We ask the same question that is on everyone's lips  -  why?  What has been gained by killing these cattle?

The Western Morning News has focussed strongly on this story - and also has a special report inside the paper on foot and mouth. 

I felt heartbroken when I heard what had happened - only the day before, Mr. Winslade had said that the thought of his pride and joy, two healthy sets of twin calves born six weeks ago, being slaughtered because of an extremely narrow theoretical risk of them contracting f and m, filled him with anger. "For the first time in 54 years of farming I have two sets of twins which have survived", he said, "There's always a strong one and a weak one, but this time both the weaker calves have survived.  I had two sets of twins once before, but they died.  The compensation money is all very well, but I'd hate to see the little calves killed".

He went on to say, "If I were a hard-headed business man, I'd probably be letting the slaughterers go ahead and taking compensation.  But I'm not.  I'm a farmer.  I had two sets of twin calves this year and I struggled to keep them alive, and I look at them and I think, why should I let these people kill them when they haven't even had a life?"

Nearest farm with remaining stock is more than half a mile away.  Les did his best - forked out #1500 in legal costs - but, in the end, his wife was ill with worry and he gave in under pressure.

I went out in the garden earlier tonight.  It was a warm evening, full of singing birds and the lovely scent of lilac - and I sat down on the grass and cried my eyes out.  It is impossible to really enjoy this beautiful spring when I know what is happening to people and animals in other places.  I feel so sorry that I cannot do more.

We seem to have overcome the computer glitch that prevented us from including Matt Knight's account of the Beech Grove Farm stand-off.  Here now is what he told us over the telephone late on Wednesday evening:

He arrived at the farm around midnight, meeting a few close relatives of the Winslades at the farm entrance barricade.  After a brief sleep in their vehicles, they were on watch from 4 am.  A police car looked in around 5.30 am, presumably to assess the situation and found six protestors in position. At 9.30 am the police returned accompanied by the two valuers, to find
around 20 protestors gathered.  The valuers were challenged to read and sign a declaration that they would accept individual responsibility for their actions etc., but refused, so they were denied access and left.

The protestors felled two good-sized trees across the farm lane to prevent vehicle access, and also positioned several of their number hiding in the hedges of the fields as a defence against possible surprise entry and slaughter in the open i.e. rifles could not be used with protestors in the firing zone.  They also had to try and watch a rear entrance to the farm so were thinly spread, with around 20 people present at any one time.

At midday a convoy of police vehicles arrived at the front barricade to disgorge a heavy police presence of 30 officers clad in protective gear i.e. flak jackets, padded trousers etc.  These enforced an entry for the valuers plus other MAFF officials who walked the farm lane to confront the Winslades
in their home.  There followed an afternoon of negotiation - Matt described it as bullying - during which it was made clear to the Winslades that if they insisted on going to appeal against the court injunction, they would be liable for legal costs of thirty to forty thousand pounds if the case was
lost.  John Gouriet of Freedom in Action was present to support the family with legal advice during this confrontation.  However, in the end Mr Winslade decided that his wife could not stand this pressure any longer and signed the valuation form giving permission to slaughter.  The cattle were rounded up from the fields and slaughter took place from 6 pm that evening.

There was an average of 20 protestors present through the day, perhaps 40 people involved all told as some left and others arrived.  Three of the Winslades daughters and a son were there to support their parents.  There was a strong press and TV presence throughout of 10 to 15 people.  Matt confirmed that the cattle looked very well indeed with no hint of any disease, in fact they had been inspected late on the Tuesday by a ministry
vet and found healthy.

We ask the same question that is on everyone's lips  -  why?  What has been gained by killing these cattle?

Thank you for your efforts, Matt, and thanks to all who turned up to protest.  This case has been lost, but the huge publicity generated by it may have far-reaching effects.  The Western Morning News in particular has given front-page coverage to the story as part of their on-going campaign on FMD issues, and today's issue is essential reading - get hold of a copy if
you possibly can.  In it, the chairman of Devon NFU David Hill writes a damning critique of the contiguous cull policy, using language that we had almost lost hope of ever hearing from the NFU.  He admits that he has been advising his members to resist the cull if no disease was present on their farms, and he states that the vast majority of farmers are opposed to the
contiguous culling policy, in stark contrast to the official NFU line that we have all grown sick of hearing.  Why this has not been admitted publicly before now, he does not say.
The politicians, from Tony Blair downwards, have consistently argued that the government cannot implement their FMD policies without the support and co-operation of the farming community - remember that is why vaccination was pushed off the agenda.  So now, by the same argument, they can no longer proceed with the contiguous cull policy in Devon.  If the farmers ever did
support it at first, they most certainly do not support it now.  Please take every opportunity to ram this point home with politicians, the media and the public in general as we continue to press for change.

Jacquita Allender ~ Alan Beat May 2001