(Worth printing out and reading carefully)

Letters from the public to the Craven Herald June 29th 2001

Anger grows at slaughter policy 1.Left hand and Right hand...within three kilometres (what's happened to miles)?

2.Is this the same mass slaughter which was denied...?

staying in the most expensive hotel in Skipton

3.standing up to the army's police-state tactics

4.officials have walked roughshod over the wishes of farmers

5.Inflexible EU regulations, an intransigent MAFF, and a profit driven industry dominated by the larger factory farms, the live export trade, unwise and unnecessary foreign meat imports, supermarket monopoly tariffs and an irrational farm subsidy system have combined to produce a national disaster.

6.yes, animals can smell death and fear.

7.disgusted at the absence of coverage given to the continuing agricultural holocaust taking place

8.I have witnessed scenes which have made me ashamed to be a human being.

9.horrendous job to do

10.The protestors appear to have only limited support from the local farming community and culling seems to be working.(sic) 11.

I think it's about time we were told the truth.

12.what have our illustrious leaders accomplished in the last 30 years? The closure of most abattoirs and pig farming, the destruction of our fishing fleets, the Merchant Navy, shipyards, coal mines, steel, cotton, wool, British Leyland, aircraft and space industries, railways, the army, navy and airforce, grammar schools and the National Health Service.

It only remains to destroy the greatest financial centre of the world, the city of London, and transfer it to Frankfurt or the EU and our failed political leaders will be rewarded with very important positions for life.

13.Mass cull is reality

14.


Anger grows at slaughter policy

SIR - I see that MAFF, now part of DEFRA, has been forced to stop farmers claiming compensation for foot and mouth disease being required to abide by the provisions of the Official Secrets Acts.

Since the destruction of livestock has nothing whatever to do with national security, it is obvious that MAFF's demand had a more unsavoury basis in trying to stop discussion of the points arising from their disastrous policies including:

o The legality and humanity of the slaughter of millions of uninfected animals.

o The legality of its closures of public roads.

o The effectiveness of the primitive culling policy: six million animals dead so far and no end in sight to the spread of the outbreak.

o The reason why no proper research was carried out by or on behalf of MAFF since the 1960s outbreak and why the report on that outbreak was ignored. As yet MAFF cannot confirm whether the virus is transmitted by contact or by air.

o The alleged brutality of some of the culling and the suppression of evidence and witnesses relating to this.

o The improper bullying and hectoring tactics of MAFF, its henchmen under curtain of the army. It seems even your reporters have been subjected to this.

o The strange silence of the media relating to the current outbreaks. Even the recent two day closure of the A65 - mainly for the purpose of killing uninfected cattle - was reported on the BBC traffic reports as due to an `incident'.

o A balanced and unbiased assessment of the economic effects of the culling policy. Preserving (alleged) gross exports of #1bn a year - roughly the same value of the imports of the same nature - is no justification for what has been done and is being done.

o An assessment of the long term financial, structural and psychological effects of MAFF's policy which has turned misery into calamity.

o Why MAFF has been allowed to get away with these policies for so long. The only beneficiaries of which seem to be MAFF, its employees and contractors.

R F Tarling,

Old Hall Croft, Gargrave.

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SIR - I am sure that all those who have suffered from foot and mouth in the Craven and Ribblesdale areas, and with whom we have the greatest possible sympathy, will not be surprised to hear of the following chain of events.

On May 20 the MP for Penrith and the Border, David MacLean wrote to the chief veterinary officer about the holding of the Armathwaite Hall Horse Trials and County Fair, which was scheduled for July 20 to 22.

On May 31 the divisional veterinary manager wrote to the Armathwaite Hall owner saying that "it has been agreed that this event can go ahead subject to the precautionary measures for the staging of the equestrian events being taken."

Naturally all understood that if there were to be outbreaks within three kilometres (what's happened to miles) then cancellation would be inevitable, but this has not occurred.

On June 7, 18 days after he had received the original letter, the chief veterinary officer, Jim Scudamore, sent a reply by fax completely contradicting the letter of May 31 and saying that "the risk assessment recommends that no equestrian event can be held on agricultural land in an infected area."

To add to the confusion the Daily Mail, having presumably contacted the tourist board, included an announcement in its edition of June 16 stating that the Armathwaite Hall event was definitely on. How can we have confidence in MAFF, now named DEFRA the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (note no mention of agriculture)? This department is already nicknamed the Destruction of English Farming Regulatory Agency. The right hand does not seem to know what the left hand is doing and in the meantime British agriculture is the loser.

As regards the new Minister Margaret Beckett she has no knowledge whatsoever of the countryside. Kate Hoey, a farmer's daughter from Ireland, whose only sins were to fall foul of the administrators of the great god football and to support hunting, would have made a much better minister, even though most of her actions would have been dictated by Brussels.

