Val responded from Maine, USA, to yesterday's message with
A country with no real place for family farms is
I'm living in one. There is ( was ) a farm down the road from us. When we
moved here 6 years ago it had already ceased to function as a farm. It has
beautiful builidings.......... and PLENTY of acreage.........The farmer who
owns it was going to pass it on to his nephew.....but the nephew decided
that he could not put his family through the financial hardship that family
whenever I think about it, whenever I go by, it makes me unbearably sad.
Tara and I both have fantasies of buying it and starting it up again as a
working farm. I have fantasies about winning the lottery and giving the
cash to 2 local farms so they can be farms...........
This whole area used to be agricultural...........dairy farms mostly.
One by one they have given up.........
in many cases the land is parcelled up and houses are built........
in others the land has reverted to scrub/woods.
It is a human-created wasteland. soul-less.
It is very hard to live in a place like this.
My hens keep my sanity.......just about.........
kids grow up NOT KNOWING WHERE MILK OR BREAD COME FROM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
while they eat 'meat' from the supermarket that is from the 'efficient'
farms in the midwest
I am at a total loss for words.
Theresa sent this comment on the vaccination issue:
An essential requirement of any vaccine is that the incubation period of the
vaccine response is shorter than that of the natural disease,- ie 4 days
for the better vaccine compared with over 10 days (I understand) for the
I don't quite understand your point here - please could you expand a
I was referring to a report in your previous newsletter where it was stated
that an animal could be incubating FMD at the time of vaccination. The
point is that a vaccine should initiate immunity in a much shorter time than
the natural disease, so that even if the animal is incubating the disease
the vaccine will promote antibodies which will bind with the natural virus
antigens before the illness can develop
Astrid sent in this response to yesterday's message:
Please tell Katie thanks for the joke, I love it!!!
Well, this collection of common sense reports just confirms what many of us
have known for months.
THIS SLAUGHTER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE. And quite
rightly the correct question is "Why are they being allowed to get away with
it?" Is it because we British are so damn polite and so afraid to shout and
make waves? So used to doing as we are told? I think the meetings and
forum have been wonderful and valuable, but I think the time for such things
is past. A public enquiry is very important, but seems to me it's shutting
the barn door after the cows and sheep have departed!
Now all I want to know is what can we DO? Any ideas? (Stupid question I
suppose, if you knew, you'd be doing it!).
Our comment: We hope that everyone reading these messages is already
"doing it" - that is, spreading the truth as widely as possible to everyone
that they connect with. To have any impact, to make any difference,
requires the support of the majority of the UK public. We need to mobilise
public opinion through debate, information and peaceful protest, but this is
a tall order given the influence of government over the media.
As Astrid says - any ideas out there?
Lawrence has sent us this copy of an E-mail to Mary of the Warmwell website:
I am so angry that I have to get this off my chest despite a long list of
farm jobs still waiting to be done!
I have just had two phone calls in quick succession. The first from someone
wanting to sell us space in a 'Good Cheese Guide' associated with this
World Cheese Awards [we won a Silver in last year's Awards]. I gave her our
address and so on, but warned her not to expect us to fork out for an entry
because our production has been so reduced by the way our Government has
handled Foot and Mouth Disease. She told me that she is hearing the same
story again and again. The demand for cheese seems to be rising and 'the
multiples' are increasing production by 2.5%: but the small independent
producers and retailers are being put out of business. She agreed that this
seems to be the aim of government policy.
Next call was from a helpful advisor from 'Business Link', the body
administering the South West Region Recovery Fund - which provides help for
small businesses that have been damaged by the Way Foot and Mouth Disease
We had applied to the Fund, been accepted, had a visit from a Business Link
Advisor who had looked at the evidence of damage to our small on-farm
cheesemaking enterprise and the associated organic wool products enterprise,
and told us that we were likely to be offered a grant in the region of
#2,500. We signed all his papers, so that he will be paid for his visit and
report - and awaited results.
