicly
accessible rural environment upon which so many businesses depend," he said.
The organisation's report says that what the foot-and-mouth epidemic has
shown is the countryside is a national asset.
"It is tragedy, however, that it has taken such a major threat and possible
lasting damage to this asset for its true value to begin to be recognised,"
From The Scotsman:
Hard decisions ahead for landowners
ALTHOUGH they certainly will not see themselves as such, the protagonists in
the present debate on the future of agriculture are only bit players in one
of many sub-plots in a worldwide drama.
They can be forgiven for their lack of perspective. Foot-and-mouth following
hard on the heels of BSE is no small distraction, but unless they quickly
perceive the struggle for what it really is they will put their energies
into fighting the wrong enemy. They might win the battle, but ultimately
lose the war.
Many people of the green persuasion are intelligent and well educated. Why
then do they base their argument on instinct and emotion and attempt to
conceal that by the use of highly selective, biased information?
For instance, the World Trade Organisation and most of the developed world's
leaders are trying to rationalise production. What is so wrong with that?
Yet opposition ranges from violence in the streets to the deliberate
distortion of information.
Why, having for more than twenty years predicted ecological disaster only to
be proved wrong time after time, do respectable scientists manipulate their
data to promote the Kyoto Protocols on pollution and carbon emissions?
Strong passions are at work - farming needs to know the true public attitude
towards land use before it can formulate the correct survival strategy.
The dilemma is acute. Do we opt for small is beautiful and invoke protection
from competition we simply cannot match, while hoping nobody notices the
average Scottish farm is four times the EU average size?
Or do we join forces with the global warmers and argue for regionalisation
and an end to moving food half-way round the world when it can be grown
here - which sits uneasily with the need to export?
The decision would be much easier to make if we had remained in touch with
the mainstream of our society instead of adopting an ever more isolationist
But paradoxically it is in the decoupling of farming from society that the
seeds of a solution may be found.
The decoupling has been mutual and society's consequent sense of dislocation
underlies a good deal of the apparent antipathy toward yet more economic
growth, which finds its pastoral expression in the uprooting of genetically
modified crops or claims of environmental damage.
Farmers must accept that more is required of them. There are signs within
the industry that economic and environmental sustainability are acceptable
constraints - although the wilder demands of the iridescent greens are
rightly viewed with suspicion - but there is still a huge reluctance to face
up to the social requirements.
The relentless drive of the industry's union leadership toward bigger and
bigger units in ever fewer hands is completely at variance with social
sustainability and does not attract public sympathy.
If our food is to be produced from a sparsely populated landscape like
Kansas, then from the public perspective it might as well be in Kansas,
which would have the added advantage of being subsidised by American rather
than British taxpayers. The public are no longer prepared to support a tiny
and ever-diminishing group of highly privileged land owners.
Guessing who is going to win is a very tough call, but the balance must be
in favour of a high energy, global economy.
The evidence of significant, irreversible environmental damage simply is not
there, while the trump card of global warming has little to support it and
nothing to suggest that in the event we cannot adapt to it with much less
economic and social upheaval than would be caused by a serious reduction in
energy consumption. And besides, however uneasy we are about high
consumption, we are never going to be uneasy enough to actually stop doing
So what can farming do to avoid the ravages of competition in a high energy
global economy? Peter Holmes ` Court, CEO of the Australian Agricultural
Company, speaking with all the clout of 14.5 million acres and 375,000 head
of cattle, laid it on the line for us: "European farming has to make a
decision - is it going to be a lifestyle pursuit or is it going to compete?"
For Scotland with its climatic disadvantage there is only one answer to that
and NFU Scotland's strategy of ever larger units and artificial competition
is taking us in the wrong direction.
There is in Frans Fischler's opening address to International Green Week -
"We must not give credence to false gurus who say agriculture is an industry
just like any other" - a strong indication that protection from global
competition might be achievable whatever Lord Haskins and the other
shopkeepers who dominate our industry might say.
But if we are to utilise that goodwill we must become an integral part of
our society once again. If we try to remain in isolation we will end up like
the G8 leaders in Genoa whose perfectly benign purpose was so misunderstood
that they required the protection of a ring of steel and armed men.
We must welcome the return of the people to the land and the land to the
people and participate in the process of rural regeneration as principal
players not grudging, press-ganged aliens.
Our comment: We included this piece in the interests of balance! The
author has some extreme views (e.g. no evidence of global warming) and
strange "logic", yet in the end, he arrives at the correct answer to his own
From The Telegraph:
Sheep fair exhibits cardboard cut-outs
By Paul Stokes
AN annual sheep fair dating from medieval times will take place on Saturday
despite foot and mouth restrictions - using home-made models in place of
The crisis had threatened the traditional event in Masham, North Yorks,
before organisers came up with the novel solution. Pens will be set up as
usual in the market square to accommodate an array of cardboard cut-outs,
pantomime ewes and dogs dressed as sheep.
The fair, which usually attracts animals, owners and dealers from throughout
northern England, will raise funds for farmers suffering from the crisis.
Up to 80 exhibitors are expected at the Masham Sheep Fair dating from 1393,
when Richard II granted a market charter. By the 19th century tens of
thousands of animals were traded for the West Riding wool towns.
Usually about 500 sheep compete in 80 classes over the weekend. Farmers come
from Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland. This time there will be
"human sheepdog" trials in which blindfolded people have to guide one of the
flock - a model in a push-chair - into a pen, responding to the shepherd's
"The farmers and their sheep have provided the entertainment for the
townsfolk previously, so it seemed right that we did something to help them
in their hour of need," said Susan Cunliffe-Lister, the organiser.
"We are still under a restriction order which forbids animal movements. It
has been a terrible tragedy and this is some small attempt to help the
victims out with a bit of fun and ensure the sheep fair's tradition is
Our comment: We like this! And while we are at it, how about replacing
Members of Parliament with cardboard cut-outs as well - they'd be cheaper to
maintain and we would be spared all the hot air that emanates from the
originals, thus making a valuable contribution to the Kyoto agreement on
global warming . . . .
# # #
Finally, tonight's joke was sent in by Astrid (this one's for Lawrence):
Two yoghurts walk into a bar, and try to order drinks, the barman, himself a
tub of cottage cheese says "We don't serve your kind in here!" "Why not?"
replies one of the yoghurts, "We're cultured individuals."
From Alan & Rosie