John D Clark

Carr Head Lane, Cross Hills

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Is this the same mass slaughter which was denied...?

SIR - On Tuesday June 19 on Look North, during the coverage of the appeal by the farmer in Cracoe who is next to an infected premises, MAFF stated that "though distressing, mass slaughter is the only way of controlling foot and mouth!"

Is this the same mass slaughter which was denied before the election on television, in the Craven Herald, Farmers Guardian, Yorkshire Post etc?

If MAFF are going to issue any statements they really should check the continuity of them, or we might just begin to suspect them of telling `porkies'!

Ann Gallagher,

Bell Busk, Skipton. TOP

SIR - Today I left Carleton to get away from the horror of more healthy animals being slaughtered along the Heslaker Lane.

On my return I passed a sign on the A59 asking people to stay on the main roads, due to being in a foot and mouth restricted area, and find that the "Mafia" - far more fitting for them than MAFF - had been sending the slaughtered animals out through the village, past clean farms with healthy animals, instead of the other way out which leads on to the A59.

Would someone give the reason for this decision?

I suppose staying in the most expensive hotel in Skipton makes them, and army personnel, in no hurry to move on. After all the healthy stock have gone, what next? Perhaps we should lock up our pets!

Betty Cowman.

Leys Close, Carleton.

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SIR - Firstly I would like to praise David Calvert and other farmers who are standing up to the army's police-state tactics, and also the Craven Herald staff for exercising their legal rights.

Many farmers have been bluffed and conned into doing or allowing things to be done that they need not have succumbed to. This is mainly lack of knowing their legal rights.

The people of this area are shocked and sad for the farming community and wish them well, whether they are in mourning for the loss of their animals or wondering when it will all be over and how they are going to restock. God be with them.

Geoff Jenkins,

Essex Street, Barnoldswick

TOP

SIR - To walk, or not to walk, that is the question. I have been allowing my thoughts to wander amongst this vexed question and it seems to me that on top of having livestock officially removed, officials have walked roughshod over the wishes of farmers in Cumbria and Devon, regarding the re-opening of footpaths.

Although foot and mouth disease has been a savage blow to tourism, it is by no means the only industry other than farming to be affected and should not be used by politicians and the media to drive a wedge between it and the farming industry.

There is much inter-dependence between allied industries in rural communities and in reality, tourism will be the first to make a recovery once the disease is under control.

It will be at least eighteen months after farmers are allowed to re-stock before they can hope to turn around their fortunes. Not until farmers have built up their flocks and herds somewhat can allied industries, e.g. feed merchants, veterinary surgeons, large machinery suppliers, livestock hauliers, sundry equipment suppliers, the services of auctions and of specialist contractors begin to make a comeback.

Tourism may account for a large sector of the economy, but is overplayed in appealing to the masses. The only way forward is to get to grips with containment, rather than some in authority blaming farmers for lack of diligence, only to encourage greater access to the countryside by other sections of the community.

Footpaths over farm land should remain closed until the outbreak has been stamped out, to protect surviving livestock, to keep clean land where there have been contact culls and, most importantly, to allow for the thorough de-toxification of infected premises.

As a footnote - Thank you for the excellent supplement, "Great Days Out". Within it is a wealth of information for tourists who can still find a great deal to do in the dales.

Mrs K Robinson,

Midland Terrace, Hellifield

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TOP

SIR - Inflexible EU regulations, an intransigent MAFF, and a profit driven industry dominated by the larger factory farms, the live export trade, unwise and unnecessary foreign meat imports, supermarket monopoly tariffs and an irrational farm subsidy system have combined to produce a national disaster.

May I suggest that had we outlawed long distance transport of live animals, had we retained a local abbatoir system, had we placed a higher value on animal husbandry and welfare, and had small farmers been given more realistic financial support, guidance and encouragement to go organic and/or diversify over recent years, the spread of foot and mouth would have been far more limited and easier to control.

Why did MAFF not seek advice in the first place from European and American experts skilled in FMD outbreak management by segregation, bio-security and vaccination?

Most crucial of all, Hillside Animal Sanctuary's concern over the pig farm conditions at Heddon-on-the-Wall, where the first outbreak occurred, was not taken seriously.

When first reported, had this been properly investigated, the foot and mouth infection would have been discovered much earlier and the entire outbreak stopped at source.

Hillside correctly earmarked the pigswill as suspect and the conditions on the farm were described by them as appalling.

It was unfortunate that this animal welfare organisation's appraisal of the situation was not taken up properly and acted upon.

Mrs Laura Palmeri,

Bank End, Ingleton.