Then we heard from a friend who runs an on-farm business selling meat,
excellent sausages, etc. made from the rare breeds animals [mainly pigs]
which he raises, to very high standards, on his small farm. He has a
licensed butcher's shop on the farm, and sells practically everything he
produces from the farm and from local farmers' markets. He works incredibly
hard, his business was just starting to take off and he has been crippled by
the restrictions which came with foot and mouth disease. Like us, he must
have been under the constant stress caused by the threat that at any moment
he might be confronted with the demand to cull his animals - but he has
higher overheads and was of course prevented from sending the pigs to be
slaughtered. So he rapidly became overstocked and starved of income. He,
like us, had to cope with the dilemma of whether to go out to the markets
risk bringing back FMD, all the amateur biosecurity notwithstanding. His
pens became overloaded with too many, too fat pigs, and broke. His
refused to pay because, they said, the cause of the damage was not 'impact'
or 'accident' but Foot and Mouth Disease, which he wasn't insured against!
Extraordinary that FMD can even break pig pens! He is under such stress
the worry of keeping everything going, coping with all the Byzantine
complexities of movement restrictions, and doing the work to food hygiene
requirements, animal welfare needs, etc., etc. that he has crashed two cars
in the last week or so. [He drives his produce to the markets and sells
himself.] I expect the insurer will refuse to pay because the accidents
caused by foot and mouth disease.
He had been accepted for the Fund, inspected, had an accountant draw up a
business recovery plan and had been offered a grant in the region of
Then he received a 'phone call telling him that he is a farm - so he
qualify for anything! The mixture of nice man, nasty man treatment had
practically stretched him to breaking point.
So I started making enquiries - and my second 'phone call was from a very
helpful member of the Business Link staff. He told me that my foreboding
justified. My on-farm, organic, specialist cheesemaking business cannot
receive assistance from the SW Recovery Fund. This fund is administered
under EU rules and the EU rules guide the giving of aid by defining
'sectors'. The 'Transport' and 'Primary Agriculture' sectors are excluded
from receiving the aid. Because my friend fattens his own pigs and
subsequently butchers them himself and sells the meat himself, he is
classified under 'primary agriculture'. If he bought in the slaughtered
from elsewhere and sold them, he would qualify for aid. It doesn't matter
that his farm income comes almost exclusively from selling meat direct to
public, like a shop with a top farm assurance supply, he is classified under
'primary agriculture'. Similarly with us. Because we raise the sheep
ourselves, milk them ourselves and make our cheese exclusively from our own
production of milk, we are classified under 'primary agriculture'. It
doesn't matter that we sell most of the cheese ourselves from the local
pannier markets, from the farm direct to customers or by mail order. If we
bought in someone else's cheese and sold only 10% of our own, it would be
different. Similarly, if we provided agricultural services - like our
contractor, or the AI man, we would be eligible for assistance!
Words fail me. Both our friends' business and ours are what we are told the
government wants farm businesses to be. We know that they are what our
customers want. But we can't expand and contract at short notice like a
merchant trader or professional consultant - and we have been tied hand and
foot by government policy. We have been starved and squeezed and injured.
And now we find that we aren't small businesses that can be helped recover,
unlike all the other businesses which to some extent benefit from our
efforts, like hotels, B &Bs, self catering caravan keepers, agricultural
engineers, feed merchants - and of course the damned Business Advisors who
administer the Fund - who can't find out what the fundamental rules are
before they have gone out on their visits, written their reports and
collected their fees...
To give him credit, the chap who telephoned was evidently equally incensed
about the situation and encouraged me to take it up with my MP and MEP... I
will of course, if I can find time - and I won't wonder why our Ministers of
Double speak haven't done anything about this yet. It all helps the
'multiples' build up their 'market share' after all - and helps get rid of
the small independent farms and food producers.
Every man in the street 'knows' how much farmers have been 'compensated for
foot and mouth'. The truth is completely different. A lot of farms had
their animal compulsorily purchased by the State and killed - thereby
bringing their businesses to a complete halt. Most have been hamstrung by
restrictions and loaded with costs - and when it comes to the recovery aid,
farms, unlike other Rural businesses are, in fact, excluded from the little
compensation that is available.
Now I'll go and feed last year's [no longer lambs] whethers which are
eating-up the grass with this years lambs in Higher Homer Meadow.
