Michaela supplies some more detail of the recent Welsh TV programme:
The gist of the program was that Roy Miller, who is a farmer, businessman,
and passionate Welshman, stated that the cure had been worse
than the disease. That it was Paul Kitching's opinion (filmed and recorded
from a meeting in Brussels with Roy Miller) that double the number of
animals had been killed than was necessary. I would suggest rather more.
If for every farm that was diagnosed IP, conservatively 5 farms were taken
out as CP and DC. If 50% of those were incubating (and that is unlikely,
given that 95% of all infections arise as a result of direct animal to
animal contact), then of the 4 million that the DEFRA admit to slaughtering,
we come to a figure of 1 million that may have been infected.
Ruth of course, made the case for vaccination i.e. ring vaccination inward
round an IP with a 2nd team of vaccinators going in and vaccinating the
infected animals (which would dampen down the disease and contain it). She
also suggested that the infected animals be slaughtered (but she was talking
about effective containment and not the requirement for a blanket
Carwyn Jones refuted that this could work in Wales, because unlike Holland ,
where animals are contained within fields, sheep go everywhere. it was at
this point that his comment became rather farcical, except that the
interviewer was not sufficiently skilled to pull him up. Ruth pointed out if
it was possible to muster and slaughter, then it was equally possible to
muster and vaccinate. CJ also said that is was due to public perception
that slaughter was preferable to vaccination. i.e. Slaughter and disease
gone, vaccinate and the public would "perceive that infection was still
about and be reluctant to pursue touristy activities in the area"
The interviewer asked CJ if it had been the intention to destroy the 'family
farmer'. Far from it said CJ, actually the huge cost of culling was in
fact invested in order to protect the export market, which would be possibly
be lost forever or at least for a couple of years if vaccination had taken
place. Again the interviewer failed to point out that the compensation for
culling would have paid several times over for the loss of any export mart
of a couple of years.
Our comment: Michaela, you are far too kind to Paul Kitching's estimate.
He may be an authority on FMD but he's spent most of the epidemic in Canada.
Here in Devon, the reality on the ground is that of 150 farms that refused
the contiguous cull (like us), only one developed the disease. On this
basis only 0.7% of CP's were actually infected. It can reasonably be argued
that the resisting farms were those that had taken above-average precautions
to protect their stock, so maybe the actual percentage overall was higher,
but even MAFF could only claim that of those farms tested (not all were, by
a long way) around 20% gave positive results. So 0.7% and 20% defines the
lower and upper limits of possible infection on CP's.
The resulting calculation of healthy animals slaughtered is too sickening to
I do sometimes worry when I read all the serious, and often
plain angry, reports you publish, that my entries must sometimes sound
flippant. I'm afraid it's just my way of dealing with things. I've sometimes
reported a news item to you as a huge joke, when another contributor had
fumed over the same item. We obviously both feel the same disbelief, anger
and outrage at whatever has just occurred, but we tell it differently. I
don't think my bloodpressure could cope otherwise.
I do know that every time I look out at my sheep, I remember those terrible
weeks, and how close I
came to losing them all, and how so many others did.
Dear Alan and Rosie,
Although it is elegant, I don't agree with the analogy which Bonnie draws
between FMD with the terrorist attacks of 11th September.
It seems to me that FMD is part of the attack being made on independence and
freedom by the global scale business interests which have bought and
bankrolled the American Presidency, the New Labour Government here and the
undemocratic excesses of the EU. The terrorist attacks are an extreme
reaction against it.
There has been reaction against the handling of the FMD outbreak here. We
have protested in writing, mustered at farm gates and marched through the
streets of Exeter and London, for example. Several farmers have killed
themselves but none have simultaneously attacked the centres of operations
and symbols of the organisations that have driven them to suicide. I
remember, however, after the FMD Forum at Bristol, hearing someone who was
the picture of the respectable English Countryman, describe the illegal
outrages which he had witnessed and experienced; and then say quietly that
while he did not condone the killing of 5,000 people, he could understand
what might bring someone to crash a plane into the World Trade Centre. I
have since heard similar sentiments expressed by several other local
It is not only in the Arab and Muslim communities that 'Old Bin Liner' is
admired: and it is quite extraordinary to find English countrypeople to whom
the dictates of fundamentalist Islamic religion would be anathema should
been moved to admiration of one of its most extreme proponents.