TOP

SIR - Like Shirley Stocks from Barnoldswick writing in last weeks letters page, I too am disgusted at the absence of coverage given to the continuing agricultural holocaust taking place yards away from our front door steps.

Over the last two weeks I have rung both the BBC and ITV to request more coverage of foot and mouth. Just a waste of my breath and the cost of the phone calls. Also, I am stunned when talking to friends or relatives living in urban areas with their disinterested reactions.

It puts me in mind of Rhett Butler's closing line from the film `Gone with the Wind'. Quite frankly my dear Shirley, `they' don't give a damn. But they will when it starts affecting their till receipts!

Wendy Milner,

Church Street, Gargrave.

TOP

SIR - I have never felt compelled to compose a letter to a newspaper before, but this week I have witnessed scenes which have made me ashamed to be a human being.

As a farmer's daughter, I grew up accepting that farm animals were not pets and experienced the joys and sadnesses associated with the rearing and caring for animals destined for food production.

Twenty-five years on, I have no direct connection with the agricultural industry, but live in an idyllic country location.

This week that changed abruptly, with the arrival of the sinister circus. I refer of course to foot and mouth disease and the whole associated sequence of events that we are all unfortunately too well aware of. Nothing could have prepared me for the horror I experienced in witnessing, on my doorstep the ghostly figures, the army landrovers, the sound of gunshots, in the stillness of the June evening, the carnage, the covered lorries and then the silence and the empty fields.

Then the circus will move on, to begin the whole deadly process in another location and summer 2001 continues without the picture postcard images which we all take for granted.

We hear so much about the plight of the farmers, the rural economy, the tourist industry but little indeed about the treatment of the animals. This crisis was caused by man is being "managed" by man and witnessed by the rest of us.

There are lessons to be learned about the way we care for our animals. Ultimately they are a part of our food chain but during their all too short lives, they warrant proper care to keep them comfortable and free from disease.

We hear many examples of ruthless and evil people, in all aspects of society, often in senior or supervisory positions, who if found guilty of misconduct will never be allowed to work in that field again. This must surely be applied to our agricultural industry, changes must be made to prevent cruelty or incompetence or ignorance causing the kind of scenes which many of us have witnessed at first hand recently.

We must all accept our responsibility as we all have a role to play in preventing animal cruelty. The day of reckoning will come for us all.

Margaret Wooler,

The Grange, Carleton. TOP

Public outrage

SIR - I have read with interest the growing concern at the destruction of farm animals in the country, and particularly the Yorkshire Dales, over the past few weeks.

It is good to see that the public are actually questioning the awful destruction of animals and farming life. My feelings go out to the farmers and businesses who are also suffering dreadfully.

However, in this outrage at the killing of cows, sheep and their young, what does the public think normally happens to these animals? Grazing in fields in the sunshine until the end of their natural days?

The reality is, that animals are crammed into transporters and taken (often hundreds of miles) to slaughter houses ready for the statutory bullet in the head. And yes, animals can smell death and fear.

Having long been against the use of animals as a commodity, contributed to by the current export and import trade (farming being traditionally to provide for it's immediate community it is bazaar that we export to feed perhaps people in New Zealand whilst we import from New Zealand to feed us!) the current crises has brought into public vision the realities of the meat trade - no longer hidden behind the doors of the abattoirs, we are being forced to face the reality of a trade that we, as consumers, actively support.

It has been estimated that the numbers of stock killed in the culling is far less than those killed on a day to day basis for meat.

I am not a meat eater but obviously respect other people's wishes as to what they have as their diet and can only look at this situation from the a point of objectivity and consider what is best for the animals. And the conclusion I have come to is that at least the animals have not faced the trauma of transport to the slaughterhouse and have faced a relatively peaceful ending.

Mrs T Harrison

Brackenbottom, Settle. TOP

Professional and caring

SIR - We felt we just had to write to you after all the bad publicity the slaughter teams have been getting in the press.

We want to say that last Thursday our entire stock was taken out as a contiguous case.

At such an horrendous time, everyone involved who came to our farm to do such a difficult job on both the Tuesday and Wednesday treated both ourselves and our animals with the utmost care and consideration.

They have the most horrendous job to do in such difficult circumstances but on our farm they could not have been more professional and caring.

John and Janet Greenwood,

Lower Scarcliffe Farm,

Carleton.

TOP

Blair witch project

SIR - Some folk have taken leave of their senses due to foot and mouth.

Tony Blair and/or Europe are spreading the disease. Oh really?

In the Middle Ages the plague was blamed on witches. Today's protestors believe in witches in Whitehall and Beelzebubs in Brussels.

Having no connection with farming, I have listened dispassionately to the arguments. A small number of experts believe vaccination is the best way to tackle foot and mouth. The large majority believe culling is better.