I have received, by post a copy of the advice note given to the
Business Link Advisor with whom I discussed the SW Business Recovery Fund.
It is typed as the transcript below, on a plain piece of paper, with no
or identifying details. I have also been sent a copy of Annex 1 to the
Treaty establishing the European Community: a list of what is referred to in
Article 32 of the Treaty. I assume that this defines 'agricultural
I note that it includes: 'meat and edible meat offal', 'fish crustaceans and
molluscs', 'dairy produce; birds' eggs; natural honey', edible vegetables
certain roots and tubers', edible fruit and nuts; peel of melons and citrus
fruit', 'coffee, tea and spices', 'products of the milling industry; malt
starches; gluten; insulin', 'preparations of meat, of fish, of crustaceans
molluscs', 'cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted', 'preparations of
vegetables, fruit or other parts of plants', 'wine of fresh grapes; grape
must with fermentation arrested by the addition of alchohol', other
beverages [for example, cider perry and mead].
This, it seems to me, could potentially rule out from the recovery fund,
restaurants, pubs serving food and wine, bed and breakfast and practically
any kind of food shop... I hope that they aren't only discriminating
farm based businesses - and if they can weave their way through the rules
non farm based businesses - why not the farm based businesses too? I
been able to discuss it any further with 'Business Link' - Alan Berry wasn't
available and a woman I tried to question became increasingly tetchy and
referred me to a Government Department - but couldn't suggest which one.
suggested I should ask my MP at one of his surgeries!
The advice note runs as follows:
"I have now checked with my legal advisor, Sue Spence, and I am afraid she
agrees with me that the retail of bedding plants would be regarded as an
agricultural activity which would make this applicant ineligible under your
scheme. Agricultural activity extends to the marketing of agricultural
products and live plants are included in the definition of agricultural
products. It makes no difference that the normal activities of this company
are non agricultural nor that they are only planning to market plants and
The only way this applicant could receive grant would be if a specific
was drawn up for agricultural products which was notified to and approved by
the European Commission. As you know, this government has so far not
to do this. The Head of the Defra policy division is ...... you need to
discuss this further.
I'm afraid I have absolutely no discession in this. The Commission takes
view that any aid in the agricultural sector, however small, could distort
trade and it therefore insists on agricultural schemes being notified and
As I said on the telephone, if you go ahead and pay this applicant under
scheme then you would be paying an illegal state aid. If the Commission
discovers this then they could ask the UK to recover the aid with interest.
Ultimately they could bring a case against us before the European Court of
Justice. The risk of this might be small for one individual case but if we
disregard the rules on a large enough scale other Member States could well
complain to the Commission leading them to investigate. I realise it is
unpalatable to turn down applicants who are suffering hardship but it would
be even more unpleasant in the long run to have to recover aid after it had
From the Telegraph:
Foot and mouth vaccination is not the answer
Prof David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, explains why he
believes that culling was the right way to deal with the crisis
NEITHER I nor my science group has ever proposed a mass, nationwide
vaccination programme to tackle this crisis.
In fact no one is seriously proposing mass vaccination, and I will run
through the reasons why not.
First, mass vaccination, which would involve more than 40 million animals,
does not completely remove the virus. Those animals that are incubating the
disease when vaccinated will still become infectious.
And vaccinated animals can still carry the virus, and may be infectious to
other animals. The virus can live in the tissues of their throat for some
There is little evidence that vaccinated animals that carry the virus can
spread it, but the risk, however small, remains.
Foot and mouth disease-free countries such as New Zealand and America will
ask why they should take even the slightest risk of importing vaccinated
Second, nationwide mass vaccination does not necessarily stop the disease
spreading from generation to generation. Mothers can pass antibodies to
their offspring through their early milk.
This gives temporary protection but, at the same time, interferes with the
young animals' immune response.
Because of this, it is difficult to vaccinate young animals successfully,
and leaves them vulnerable to disease. This prolongs the period over which
the virus can continue to persist.
Third, mass vaccination would make it impossible to tell the extent to which
the virus is present in the country's livestock. There are no
internationally recognised tests that are able to distinguish between
vaccinated and infected animals.
