READER'S LETTER To ANNANDALE SERIES - ANNAN

Dear Editor,

Please find below

Russell Brown's contribution to the Animal Health Bill debate from Hansard:

    Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries): As my right hon. Friend knows, the situation was dealt with much more quickly north of the border. That is because local authorities went into action speedily with emergency planning procedures. I welcome my right hon. Friend's comments about local authorities; I hope she will impress on them the need for regular updates on contingency plans, and desktop exercises in relation to such procedures.

    There is heavy emphasis on illegal imports. That problem worries us all, but Conservative Members seem to be suffering from selective amnesia. There was a combination of factors: there was an illegal import, but there was also a farmer who did not prepare swill properly. That should never be forgotten. May I also say that there has been a significant cost, not only in terms of heartbreak, but in terms of finance. We need to look at insurance. This is about plough to plate and the food chain. It is not about hobby farming, which cost us significantly in terms of compensation to many farmers. '

Insurance - whilst companies will insure for animals actually sick with FMD (they currently pay out 25% of value, imagine only getting 25% if your car is written off) no company will insure against the contiguous and 3km culls carried out last year.

Hobby farming - as the owner of 40 home-bred ewes before FMD (none of whom had ever been more than half a mile from home) I am no doubt in this category. Hobby farmers do not keep animals for purely financial reasons, they enjoy the challenge of trying to improve the quality of their stock and become very attached to them. To occasionally secure top price in local markets is a bonus. My flock was killed in the so-called pre-emptive cull, weeks AFTER the disease had passed, during which time feed costs had spiralled as lambing was completed. I find Russell Brown's remark extremely hurtful. "