The protestors appear to have only limited support from the local farming community and culling seems to be working. Single cases in Middleton (Ilkley) and near Ripon have been contained but the problem with the Craven outbreaks is the fact that the disease was undetected for weeks, rampaging across the moor.

Many animals have been slaughtered but the fact is that this outbreak is nothing like as widespread as it was a couple of months ago.

S Dobson,

Keighley Road, Skipton.

TOP

Profound suspicion

SIR - I have watched with great sadness and an increasing sense of anger as the government "hit squads" have systematically emptied the surrounding fields of their stock.

Although my wife and I are not farmers we have strong farming connections which makes us feel the despair even more acutely. I am sure that I am not alone in feeling a profound sense of a suspicion that we the public are being kept in the dark about the real situation as regards to foot and mouth disease and that there is a sinister motive.

Noel Edmonds gave an impassioned plea on behalf of the hard hit folk of Devon .What I would like to see is a similar high profile figure making his voice heard with regards to our own area.

Could the explanation simply be that like the fishermen our farmers are being sacrificed on the high alter of the European Union.

I think it's about time we were told the truth.

Roy Redfearn,

Stoney Bank Road, Earby.

TOP

Mixed messages

SIR - We are told that the electorate voted with their feet and stayed away from the polling stations in unprecedented proportions for recent times.

I find this unsurprising, since informed debate in the public arena is the cornerstone of grassroots democracy.

Using the ongoing catastrophe of foot and mouth as an example of the lack of background information and mixed messages given to the public it is hardly surprising that articulate, intelligent adults are left feeling disempowered and disenfranchised.

Those who now find themselves in political power both locally and nationally may find themselves with an unexploded time bomb of public opinion. I wonder if they can rise to the challenge.

Pam Colley,

Garden Terrace, Carleton.

Something wrong

TOP

SIR - There is something wrong when people are prohibited from telling the truth about the foot and mouth disaster.

If this is a free society, people must know the truth; anything else reinforces the belief that our leaders are liars not to be trusted.

There is a belief that it was started deliberately, that it is a new virus, that there was no vaccine for it, that wagons were left standing loaded at Hawes for two weeks stinking, that stock is catching it from drinking river water, that wagons travelling the length and breadth of England with these cattle are spreading it, that the wagons leak contaminated fluid from the rear, that in cows the skin drops off their mouths, holes appear in their tongues and teeth fall out within hours of catching it, that the slaughter will go up Wharfedale then Swaledale with accommodation already booked as far as Scarborough, that all this is to stop the farmers receiving EU subsidy and create a market for French lamb and German beef, that there are now hundreds of square miles in all the national parks without sheep and cattle, that thousands of farms have seen stock destroyed that did not have it, and that the Lake District was opened deliberately to take the disease there next.

If the virus is water-borne why were farmers not told to move then from the rivers?

Sadly we must ask the question, what have our illustrious leaders accomplished in the last 30 years? The closure of most abattoirs and pig farming, the destruction of our fishing fleets, the Merchant Navy, shipyards, coal mines, steel, cotton, wool, British Leyland, aircraft and space industries, railways, the army, navy and airforce, grammar schools and the National Health Service.

It only remains to destroy the greatest financial centre of the world, the city of London, and transfer it to Frankfurt or the EU and our failed political leaders will be rewarded with very important positions for life.

Norman Simpson,

Calton Lodge, Airton. TOP

Mass cull is reality

SIR - This government went to great lengths before and after the election to assure us that there would be no mass cull of cattle after the election and that everything was/is under control.

In this area a mass cull is being carried out, I personally have seen the men from the Ministry along with an increase in army personnel, destroying cattle in Gargrave, East and West Marton, Skipton, Cracoe and Cononley. Every day I drive past roads that are blocked off to allow the men to do their work and with no end to it in sight.

Now I read that this government is trying to gag the farmers by getting them to sign the Official Secrets Act. What in God's name for? What or where is the threat to our national security from this outbreak of foot and mouth or are we not being told the truth about what it is or what the dangers are, we need to know.

Is it connected to the outbreak of CJD for instance, is it a way of getting rid of CJD infected livestock? What happens to the slurry waste that is being taken from the farm in tanker lorries, where is it being dumped?

There are lots of other and unasked and unanswered questions. Without knowledge people surmise about things, rumours start and then before we know it - panic stations.

What is the government trying to hide that they have to use such a weapon as the Secrets Act? We were told the Blair administration was going to be an open one, one that would be in tune with the people, so where is it?

We elect representatives of our people to govern, guide and protect us so where are these MPs,why don't we hear them speak up for us?

John Purdie,

Hurrs Road, Skipton. TOP