Jane was also enraged by David Hill's comments on vaccination in the Western
I too have been writing to the WMN - I thought if I kept it short & simple
they might print? Here's a copy in case they don't:
11 July 01
In your article outlining the EU plans to discuss vaccination, David Hill,
the Chairman of the NFU in Devon, makes some extraordinary comments. He
claims the NFU has not had enough information about vaccination, he says he
thinks "you can't vaccinate sheep" and that when used , vaccination is
effective in only 90% of cattle.
Either he is spectacularly ignorant, or he is using your newspaper to
mislead your readers. I have in front of me two documents sent out by MAFF
to every livestock farmer in Devon in April. One is "Vaccination against
foot & mouth disease: some key facts" and the other "NFU questions on the
possible use of vaccination. Vaccination - the facts". Not only do these
documents explain that the vaccination may be given to sheep, but actually
detail the dosage required, and the fact that it would be effective for 98%
of animals. They also answer 51 questions on the subject asked by the NFU.
Did Mr. Hill not bother to read his copies?
Whether one supports vaccination or the current policy of killing everything
that moves and ruining the entire rural economy is of course a matter of
personal choice, but printing this sort of misinformation is no help; least
of all to the credibility of your excellent newspaper and to that of the
Liz sent us this, we have seen other versions before but this one is more
Political Philosophies Explained in Simple "Two-Sheep" Terms (with an Update
for the State of California)
Socialism: You have two sheep. You keep one, but must give the other to your
Communism: You have two sheep. The government takes both and provides you
Fascism: You have two sheep. The government takes both and sells you the
Bureaucracy: You have two sheep. The government takes them both, shoots one,
shears the other, pays you for the wool, and then puts it in a warehouse.
Dictatorship: You have two sheep. The government takes both, then shoots
Capitalism: You have two ewes. You sell one and buy a ram.
Democracy: You have two sheep. The government taxes you to the point that
you must sell them both to support a man in a foreign country who has only
sheep, which was a gift from your own government.
Corporation: You have two sheep. You lay one off, force the other to produce
the wool of four sheep, then act surprised when it drops dead.
California: You have two sheep. The state tells you how to shear your sheep,
when to shear your sheep, how much to shear your sheep and the most that you
can charge for the wool. You go broke and sell the sheep. The state calls
you greedy and blames you for the current wool shortage.
Borrowed from the US Shetland list.
You have two sheep. New Labour shoots both and tells you to look after
Janet has commented as follows:
I liked your letter in today's diary. I had to indulge in a smattering of
verbal fisticuffs with our local South Shropshire Journal which had an
article littered with such phrases as "deadly virus" etc etc. To give them
their due they published the letter and I notice they have been a little
I might feel differently if I owned cattle or pigs, but as a sheep farmer, I
can go along with Michaela's views. There are one hell of a lot of diseases
in sheep worse than FMD! Mind you. it has taken me several decades to get
this point. Even as a child from a non-farming family I knew that FMD was
spoken of in hushed voices as "a dreadful disease where everything dies". As
a student, we were taught the first signs, told to inform the DVO (and
everthing dies). It is only now that I have been forced to look beyond the
established view, and lo and behold I find I've been conned! I also feel
I have been conned by dealers. All those sheep I have sold for slaughter at
the market could well have changed hands several times - not good for my
pocket and certainly not good for the unfortunate sheep. When this "hysteria
hyped by history" is finally allowed to die down by the Government, perhaps
we can all find a better way of doing things!
Michaela has sent us this report from the meeting on Tuesday in Wales:
The meeting In Builth Wells, was attended by approx. 200 people, the vast
majority farmers. Ruth did her address on vaccination that I had heard
previously at the NFMG meeting in Wolverhampton. The bods at the top of the
NFU and NWFU did not pitch. Something to do with bio -security. People
were very angry.
The upshot after 3 hrs, was that a vote was taken for a mandate for Janet
Bailey (NFMG press person), Phil Owens, (farmer) and Ruth Watkins to present
the information on vaccination to the Welsh Assembly for consideration.
>From last nights meeting, farmers still do not understand that this is a
political disease. That the virus is not the main problem, but that 2nd
bacterial infection is the nasty bit. With anti- biotics,
anti-inflammatories, analgesics, palliative food, animals do not require
My impression:The farmers are only interested in regaining their markets as
quickly as possible. They are not interested, concerned (I shall use the
word selfish) for others in the rural community. They are not listening to
the arguments for welfare concerns regarding slaughter, the effect on
environment of the cull policy or even the country as a whole.