The official story of the start of our FMD outbreak was that infected meat
imported into the country was fed to pigs in inadequately treated swill.
import of the infected meat could only have been allowed by criminal
negligence on the part of our government in not taking measures to prevent
obvious danger of which it had been repeatedly forewarned. Despite the
officially acknowledged danger and all the experiences of the last seven
months, the legal and illegal import of potentially infected material
continues virtually unchecked. The other unofficial theories about the
origin of the outbreak are that it was an accidental escape from a
arising from a lack of care, perhaps a deliberate lack of care; or that it
was a deliberate act of biological warfare, perhaps designed to further the
interests of a global food producing company. At best, the origin was in
consciously repeated negligence; something that happened 'accidentally on
purpose' [in the language of Hollingbourne County Primary School]. At worst
it was started deliberately. In either case the beneficiaries were global
scale companies [such as food producing and trading companies, transport and
oil companies - and perhaps the Pharmaceutical Companies that manufacture
As the understanding of what has happened here grows, it become more and
clear that the measures adopted for control and eradication of FMD were
incompetently administered and guaranteed to inflict the severest economic
damage on the independent livestock farms. These are being driven out of
business and bankrupted in increasing numbers. The average annual income
from a 500 acre lowland farm here in the UK, has fallen from #80,000 to
#2,500. What has happened to the 200 acres and smaller Devon livestock
has been worse.
The beneficiaries of this process are the global scale multinational
companies of the kind that has been alleged to have started the outbreak:
companies that exert control over world governments, the World Bank, World
Trade Agreements, etc. [Note: it isn't necessary to believe that there is
anything 'personal' or a deliberate intent to achieve world domination by
these competing interests. It can be seen as a sort of impersonal process;
of corporate evolution. Control of world food production and distribution
a particularly effective asset in this struggle. It was fairly easy to
understand the process of National aggrandisement. This Corporate
aggrandisement is somewhat more subtle.]
Through the outbreak of FMD here and its treatment and consequences, we have
experienced and are continuing to experience in particularly blatant
the kind of treatment suffered at the hands of these global scale interests
by small independent farmers and rural communities throughout the world.
The terrorist strike at the headquarters of these interests [the World Trade
Centre] and their enforcers [the Pentagon] was a reaction from people who
have been pushed further than us. To those that carried out the attacks,
victims would not have been 'innocent victims' any more than are the
residents of the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan to the US and UK
airforces that are now bombing them. Our media accept without second
that the occupants of the 'training camps' are legitimate targets and can be
killed on our behalf: and that, unfortunately, there will be some killing of
'innocent civilians' ['collateral damage'] too. Perhaps we should try to
more clearly what is being done in our names and whether it is truly for the
Whatever we conclude, I suggest that the terrorist attack on the World Trade
Centre is not the same kind of disease as FMD and the analogy is misleading.
From the Westmorland Gazette:
12.10 Rumours quelled
THE man leading the fight against foot-and-mouth in Cumbria has spoken out
to quell rumours that the most recent cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the
county were not, in fact, foot-and-mouth. Ray Anderson of DEFRA spoke to the
Gazette after rumours following the Barbon case on September 26. He
confirmed that the Barbon case, an earlier one at Kirby Stephen, and the
county's most recent case at Little Asby on September 30, had all returned
negative results for blood tests. But he explained the test, which looks for
active virus in samples rather than for antibodies, could not be taken as
proof positive that the disease was absent. "While the test is robust in
establishing the presence of virus it is not sufficiently robust to say
there is definitely no virus there," he said. "We do not test every animal
and the test will not always detect a very low level of virus. "Although
[the results] are encouraging from the point of view that we have failed to
isolate virus and we can say there is not a very high level of active virus,
we cannot go all the way and say there is no virus there. The animals
involved were slaughtered as a result of confirmed clinical diagnosis in a
small number of animals in each case." Mr Anderson said it was not yet clear
how the disease had reached Barbon, but was satisfied that it was an
isolated outbreak. He said DEFRA would be making a special effort to lift
the 3km restriction zone around Low Bank House Farm as soon as possible.
