Aug 26 ~ Livestock at risk as weed thrives

(Guardian) Ragwort, toxic plant beloved of witches and warlocks, is becoming an epidemic expected to cause a painful death to 1,000 horses this year
Thousands of grazing animals, particularly horses and cattle, are at risk of being slowly poisoned to death by an innocuous looking weed. Ragwort, a willowy yellow plant often found growing on verges and reservations of roads and motorways, is spreading and is expected to kill a thousand horses this year....read more in the Guardian

Herefordshire farmer, Chris Stockdale, knows what to do ~

"Pull Ragwort up by the roots, which will kill it.

Wear gloves. Obviously try and catch it before the flowers can go to seed. Compost it if large quantities or burn it if small.

An off-farm diversification opportunity exists for the astute and locally well connected to offer Highways Ragwort Clearance, either for private gain or as a fund-raiser for say, Scouts, Riding for the Disabled, Waldorf Schools, World Development Movement -- you name it.

Ragwort is exploiting the gap created by the demise of the old roadman and the extension of the 'long acre' created by Dual carriageways, Motorways etc.

Having witnessed the explosion in wildlife , raptor and insect varieties that accompanied the period when my farm lay fallow (semi-neglected) following the cull - and the chase to present good evidence to the multiplicity of Inquiries (up to early July this year), I am increasingly appreciative of the provision of ungroomed areas of land for Nature to find a breathing space.

A little organic management (ie Ragwort pulling) is a small price to pay , though we must pay it and find a way to get it done, whether by the acre, parish, square mile, mile of Highway, Kilogramme at say 20% moisture content - or any combination that works."

Jane at farmtalking.org says: The following MPs signed an early day motion before the summer recess.

Please check if your MP is on the list and either write to thank him/her or ask your MP to support this important move forward.

EDM 1583 Ragwort Poisoning

Simon Thomas, Peter Ainsworth, John Austin, Roy Beggs, Harold Best, Peter Bottomley, Julian Brazier, David Crausby, Mrs Ann Cryer, Mrs Janet Dean, Bill Etherington, Annabelle Ewing, Adrian Flook, Mark Francois, Edward Garnier, Andrew George, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Mr Win Griffiths, Nick Harvey, Charles Hendry, Lady Hermon, Kelvin Hopkins, Andrew Hunter, Dr Brian Iddon, Brian Jenkins, Robert Key, Jim Knight, Mrs Eleanor Laing, Terry Lewis, Elfyn Llwyd, Kevin Mcnamara, Andrew Mitchell, Malcolm Moss, Archie Norman, Stephen O'Brien, Edward O'Hara, Mrs Marion Roe, Andrew Rosindell, Jonathan Sayeed, Andrew Selous, Alan Simpson, Mrs Caroline Spelman, Desmond Swayne, David Taylor, Paul Tyler, Rudi Vis, Nigel Waterson, Bill Wiggin, Mrs Betty Williams 49 signatures.

"That this house is concerned that 500 horses died from liver damage due to ragwort poisoning in 2001 and that 1000 deaths are predicted in 2002; is also concerned that the toxin in ragwort is poisonous to cattle and sheep as well as humans, so humans may, unwittingly ingest the toxin; notes that under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, landlords are legally obliged to remove ragwort from their land and calls on the Goverment to become proactive in preventing the irresponsible spread of ragwort."