Letter in Craven Herald 10 Aug 2001

Farmers were already millionaires

SIR - The recent publicity about foot and mouth compensation to individual farmers is deeply hurtful.

Foot and mouth did not make us millionaires. We were already millionaires through our own efforts long before this dreadful foot and mouth debacle.

Living quietly and unobtrusively, investing in and breeding some of the world's finest livestock rather than having cash in the bank, was our choice. It was certainly not our choice to have those healthy animals stolen and murdered before our eyes.

Theft and murder are emotional words to use, but that is how it felt.

As subjects of Her Majesty's Government, we were forced to comply. If we resisted, the presence of the army in full combat gear made sure we complied. The government certainly did not need to continue the needless and mindless killing, but by deliberate policy, it chose to do so. To now complain about the cost of its deliberate actions is hypocrisy in the extreme.

In addition to the senseless killing, we had to endure the isolation caused by army roadblocks preventing us from leaving our homes, and the sight of army helicopters flying low to scour the countryside for anything left alive. We truly were peaceful citizens caught up in the middle of a war zone. The trauma will live with us forever.

The fact that many of my animals were nearly three miles from the outbreak and were murdered, whilst animals about 250 yards from the outbreak are still alive, is not an accident of geography, but an act of supreme folly by a completely misguided and badly advised Government.

It is public knowledge that I paid 120,000 dollars (#54,699 at todays exchange rate) for what was then regarded as the finest cow in Canada, and brought her here to Gargrave. The Government murdered her perfectly healthy daughters. No amount of money can ever replace them and their herd mates.

At a sale of my stock in July 2000, cattle were sold to 26 different counties including every county in Northern Ireland. They would have been sold all over Europe if the previous Government had not made such a hash of the BSE affair and ruined our export market. To say that the daughters of these animals are not extremely valuable is an insult.

To restock 1,000 acres of prime Craven lowland grassland with quality livestock will require at least a million pounds. However, as the Government has needlessly killed one in ten of all the farm animals in the UK, prices are likely to be much higher than before the foot and mouth debacle.

The outbreak of foot and mouth disease on a farm in Northumberland was unfortunate, but with quick action should have been confinable.

It has now been proved that the actions, or should I say inactions, of MAFF allowed the disease to spread rapidly in its early days. Government officials were undoubtedly incompetent. The contiguous cull policy is simply madness.

The "blame it on the rich farmers" spin released by Government press officers is despicable. If this is an example of Her Majesty's good government, of whatever political persuasion, then God help us all!

Philip A Green,

Little Stainton, Gargrave.

Maybe now we can drop the subject & get on with trying to stop the slaughter. Phil