That will depend on blood testing and inspecting susceptible animals in the
3km zone which began on October 19, 21 days after initial cleaning and
disinfection. Mr Anderson said in the best case scenario, where all blood
tests proved negative, restrictions could even be lifted by the end of
October. But he stressed the success of the plan depended on co-operation,
not only of farmers, but also of anyone with a pet belonging to susceptible
species, including lambs, goats, lamas and cattle. Anyone with a pet which
needs inspection or blood testing should call DEFRA at Carlisle on
Which drew this comment from Mary at the Warmwell site:
Oct 13 ~ If we have correctly understood the words of Defra's Ray Anderson,
"THE man leading the fight against foot-and-mouth in Cumbria " according to
an admiring Westmorland Gazette, DEFRA feels it was right to kill the
uninfected sheep at Barbon - and by implication, any uninfected sheep
It seems to have occurred to them that the scientists' scrupulous maxim,
"you cannot prove a negative. You can only say there is no evidence", can be
very usefully employed as posthumous justification for the millions of
unjustified animal deaths. Having "quelled", as the paper puts it, the
"rumours" that the slaughtered Barbon animals were NOT suffering from FMD,
Deathray Anderson says that the negative blood tests don't prove that the
result is negative. For him, the clinical diagnosis is proof enough.
The world expert in the field, Paul Kitching, said again only last week that
clinical diagnosis of FMD in sheep is impossible. Not just difficult but
But Defra asserts that the disease was there even when blood tests tell us
that it was not. Anderson does not "know how it got there". He goes on to
urge the cooperation of every single owner of susceptible animals (including
llamas which are proved not to be susceptible) in a 3 km radius in blood
tests - and dangles the carrot of the end to restrictions in Cumbria by the
end of October - possibly...
Our comment: The Unfortunately-named Ray Anderson (just one letter
difference from our least favourite Professor Roy "liar" Anderson) sports a
similar line in reverse-logic sequencing to his near-namesake. When the
internationally-accredited test procedures show that the stock were not
carrying FMD, any normal person would think that this was a clear result -
and that if the test result is to be of no value (according to Ray) then
there is no point whatsoever of carrying out the test in the first place.
It's a very clear "heads we win, tails you lose" situation in which there
can be only one conclusion - it was FMD, irrespective of whether or not the
tests detect any virus.
Perhaps Ray would now like to explain to his waiting audience how the
wide-scale blood-testing programme, upon which he places such importance,
can now be of any value towards the lifting of restrictions - because by his
own logic, negative results will not mean that FMD is absent, will they?
Also from the Warmwell site:
Oct 12 ~ The horrors at Knowstone were relived yesterday
at the Devon Public Inquiry. At one stage there were five van loads of riot
police in Knowstone, MAFF arrived at farms early in the morning and said
they would employ the police to make the farmers let them cull their stock.
But when the police arrived they confirmed they did not have any power to do
that.William Norman, from the parish council, said the animals had been on
the farm all their lives and knew the farmer's voice. When they were
confronted with men in white suits flapping their arms around, they became
frightened. Five cattle were shot but another 19 bolted and "spread
themselves" around the parish. He saw one animal in a field at 4pm and the
animal was not finally shot until 8.15pm. "It had stood in the field on its
own all day, it was so traumatised," said Mr Norman. "I have never seen an
animal like it." Another animal was shot at on the Sunday and probably on
the Monday as well but was not actually killed until the Tuesday. "Some took
four or five shots to kill. It was chaos and a shambles," he said.
We understand that, since June, there have been in excess of 3,500
complaints of cruelty with regard to the foot and mouth crisis.
