Excellent news this morning indeed , including a terrific interview with Dr. Caroline Lucas, MEP on Farming Today.

However, keep the Champagne on ice;

....the anti-vaccination lobby are not about to go away or relinquish their position of authority and the ability to write the History. To them this is just another regrettable and tiresome but necessary episode in the ongoing retention of the FMD-free without vaccination policy in which 'Britain has led the world' ...hurrah.

A quick skim through the DEFRA Interim Contingency Plan will reveal almost no reference to vaccination other than to state that ROD's may be responsible for implementing such. No one is responsible for provision of cold-chain and vaccine related paraphernalia --needles, vaccine, tags, freeze brands, electronic inserts or passports

Nor is anyone responsible for the rapid training of stockmen to carry out such a task or to supply the necessary backup and support to facilitate implementation of such by Vets.

Admittedly this is an Interim Contingency plan and the vaccination strand has yet to report; but nothing in it to date inspires confidence that a future response will be any different in any respect other than 'killing more more quickly'.

True, thorough Contingency planning allied to cross-governmental rehearsals could drastically reduce the carnage in all but a worst-case scenario: but there is no trigger mechanism for when that 'worst-case scenario' threshold is crossed.

Therefore there is no rebuttal to the old argument that 'so many have died , we owe it to them(?) to continue' which also means, 'we can't now admit that we got it so wrong so must continue whatever it takes and lie and cover-up and distort the Truth till the end -- then say this was the only way to do it'.

The whole argument by now sinks or swims on the risk of the vaccinated carrier animal triggering a recrudescence of disease.

We know that laboratory attempts to infect naive stock from such carriers have always failed - but reports of such happening in the field are the sticking point. John Crowther of IAEA has called for much more work to be done actually to assess this risk.

This should be done, as the whole policy hinges on it.

If the risk were actually nil then a theoretical bovine carrier infectivity of three and a half years still equals nil risk. If the risk is small but not nil, as Pirbright and others argue, then we need to analyse the cost-benefit of losing some agricultural exports, to some markets, for that period of time against the non-losses to the Tourism industry. Also to be analysed should be the non-financial gains such as social wellbeing and the implementation of a progressive and stewardship-conscious animal welfare policy, and including less pollution, (including of Sir John Krebs beloved BSE Prions -- where did they go in the cull?)*.

Is the risk and cost-benefit analysis worse for onward transmission of FMD or for BSE? ....... Pigs, of course, do not have carriers, and sheep for a lesser time, so could, via a process of bio-secure containment (quarantine), more rapidly resume live export for those pedigree producers most disadvantaged.

The optional implementation of FMD (as opposed to political) Regionalisation also offers the possibility of making such a period less onerous if selected.

With a political will to achieve it, our home market could be primarily supplied from home production, allied to co-operative marketing initiatives and provision of cold-storage facilities. Furthermore, the ability to cope with such and the gains to British Science arising from the monitoring and administering of a progressive policy,not to mention ethical credibility in the eyes of the world Community, would surely outweigh the (compensatable) losses to that narrow sector of society any residual infectivity (if any) in a carrier animal could cause.

That sector should be identified so that avoidance of disturbance to its trading patterns can be reduced, insured against or provision made for compensation as the Policy makers decide in their wisdom. I suspect that on close analysis the irreversibly damaged would be few in number, and forewarned (now) could take pre-emptive action.

Indeed the point of stating this is to bring forward those who would suffer so that we can accommodate their needs. For if two things are certain it is that we cannot repeat the 2001 scenario; and that without continuing concerted effort, we will. NOT ON MY FARM, PAL ! I may be only a small farmer, in fact I am presently hardly farming at all thanks to the time I am having to spend trying to protect my stock from this ever happening here again; but until Feb. 2001 I was expanding continuously and was hoping to expand off my home base to cover as much ground as I could-- and still will if I can ever get out of the Office. My point is that I am only a small boy and yes I could earn my living off the farm. But I am in farming to do a job, namely to act as the husbandry-man at the interface between the Cosmos above and the Earth below, responsible both for and to my livestock, and I have no intention of relinquishing that responsibility. I therefore request that the NFU begin to take note of 'minority' opinions like mine or find that the split in farming's representation is not to their advantage.

Meanwhile, some will present a Vaccination policy (more accurately provision for and instruction to vaccinate should certain previously-indicated criteria be met) as a European intrusion on British Sovereignty and a dastardly plot to undermine British agriculture.

I would reply that on some occasions I thank God for Europe.

Yes, the Commissioners may be remote and unaccountable, so get in there and work to improve that situation! The EU has kept the peace in Europe for 50 years and politicians will regard agricultural suffering as an acceptable price to pay (as long as they have food on the table) for the construction of a peaceful powerblock that can purchase, supply, negotiate and fight its weight with the superpower(s).

It isn't going away, whether one likes it or not, it does not in any significant way mean the demise of the British cultural identity, so lets have a Green, Democratic and peaceful Europe with a progressive Agricultural policy and go round the also non-accountable (except to their shareholders) Company Directors and Union Chief who wreaked this havoc!

With best wishes, Chris.

PS. Correction. In my report from the EU Temporary Standing Committee meeting in Hereford, I inaccurately reported that a 'clean-up' company Officer had been asked to attend 36 farms in one day (where the stock had been dead for greater than three weeks); the correct figure was over three days. Apologies. CS

*Hence the Scrapie plan?