This week has been the anniversary of the launch of the Forest of Dean Action Group

farm gate protests, (Sat and Monday) and today, Thursday, was the anniversary of the public meeting where the Divisional Vet Manager for Gloucestershire agreed to halt the contiguous cull and for the Forest of Dean FMD Action to lobby the Government to agree to blood test all the remaining animals.

A very big thank you must be said to Carole Youngs and Siobhan Spivack for having the courage and initiative to set up the Forest of Dean FMD Action Group. They put in train a terrific movement to push for vaccination and an accountable, responsible approach to dealing with the catastrophic epidemic. (warmwell addition: since this message comes from Janet Bayley, she does not include herself in this thank you. But all who read this website will know just what a tremendous force to be reckoned with Janet Bayley has been - and continues to be.)

At the time I did not know of Warmwell (how awful) but here are 2 press releases that you might like to put in historical context and put up to thank Carole and Siobhan for the stance they took and for making it possible for so many to make a stand and stop, at least in the Forest of Dean, the terrible atrocities that had been carried out as "disease control."

We now know only 13 cases in Gloucestershire tested positive in laboratory testing out of 72 Infected Premises - and that 346 farms were culled out. Perhaps you could make it clear that the Ministry were still carrying out Contiguous Culls 3 to 5 weeks after the free roaming sheep (ie the source of infection) had been slaughtered - so it was a reasonable action to protest when animals were obviously showing no signs of the disease.

From the archives of....

FOREST OF DEAN FOOT AND MOUTH ACTION GROUP

MAFF was forced to abandon two culls of healthy flocks of sheep yesterday when supporters of the newly formed Forest of Dean Action Group protested that the farmers had a right of appeal against the culling order of their healthy animals.

Supporters of the Group were shocked at the threatening and intimidating action of Dr Allen, the ministry vet, when he arrived to deal with the sheep and lambs of Shaun Saunders of The Pludds near Lydney. Dr Allen at first refused to let anyone speak on behalf of Mr Saunders, who had appealed against the culling order from MAFF. Mr Saunders said "I am so grateful that the Group were here to put my case because I find all this legal wording and the process so difficult to understand". Eventually Dr Allen did allow a member of the group to put Mr Saunders case; that he was entitled to have his animals tested before being culled. But Dr Allen would not agree that Mr Saunders had a right of appeal and insisted that the animals would only be tested after they were culled.

The Group drew Dr Allen's attention to Schedule 3 of the Animal Health Act, and said that they understood that MAFF "had to give clear veterinary reasons" why they considered Mr Saunders healthy stock "to have been exposed to an infected animal", and that his stock should not be culled until he had been provided with a "full written reasonable and acceptable statement" from MAFF. The ministry vet would not accept this and would not confirm that Mr Saunders had a right of appeal.

Local resident, Mark Harper, who is the Conservative PPC, also spoke to Dr Allen and said that it was reasonable for Mr Saunders to have an explanation

of the procedures and his rights. Later Mr Harper spoke at length to David Parker, the Divisional Vet Officer at Glos MAFF office, who confirmed that there is no veterinary reason why the animals cannot be tested before slaughter.

The Group, formed only on Friday, have come together because they have been appalled at the killing of thousands of healthy animals. Their aim is to make sure farmers with healthy animals are not intimidated or bounced into the culling of their stock until their appeals have been determined. Carole Youngs, a founder of the group said "People feel very isolated and vulnerable and uncertain what their rights are. MAFF are not letting people know what the procedures are or what the correct process is. People round here with sheep, lambs and cattle are unsure what they can do to prevent their healthy animals being killed and they do not know who they can turn to for advice."

Martin Lusmore, a member of the Group said "Having witnessed how MAFF dealt with Mr Saunders' case it is most important that vulnerable farmers, who are having difficulty understanding their rights and what the legal position is, do not feel that they are alone. The Group is here to act as witness and help them put the right questions to MAFF."

UPDATE - Action Group attending at Gordon Brown's farm at Trinity Road, Harrow Hill, Nailbridge - Forest of Dean on Monday 23.04.2001 MAFF expected mid morning.

BACKGROUND

Maff is planning to cull 1,600 sheep on 35 small holdings in Forest of Dean.

14 Farms have contacted the action group for information on their legal rights since the action group was formed on Friday. Many of these were farms that had been contacted by MAFF with an A notice, advising them of the planned culls.

CONTACTS
Forest of Dean Foot and Mouth Action Group
Janet Bayley, press and media contact 01285-656812
Carole Youngs, Founder 07774-958147
Mark Harper contact 01594 544255
Farmers Helpline 01594 564656

VIDEO MATERIAL

Beta footage of MAFF official visiting a farm, illustrating much of the material above available from Roy Pell 01594-860243

FILMING OPPORTUNITIES

Farmers have been in contact with the group when they are notified of the time when MAFF are arriving to take their sheep, and the group mobilises as many people as possible to support the farmer.

FOREST OF DEAN FOOT & MOUTH ACTION GROUP

PRESS RELEASE - Glos Chief Vet Backs Action Group

Date 27 April 2001

Over 350 people packed Drybrook Village Hall yesterday evening to hear Gloucestershire's Chief Vet address anxious local farmers and the public. Many stood for 2 > hours to hear at first hand what MAFF's intentions were following Minister Nick Brown's statement and to tell the MAFF vet, directly, how their lives had been shattered by the epidemic and the surrounding confusion.

This was the first time that any of the farmers, small holders and all those concerned have had an opportunity to meet the Ministry and discuss the tragedy that has struck at the heart of the Forest community. The Group are extremely grateful to Mr Parker for attending and explaining, listening and responding to the overwhelming sense of unease of the local people.

By the end of the meeting Mr Parker had agreed to :

Halt the killing for 48 hours to allow farmers and the community to lobby the government to petition for the testing of all animals for the disease before the decision to cull is taken.

Mr Parker revealed that he had asked to be allowed to use blood tests to restore the confidence of the community in the way MAFF was dealing the situation, and in particular, the slaughter on suspicion policy. But he was told that it was against the law. Everyone in the hall was extremely grateful that Mr Parker actually went as far as to say that, if it was up to him, he would be more than happy for farmers to have all animals tested before slaughter - but that was not MAFF's policy. He stopped short of saying that he disagreed with MAFF - but no one was left in any doubt that, if it was his decision, he would like to be able to take that course of action.

Unanimous support was given to a vote to petition MAFF and the Government to allow for blood testing of all the animals on the remaining 26 farms now facing slaughter under suspicion

Another vote at the meeting on the use of vaccination, as an integral part of the dealing with the disease, had overwhelming support. And again, there was another revelation, when Henry Boughton the County Vice Chairman of the NFU, honestly said that he felt he didn't know enough about vaccination and that it needed to be looked at in much closer detail.

The Group was also able to announce that Burges Salmon solicitors have been instructed to prepare a briefing paper for farmers on the relevant provisions of the Animal Health Act and Foot and Mouth Diseases Order. The briefing note will be freely available to all who need it. It will be obtainable on the Helpline number 01594 564656.

The meeting was a great success. It brought together a huge pool of knowledge, expertise, and experience. The Group is now turning its attention to London to lobby MAFF and Tony Blair to intervene to recognise the special nature of the Forest of Dean and its community.

Contact : Janet Bayley 01285 644319 or 656812
Carole Youngs on 01594 564600 or mobile 07774 958147

See also - Western Daily Press - Severnside - 26 April - Front Page