Our comment: We took Bonnie to Knowstone, to film interviews with three of
the farmers directly affected by the events that took place there. The
atrocities in that one parish encapsulate the wrongs of the entire epidemic.
Bungled slaughter, escaped bullocks, farmers intimidated, farm-gate
protests, illegal police action and the rest ALL happened right here in a
sleepy Devon village. Those animals that were saved from slaughter by
protest and court action have all remained disease-free. Despite the
unbelievable cruelty to the bullocks, witnessed by most of the village, none
of the slaughtermen, vets, DEFRA officials or police that broke the law have
been brought to account. The trauma of what happened still haunts the people
And there will not be a public inquiry to expose those responsible.
From the Ananova website:
Minister `cautiously optimistic' over foot-and-mouth
The Government is cautiously optimistic about the progress of the battle
against foot-and-mouth disease.
Two weeks after the last confirmed case was recorded, Department of
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Elliot Morley said the signs
"We are cautiously optimistic. But we would not be surprised if there wasn't
the odd case yet," he said.
"So therefore it is very important that farmers don't drop their guard, that
they keep good standards of biosecurity and regularly inspect their animals
"We can't rule out altogether that there might be the odd outbreak but
generally all the indications are very positive," he told the BBC Radio 4
He acknowledged that lessons had to be learned from this year's experience,
and went on: "We will have to look at the whole issue of our contingency
plans for an outbreak on this scale and this size."
There was now an opportunity to re-examine the size of national flocks.
"It would certainly be useful if we could look at where there have been
problems with the livestock sector in terms of the size of the national
flock ... and if we can take the opportunity of the re-stocking and
restructuring which will have to come of tackling some of these issues then
that will be to the benefit of everybody," he added.
From The Times:
SATURDAY OCTOBER 13 2001
Pyres fallout spread disease, says vet
BY SIMON DE BRUXELLES
FOOT-AND-MOUTH disease was spread by debris from burning carcasses, a vet
told a public inquiry yesterday. Wendy Vere described how unburnt hair and
skin from one pyre fell around the village of Knowstone in Devon, where
several cases of the disease were confirmed later.
She said she was 100 per cent certain that the virus that causes
foot-and-mouth could be spread by contact with hair from infected animals,
despite the Ministry of Agriculture's view that there was no risk.
Mrs Vere, who has a practice in Morchard Bishop, Devon, said that she
collected bags of "great big lumps" of unburnt skin and hair from pyres and
that similar debris had fallen on cars on the North Devon link road.
She told the inquiry being held by Devon County Council that over-zealous
civil servants had been responsible for "carnage by computer" when they
ordered contiguous culls without taking local conditions into account. The
result was the unnecessary slaughter of tens of thousands of animals on
farms that bordered infected premises, but were, in reality, separated. In
one case, a farm was ruled to be contiguous even though it was six fields
and a road away from the nearest infection.
Mrs Vere said: "Each farm has a holding number and the farms around it have
holding numbers, but in reality the animals could be many miles away and
separated by arable fields, woods or rivers.
"The person in London will just see the numbers and say they have to be
taken out. That was why it was carnage by computer. They were taken out
without any local knowledge and in some cases there was no more disease risk
than if they had been on the other side of the county."
She added: "In the past six months I have seen more animal welfare issues
and more distressed colleagues and farmers than I ever dreamt possible. It
has been a horrific experience."
From the Westmorland Gazette:
Protest march postponed
A MARCH to protest about the Governments handling of the foot-and-mouth
crisis has been called off because of security concerns in the wake of the
September 11 terrorist attacks in America and Britains involvement in
retaliatory strikes in Afghanistan. Hundreds of Cumbrians were expected to
join others from Yorkshire, Wales, Devon, Worcestershire and the rest of the
country in the march from Speakers Corner at Hyde Park to 10 Downing Street
on October 20. Thousands of people had been expected to join the march,
during which a nationwide petition in support of vaccination was to be
handed in at Downing Street. Regional organiser Viscountess Liz Lowther said
the march had been stopped after advice from police in London, but she
stressed that it had only been postponed.