What is required is change of mindset and a change of marketing policy. I
am afraid (these are personal thoughts) that they are putting the nails into
their own coffins, by refusing to consider alternatives and to take the
measures necessary to drive a change of policy. But then, the majority of
British farmers are over 57 years of age, so one way or another it is a
Something that came out of the Builth meeting on Tuesday, apparently animals
from the welfare culls are now going into the food chain.
Also, if you recall the saliva debate, well, Ruth stated that Ab is secreted
in saliva, thereby making an infected and recovering animal less of a threat
to their companions than those incubating the disease. The reference
material certainly indicates that in any case, by the time that signs are
showing (4 days post infection), the peak of infectivity has passed, as
animal will be producing Ab about day 2 post infection.
Just been talking to Ruth Watkins. If no progress on vaccination within 15
days, the hope/plan is to go to court for a judicial review of the slaughter
policy and vaccination alternative. The costs are likely to be #20,000 +
and additional #10,000 for insurance in the event that the case is lost and
costs awarded to DEFRA/government.
We found this on the Warmwell website:
Yesterday in Parliament
Foot and mouth bans to last into the winter
RESTRICTIONS on animal movements as a result of foot and mouth disease will
remain in place until winter, Margaret Beckett, the Rural Affairs Secretary,
said last night.
It was essential to maintain bio-security, she said, and added that the new
measures included tighter movement controls around new cases and linking
bio-security standards with the granting of livestock movement licences.
Mrs Beckett was speaking during a Tory-led debate in the Commons entitled
"Crisis in the Countryside".
"I want to tell the House today of an intensified campaign that we plan to
bear down more heavily on the disease," she said.
"We have agreed new arrangements with local authorities which will require
applicants for licences to certify that they will comply with the cleansing
and disinfection rules and to issue formal warnings where bad practice is
found, leading to withholding of licences if necessary."
Mrs Beckett said the Government was imposing tighter movement controls
around new cases of the disease. The controls, she said, would focus
restrictions on the 10-kilometre area around new cases and bringing
movements in those areas to an "absolute minimum" for 30 days.
She reiterated Labour's promise to hold an inquiry into the outbreak but
said the decision on the form would be a final matter for the Prime
"We are not complacent but we are determined to work with all who have real
concern for rural areas to deliver real, long-term improvement," she said.
However, Tim Yeo, the Tories' spokesman on agriculture, said the public
would think there was a Government whitewash if there was not an independent
public inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreak.
He renewed calls for an open investigation into the causes and handling of
the crisis and wanted to know what strategy "other than hope" the Government
had for eradicating the disease.
Mr Yeo said the outbreak had added to the worries of everyone living and
working in rural areas, with farm incomes falling dramatically under Labour.
Most people in the countryside believed that the Government did not care
whether agriculture survived as a substantial British industry.
"Many people fear Labour would be happy for people to eat nothing but
imported food even though its own Food Standards Agency has admitted that
policing safety is sometimes hard."
The Government's failure to introduce "honest" food labelling, to apply the
same standards to imports as domestic food and its reluctance to claim EU
help available for farmers all reinforced that opinion, he said.
Malcolm Bruce, the Lib Dem spokesman on agricultural issues, told MPs that
the continuing crisis in the countryside was the reason that Maff, the
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, had to be replaced by Defra,
the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
"There is little evidence that this new super-department has yet undergone a
cultural transformation. Crisis management is still the overriding
Mr Bruce said foot and mouth was such a terrible tragedy because farming had
just been starting to get back on its feet after BSE.
Joyce Quin (Lab, Gateshead East and Washington West), a former junior
agriculture minister, said: "Not everything was handled perfectly given the
scale of the disaster we faced and the very stark differences between the
outbreak now and in 1967."
Miss Quin said she believed the new department would succeed in bringing
together the interests of the countryside in an environmental and
She called for more information to be given to consumers through food
labelling and better co-operation across the food chain.
James Paice, a Tory agriculture spokesman, said: "The industry has been
pressuring the Government for weeks for new answers and they get no
decisions or guidance.
"Many farmers now believe that the Government actually wants many of them to
go out of business."
Alun Michael, the rural affairs minister, said Labour was the party that
"cared for the countryside".
Our comment: It's good to learn that the government is still "bearing down"
on the disease . . . . . . .
from Alan & Rosie