...the Dutch are very concerned and it seems many farmers and vets have joined forces to put pressure on their Government and the EU.

The picture here in Germany is somewhat different. We had a handful of SOS cases, which (officially)turned out to be negative. I live in a region close to the Belgium/Holland border and the nearest confirmed case was just 50 miles away. As our cattle has been vaccinated untill 1991 there was not a lot of discussions, all of the farmers in our region were strongly in favour of immediate protective vaccination. Even the German NFU was in favour, well knowing that politicans and the export industry were opposing the plans. It was just to keep the farmers quiet.

Vets are another different thing. The ones dealing with farmers and their animals would like to see a vaccination programme commence in regions most at risk. But the Government vets, under pressure from the Ministry and the exporters were, during the first two month of the outbreak, against vaccination. When all the pictures of burning carcasses came up on TV and little lambs were shown starving it was the first time our public realized what was going on. A lot of pressure was put on the Government by animal rights activists, different breeders associations and the general public so the Ministry vets seemed to think about a change of the current policy.

We will have to see what their contribution to the Conference will be as I tried very hard to get a copy of the memorandum they will bring forward next week. I usually have quite a lot of good contacts but this time I tried in vain.

I have a very long experience in dealing with the authorities as in 1996 they issued a slaughter notice on five of my cows because they had been imported from the UK (They wanted to protect Germany from BSE!). This happened to all breeders with UK or Swiss cattle and we joined then in taking legal action against the Government. I can imagine what farmers in the UK had been through as we experienced the same attitude, blackmailing, pressure, visits by officials, movement restrictions etc. and we just managed to stop them after a High court decision which said that the government acted illegally.

We went over the last four years through lots of court hearings as everyone who wanted to save the live of his/her cattle had to go to the local court first and then to the regional court untill one eventually reaches the High Court at Berlin. We won every single case but they never backed down until Berlin.

It's an abuse of power and we have learnt over the years never to trust politicians and civil servants.

You see, it's the same in every country, it seems someone is looking for a way to get rid of all these awful people with the green wellies.