From the Times:
Scots frustration over meat export ban
ROSS FINNIE, Scotland's Rural Development Minister, yesterday expressed his
exasperation with the European Commission over the lack of progress in
resuming meat exports to Europe. Although the Commission has agreed
partially to lift a ban on the export of pig meat from the UK, the ban on
export of sheep meat from Scotland remains because of the foot-and-mouth
outbreak earlier this year. Today Mr Finnie will meet Commission officials
in an attempt to impress on them the importance of resuming exports for
Scottish farmers. Regions that have not had a case of the disease, and which
do not neighbour high risk areas will be able to export pork and bacon from
October 22 after a decision earlier this week by the European Union Standing
Veterinary Committee. Mr Finnie said he would be impressing on the
Commission the need for urgent action to help Scotland's meat export
industry. He added: "Scotland has been disease free since May 31. It was the
Standing Veterinary Committee that regrettably rejected the case for sheep
meat and I share the farmers' despair and sense of anger that they came to
that decision. We must get a timeframe for getting the ban on sheep meat
lifted." Jim Walker, president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland,
claimed yesterday that devolution had failed the country's farmers. They had
fulfilled all the EU prerequisites for lifting the export ban but had not
been given any acknowledgement that the country had a separate case. "The
devolved settlement as far as exports are concerned has completely failed
this country," he said.
Our comment: It doesn't help Mr Finnie and the Scottish farmers to say "we
told you so" - but we did.
Also from The Times:
Desperate farmers set to move animals
FARMERS are so desperate for cash that they are ready to break the law and
move animals in areas infected by foot-and-mouth, risking new outbreaks, the
Government's Chief Scientific Adviser was told yesterday. The warning was
given at the National Farmers' Union's quarterly council to David King, who
is under pressure to relax the strict movement controls in high-risk
counties to relieve welfare problems and allow normal trading. The farmers'
desperation emerged as farm income figures showed that even lowland farmers
were working for less than a quarter of the minimum wage. The annual report
from the accountants Deloitte & Touche shows that the average 500-acre
family farm made #2,500 last year, compared with #80,000 five years ago.
With most farmers working 70-hour weeks, the average hourly rate is about
70p. The minimum wage for over-21s is #4.10. Hill farmers, in a worse
position, have told the NFU that they are running up losses of #15,000 a
year. Ben Gill, president of the NFU, said that farmers expected to maintain
disinfecting procedures, but he emphasised that they needed to earn money.
Farmers attending the quarterly council were optimistic that the disease was
on the wane as there have been no new cases for ten days. But Professor King
said that he would not consider the epidemic over until three months had
passed without a new case. He added: "If there are illegal movements we will
be back to square one." He was left in no doubt that further animal
movements were necessary to prevent the starvation of hundreds of sheep and
cattle trapped in upland areas. Peter Allen, a Cumbrian hill farmer, said
that his friends and colleagues were at breaking point: "If we dont allow
some movements on farms that are bursting to the seams, you'll soon see
sheep with dark glasses and baseball caps sitting in the front seats of
People are in a desperate situation and we need to do something. We also
have other farmers who had foot-and-mouth in the beginning and have had
their compensation, but they are living on it. We must allow them to restock
to survive. Mr Allen said that many farmers had ewes and rams that were
usually sold for breeding, not for food, and that disease controls were
interfering with the breeding season. There were also serious welfare
concerns. Mr Allen said that animals would have to be moved within two weeks
or they would perish.
Our comment: As we keep saying - if vaccination had been used instead of
slaughter, movement restrictions would quickly have become unnecessary and
farmers could have returned to normal living (if temporarily without
exports) within weeks.
Finally, our plea for jokes was answered by Tom:
Short of jokes, something must be done.
Two men in a car are off to plant a bomb. Don't drive so fast, say's one,
you'll set the bomb off. Don't worry, says the other, I put a spare one in
from Alan & Rosie