The much-leaked amendments to the Animal Health Act were published today and were discussed on the flagship BBC radio 4 programme "The world at one".

As we understand them, the proposals will grant new powers for the compulsory slaughter of livestock on contiguous premises in the event of future FMD outbreaks. Elliot Morley was interviewed and asserted that 78% of infection was by local spread (note - this is jargon for neighbouring farm-to-farm), that some farmers had hindered the contiguous culling process, and that these had increased the spread of disease (this was stated as "recorded fact") - quote "there is no doubt that the actions of a minority did increase the spread of disease".

The interviewer pointed out that this week's report from the Devon public inquiry had clearly found serious failings in the governments handling of the epidemic, including the delay in movement restrictions which alone had allowed the disease to reach Devon, then further suggested that many farmers would be incensed by the claim that they themselves were responsible for disease spread. The minister brushed this aside with the assertion that it was clearly ridiculous for a minority of farmers to delay the disease control programme, and that the great majority of sensible farmers would support the new measures. He said that even if vaccination were used ("and our minds are not closed" etc etc) there would still have to be some slaughter - "there is always going to be culling, even with vaccination".

When asked if there would be no appeals procedure under the proposed changes, the minister said that under existing legislation the authorities had to obtain a court order for compulsory right of entry to slaughter, and this was a lengthy process. There would still be a right of appeal, but enforcement would be via warrant from the magistrate's court, a much faster process. He also said that "compensation" could be reduced by 25% if the slaughter of infected animals was deliberately delayed or if biosecurity was lax.

A farmer, Peter Cave from Meeth in Devon, was interviewed for his reaction. He had appealed and saved his own stock from the contiguous cull. He was angry about the proposals, accused the government of a hidden agenda to kill all livestock and to get rid of farmers, and used the term "nazi" to decribe their ability to force through parliament whatever legislation they chose, irrespective of the will of the people. He called for a mass march on London to demonstrate rural opposition.

A solicitor, Tim Russ, was also interviewed and pointed out that as no public inquiry had yet established the reasons for the spread of disease, it was premature of the government to decide that resisting farmers were the cause and to draft legislation accordingly. He made the further point that all UK law must be compliant with the Human Rights Act and with EU directives, and that both the existing Animal Health Act and the proposed changes were non-compliant.

However, what was missing from this programme now follows, in this report from Mary at the Warmwell website: (what follows can be found on this site already)