FOOT AND MOUTH

Although in North Cumbria the slaughter of infected and contiguous animals has been slow in the past, MAFF is acting fast [within 24 hours] in our area once F&M has been suspected. Many farmers have been caught out by the speed of MAFF's action and have had their healthy animals killed without really knowing what's hit them and what action they could have taken. If your animals are healthy, you may want some TIME to consider your options. Time to talk to family, friends and to your neighbours who may also be affected. 95% of all animals slaughtered were healthy. The 3km -zone cull [EU directive 85/511] was devised by our own MAFF officials without scientific justification.

Whatever you decide to do don't be bullied or blackmailed. You may be accused of being un-neighbourly. There are rumours of threats that by delaying you will not receive 'compensation' [compulsory purchase] or that if you decide to appeal and your animals get Foot & Mouth later, you are liable for the slaughter and disposal costs. This is just intimidation and your legal rights will be unaffected. You have no legal obligation to sign their documents.

TO GET MORE TIME - IT'S YOUR STOCK - YOUR LIVELIHOOD

If you have a camera, camcorder or tape recorder, use them and record everything. Be accompanied by friend[s] to provide eyewitness evidence. You may wish to prosecute later on.

Keep all entries to your farm, yards or buildings locked. Ask the officials why they are there. Ask for identification with ID photos from everyone. Write down details and check signatures. If not satisfied ask them to come back.

Make sure they provide a grid reference and check it is the right one! Fatal mistakes have been made.

When ID is OK and if they insist on entering the farm ask to see all official documents, copy them and WRITE DOWN details if necessary. Ask each official for written proof that they have not visited infected premises in the preceding 48 hours. [F&M virus can survive in the human lungs for 36 hours.] Ask them what disinfection precautions do they intend to carry out to themselves and to their vehicles prior to entering your farm.

BE PREPARED TO CHALLENGE MAFF AUTHORITY if they demand slaughter of your healthy animals. Insist on a comprehensive "Risk assesment" for the animals in question, in their separate locations, in writing. This must cover all factors, ie distance from nearest case, proof that F&M was confirmed there, time elapsed since then, tests, wind direction, exposure to vehicle and human movement, animal resistance levels, rarity [hefted flock], isolation capacity like fells, roads, river, walls etc.
Demand that any action is delayed until a blood test has been carried out by an independent vet and until you have seen the laboratory results. BUT remember it is an offence to conceal or treat symptoms of FMD or resist cull of FMD stock.

For legal advice especially on this crisis or to put in an appeal: William Neveille, Burges-Salmon 01179 392000 [24 hours] Mr Green of Burnetts, Solicitors, Carlisle 01228 55 22 22 Fax 01228 52 23 99 John Gouriet: 07831 342 909 or 01984 65625 Fax: 0208 994 17
Phone people for action 01229 462287