'For evil to triumph all that is required is that good men do nothing'
2 - Howpark Farm Cottages - Grantshouse - Duns - Berwickshire - TD11 3RP
24th May 2001
Farmtalking.com was started more by accident than design. When FMD was formally announced in February, the area I live in, was soon restricted by a 'D' notice. Farmtalking.com was launched on-line on March 10th as a point of contact and information for my isolated friends in the area. The addition of a shared message board, already displayed on Peter Kindersley's Sheepdrove web site, increased the visitors to Farmtalking.com enormously. The necessity for a Help-Line became obvious and my telephone numbers were displayed. Sound Legal Advice was obtained and working in close co-operation with John Gouriet, (chairman of Freedom in Action), and the Solicitors, Burges-Salmon, information concerning the Legal rights of both the MAFF and Farmers was published on Farmtalking.com and made available to those that requested it.
Since those early days, always hoping that as the Government stated, the situation was becoming 'controlled', my telephone lines have become more frequently engaged. More information based on sound science concerning FMD has become available and published. Attempts to challenge the Government's Policy through the Courts have been made. Many articles have been written and published, highlighting the problems associated with FMD and many millions of innocent healthy animals have been slaughtered.
More established web sites have dedicated some of their pages to this tragedy and new sites have been born on-line to highlight the problems. Various groups of people have gathered from all over the Country, to support beleaguered farmers in their efforts to save their livestock.
Some weeks ago, in conversation with a friend, it was suggested by him that some form of organization similar to the French farmer's 'Co-ordination Rurale' should be formed to ensure that those living and working in the countryside would have a truly representative voice. That would ensure our Government took their views into account and acted on them. It was suggested to me at the time, that Farmtalking.com might become the Internet representative of such an organization. I was impressed by the suggestion and consider it an excellent idea. I understand that plans are going ahead for the formation of such an organization of Rural Co-ordination. Weather Farmtalking.com (as a domain name), should be used as it's Internet representative or the services absorbed to become a part of the organization, is immaterial at this stage.
Meanwhile, many friends continue to give me support in different ways, including donations towards the cost of my telephones, for which I am extremely grateful.
Others have visited me to take phone calls and allow me a short break, ensuring my phones are always manned. Arrangements have also been made to allow call diversion for the same reason.
I welcome the advent of new web sites devoted to the FMD crisis, the formation of support groups around the country and the valuable work they do.
They are working in different areas and differing circumstances, commensurate with the variety of farming techniques essential in our varied landscape.
Recently I have been approached by volunteers eager to co-ordinate this work on a National basis. They have suggested that they promote the services offered by Farmtalking.com, across the country.
Of course, as with any web site, Farmtalking.com is not only National but International, as it is part of the Internet. As more people recognize the name and visit the site from all over the world, they become aware of the situation and developments concerning FMD in the U.K. The need for the continuation of the Help-Lines in the U.K. is also becoming more important. Not only as new outbreaks appear to be diagnosed, but to assist in the recovery from this disaster. I, and my friends, will continue to endeavor to keep the Farmtalking lines open for as long as they are needed.
I have recently also been approached by representatives of another Group who propose setting up a call center for a similar purpose. I am sure more help lines are needed and am equally certain they will ensure that the correct advice is given for each circumstance.
Nevertheless, I do have reservations concerning the use of a call center. However well prepared the information available to the operatives, it may not be good enough. It should not be imagined that the only calls likely to be received are from farmers desperate to know their Legal rights and to avoid the loss of their livestock.
In my experience, the queries received are many and varied encompassing, the law, movement restrictions and orders, welfare both animals and human, feed supplies, bio-security, environmental, financial, medical, veterinary, government and many more subjects that crop up. I by no means know it all, but a fairly comprehensive knowledge of farming and the ability to trace the correct information quickly, is essential. I am minded of the fact that the MAFF operate a call center which I am told, recently received a query concerning the feeding of hay, They caller was told, 'It will be alright so long as you soak it in disinfectant first'! The same call center's supervisor also informed me that our meat exports amounted to #10 billion a year! Wrong on both counts!
Whatever is decided, as the best way to help, by those who are willing to give their time and energy so generously, I would like to wish them every success.
I hope that we can all continue to work together in our different ways in the firm belief that "a problem shared is a problem solved!"
Jane Barribal - Farmtalking.com