JOINT REPRESENTATION FROM

VARIOUS CONCERNED GROUPS WHO ATTENDED THE BUILTH WELLS MEETING  INCLUDING THE NATIONAL FOOT AND MOUTH GROUP, UNITY, EPYNT ACTION GROUP, GRAZIERS & LOCAL BUSINESSES

 

 

 

15 July 2001

 

 

Mr Carwyn Jones AM

National Assembly for Wales

Cathays Park

Cardiff CF10 3NQ

 

 

Dear Minister

 

RE: FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE - BRECON BEACONS & THE WELSH UPLANDS

 

We have been asked to write to you following a meeting held in Builth Wells on Wednesday evening, 11 July, at the Montgomery Pavillion, Royal Welsh Show Ground.

 

The meeting was attended by over 200 people. Those present represented not only farming interests, but tourism, marketing, and the wider rural economy that have been, and are still, affected by the FMD epidemic in Cymru.

 

As you are aware, the situation in the Brecon Beacons and the Welsh Uplands regarding FMD and the Cynefin flocks is a major and serious concern. If the disease appears in these flocks; the resultant slaughter of infected hefts and a far ranging contiguous cull of other hefts, will remove flocks from many areas of the commons. The consequences for the land and its people could be catastrophic. The hill farmers of Wales are a vital part of our culture and heritage. In turn they underpin and support many industries and much of the rural economy.

 

At the meeting Dr Ruth Watkins put forward proposals for the application of a limited vaccination scheme to control and eradicate FMD from the Cynefin sheep. The meeting also heard from Brian Haigh, General Merchandising Manager for ASDA/Wal/mart, Paddy Rooney - CLA, Glyn Powell, representing the Farmers Union of Wales , Terry Bayliss  Farmers Ferry / Farmers Fresh, and Ashford Price reporting on the impact on tourism.

 

In addition, Brian Haighs associates were also in attendance to answer questions; Elwyn Pugh  Sales Director of Welsh Country Foods, Jose Parela  MD of Welsh Country Foods, Andy Tweddle  General Sales Manager of Dawn Meats, Darren Jones  ASDA Sales Manager of ABP Group and Bob White  Procurement Director of ABP Group

 

Bob Parry (FUW) and Huw Richards (NFUCymru) were also invited, and the date was changed for their purpose, but unfortunately they did not attend. There is growing concern and frustration that the Farming Unions are unwilling or unable to give fair and due consideration to these proposals. The grass-roots feelings of the members of the unions present at the meeting was that these proposals, as an approach to controlling and eradicating the disease, should be fully explored and evaluated.

 

After questions and debate those present endorsed a proposal that a meeting should be requested with you, and your advisers, to discuss and consider the limited vaccination scheme proposed by Dr Watkins. The meeting would provide the opportunity to explain the reasoning and justification of the scheme and to put forward the context and background of the special circumstances regarding the Cynefin flocks.

 

The purpose of this letter is to request this meeting at your earliest convenience, particularly as the summer recess will soon be upon us.

 

Furthermore, Dr Watkins proposal, together with an accompanying report on the control and eradication of FMD in the Cynefin sheep, is due to be submitted to the EU within the next few days and it may be helpful for you to be appraised of its contents and purpose.

 

The over-riding concerns that were expressed at the meeting were:

 

1 How long will it be before normality returns? The situation for farmers, tourism and the wider rural economy is desperate?

 

2 After the last outbreak (whenever that may be) how long will it take to carry out all the tests and procedures that the EU will demand to restore disease free status?

 

3 Realistically, how long will it be before exports can be resumed? - We need a firm date and a defined timescale?.

 

4 What will happen if tests on the Cynefin flocks finds live virus (as opposed to antibodies)? How many sheep and flocks will have to be slaughtered?

 

5 What will happen to the autumn sheep sales if we are not clear of the disease by then?

 

It is in the context of these concerns that we wish to put forward for your consideration the proposal for a limited vaccination scheme.

 

We hope we can look forward to an early response to this letter.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Signed by

 

Edwin Roderick - Chair of Epynt Action Group / Grazier

Phil Owens  Unity & Chair of Montgomery FUW

Janet Bayley - Cttee Member National Foot & Mouth Group

Ruth Watkins - Virologist and Sheep Farmer

Edwin Harris  Farmer

Ashford Price - Chairman Dan-Yr-Ogof - The National Showcaves Centre For Wales

 

 

Contacts and Tel Nos:

 

Edwin Roderick  01874 636495

Janet Bayley - 01285 644319 email: janbayley@cs.com

Phil Owens - 01938 580179 email: phil@lletygynfach.farmcon.net