Extract: So many thousands of samples being returned negative and yet the animals have been 'slaughtered on suspicion' immediately, rather that wait a few hours for a fast-track test on the samples.

"Totals for the last 8 weeks are very shocking - 39 areas, 21 of them NEW and over half a million animals slaughtered and over 1000 farms gone".

The fact is, that 'clinical diagnosis' is still being used in spite of the fact that we know it is far from accurate. So many thousands of samples being returned negative and yet the animals have been 'slaughtered on suspicion' immediately, rather that wait a few hours for a fast-track test on the samples.

On Monday evening(July 16th) I received a call from a farmer in a new area who had reported his pedigree herd of cattle unwell.

DEFRA vets had been called in and four of them had spent two days at the farm. That evening they were still there and I spoke to the senior VO among them on the telephone. He told me that all four of them had consulted long and hard with each other and they ALL AGREED that they were 'unsure', did not know what the animals were suffering from, (in fact it seemed some of the cattle were starting to recover), but they had reported the case to Page Street who had ordered a 'Slaughter on Suspicion'.

I did my best to persuade him to refuse and demand a sample test be fast tracked to obtain a diagnosis. No cull order being signed until a positive result was recieved. Sad to say I was unsuccessful.

I also explained to the farmer that he had the option to refuse to accept the valuation of his livestock, (for compulsory purchase prior to slaughter by the Government), and could argue the case for blood samples to be submitted to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Again, I regret I was unsuccessful.

I do not blame the farmer in any way. He acted responsibly and as so many before him, bears the dreadful burden that his refusal to accept the slaughter of his stock could increase the risk for his neighbours and cause further disease spread 'IF' they were infected with FMD. He has to make this decision to sacrifice his animals 'alone' and with little time for consultation with friends and family, relying only on the understanding and advice of a stranger from Farmtalking.com, whose telephone number he found in the local newspaper. Like drowning man, he clutched at this straw, but felt it could not save him from his dilemma. I do however, utterly condemn the validity of the policy and certainly the professionalism of the Veterinary surgeons involved. In this case, no effort was made to determine exactly what was wrong with the cattle and/or recommend a treatment to aid recovery. The job of the DEFRA Vet is simply to 'diagnose' FMD.

Their refusal to obtain a confirmed diagnosis via a laboratory test in the light of the evidence that so many post slaughter tests are negative, has to be extremely irresponsible and demonstrates unprofessionalism in the extreme.

DEFRA and the Vets in their employ, continue to ignore the science and sign the death warrants of healthy animals, robbing a man of the tools of his trade with impunity and inflicting the utmost despair. It is desperately sad that under 'normal' circumstances the farmer would have the benefit of lab' analysis to aid him in his decisions as regards his animal's welfare and treatment. Furthermore, it is complete lunacy that we continue this draconian policy to eradicate a disease for which there is a vaccine, in order to abide by an EU law that is no more than words written on paper that men could change.

Jane Barribal - Farmtalking.com