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Radio 4 PM programme
From BBC PM programme  November 8th 2006
 
Presenter Eddie Mair : The fate of Harriet the cow made  it onto the floor of the House of Commons  yesterday.  Harriet is nine years old and is kept as a pet but she's been condemned to death because she apparently shared the feed of a cow that later died of BSE.  Under the rules she must be culled.  The Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean, Mark Harper, urged the animal welfare Minister, Ben Bradshaw, to spare Harriet.  He argued that the  feed was never shared and, in any case, as a pet, Harriet would never enter the food chain.  Mr Bradshaw said no final decision had been made but that there was no exemption for pet cattle. 
 
Reporting live from Gloucestershire, Chris Ledyard:
CL: Hello Eddie.  Yes, from Newent in Gloucestershire on the edge of the Forest of Dean  It's too dark now to be out in the field with Harriet obviously but a few hours ago I was down there with her owner, Liz, and a bag of potato peelings
 
Liz's voice: Come on you lot, come on Harrie...ooh, your nose!
 
CL: Is this Harriet, here?
Liz:  This is Harriet.  A nine year old Jersey
CL:  She's got a black face hasn't she?  They're quite often just pale brown all over, aren't they?
Liz:  No.  Her daughter's even darker.  You see the little tuft on the top?  See?
CL:  How long have you had her?
Liz:  Um, since 2000 so six years. (To the cow) Haven't we?
CL:  So she lives in this field which you rent with four others who are related in different ways to her.
Liz:  Sort of step children and children and friends  (sounds of mooing from the cows)
CL: And so she's very much a family pet?
Liz: Oh yes.  She's lovely.  She's very affectionate.  She's an excellent mum because whenever any of the others - like when Sarah's calved - she helps look after her and takes it on as well and checks if the calf's all right and runs around.  It's like being a grandmother.  It's lovely.
CL: She's probably totally unaware of this storm that's gathering around her.
Liz: Yes.  Thank Goodness. (To Harriet) You're not going to know anything about it, will you.  It's just when she's such a healthy animal, it's so sad, isn't it? Just to tick their box.  Mm?  Because you're lovely, aren't you?
 
CL: Well she is a lovely cow and I am back at home now with Liz and her partner David.  And the first you heard about Harriet's fate was when you got a letter, is that right?  That she was due to be slaughtered.  You had no idea up to that point?
Liz: No.  We had a phone call actually.   Early one morning they just said, "Can we make arrangements to come and slaughter the Jersey cow?"  We were absolutely shocked.  We'd had no idea.
CL: And since then it's been a battle, really?
Liz: Yes.  An ongoing battle ever since really.
CL: I was reading the transcript of the debate in the House of Commons about Harriet yesterday, and the Minister, Ben Bradshaw was making the point that it's been a real struggle for the government to get on top of BSE and they've had to be very rigorous in the way they enforce the rules.  I mean, do you see his point of view?
Liz: I appreciate that, yes.  But the bottom line for Harriet  is that she wasn't reared with this animal. They were a mile apart.  They didn't share the same feed, they didn't share the same grass.  There's an age difference between them so they weren't of the same age so she isn't fitting into the category that they say.
CL: And Dave, what do you think your chances are, realistically, of saving Harriet?
Dave: Well I can't really answer that but we are confident that with Mark Harper's help..our local MP, yes.. that we can fight on and save Harriet.
CL: Would you go to Court over it, or not?
Dave: Well, that would be the next step and we'll certainly think seriously about that, yes.
CL:  And she's been valued for slaughter  - which is a sad thing  - and valued at 1049 pounds, I read.  She's worth much more than that I suppose to you?
Liz:  She's priceless.  She's a pet.  You don't put a value on your pets.  To us she's like a cat or a dog.  She means a lot to our family and all our friends and people in the village go past her every day and talk to her.  She's quite a celebrity around the lanes.  You can't put a value on something that gives you that much pleasure.
 
CL: Liz and David, thank you - and Harriet earlier.  Back to you, Eddie.
Eddie Mair:  Chris, thanks for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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