If we had embarked on such a programme, we would not have been able to free
up large areas of the English and Welsh countryside.
We knew that this outbreak could have a long tail. But we have grounds to be
cautiously optimistic. The current outbreak has been dominated by the
disease in sheep.
Blood tests conducted on more than 700,000 sheep in areas that formerly had
the disease have shown that the vast majority of animals are healthy: less
than one tenth of one per cent gave any cause for concern.
The cull policy has wiped out the disease in much of the country. About 77
per cent of the areas that have suffered infection during the outbreak have
now been declared free of the disease.
The vaccination debate is frequently characterised as a straight choice
between mass vaccination against no vaccination at all. Vaccination has been
used overseas as a supplement to the cull policy, and the animals are often
Ring or buffer zone vaccination can be used with culling around an infected
farm or area. Animals incubate the disease for up to 14 days, and
vaccination will not work for them.
Rings would have to be very large to catch all incubating cases, some of
which appear more than six miles from the source.
In Hexham and Settle, for example, such rings would not have been large
enough to catch outlying cases. Regaining our disease-free status would also
be affected by the presence of such animals.
The one situation where I did recommend vaccination was in April when much
of the 200,000 cattle population in Cumbria was still being overwintered in
They would have been vulnerable to infection when let out into fields. It
was felt at that time to be worth all the consequences of declaring Cumbria
a vaccinated area.
The cull policy remained the Government's primary tool in bringing the
epidemic under control, and we did not feel that manpower should be drawn
away from that strategy to introduce vaccination.
However, without widespread support from the farming community, such a
programme would have been ineffective.
Despite lengthy discussions, farmers remained unconvinced. In the event, a
large number of cattle in sheds became infected before they were let out.
I believe that we are in the final stages of the outbreak. But there is no
room for complacency. There may be old disease among a few flocks of sheep
that could suddenly be stirred up into new local epidemics, as recently
occurred in Northumbria.
Any autumnal movement of livestock has to be carefully controlled so that it
does not result in greater movement of the disease.
Our comment: This statement from King simply beggars belief. It is a
travesty of the truth, full of misinformation and good old-fashioned
prejudice. That a so-called "scientist" can write such a distorted account
fills us with dread for the future of this country. What hope is there for
democracy when the puppets of government will prostitute their profession in
Foot and mouth benefits uplands
By Charles Clover
ENGLISH Nature called for a halving of sheep numbers in the uplands
yesterday after a report showed that rare flowers have bloomed for the first
time in many years as a result of reduced grazing due to the foot and mouth
Yet the interim assessment of the ecological effects of foot and mouth
disease carried out by the Government's conservation advisers warned that in
the lowlands foot and mouth restrictions and the removal of livestock were
endangering the marsh fritillary butterfly and the Lundy cabbage.
On the plus side, said the report, rare plants such as the marsh saxifrage,
hairy stonecrop and alpine forget-me-not bloomed and set seed for the first
time in many years in upland areas such as the Moor House and Upper Teesdale
national nature reserve on the borders of Cumbria and Co Durham.
Cottongrass, an important food source for the black grouse, had flowered and
seeded prolifically for the first time in many years. Heather had also
thrived as a result of the removal of sheep.
Around Skiddaw in the Cumbrian fells, where many flocks of sheep have been
lost, including an estimated 60 per cent of those on common land, English
Nature said the lack of grazing would not damage flora and fauna provided it
did not last more than a couple of years, but that there might be a flush of
oakwood and juniper regeneration.
In the Solway marshes, where all the livestock on the southern side were
lost to foot and mouth, English Nature warned that over-wintering geese
could be put off by rank dead grass if mowing was not carried out.
Elsewhere in the lowlands, English Nature warned that culling and movement
restrictions were threatening the viability of livestock agriculture in the
Culm grassland habitat in Devon, which supports the internationally rare
marsh fritillary butterfly.
In the Malvern Hills, the high brown fritillary butterfly was in a
precarious state and could be affected by lack of grazing and bracken
The effects of foot and mouth were also said to be threatening the viability
of wildlife in the valley of the Wye.
For today's joke - look back at the reporter's name of the last article!
from Alan & Rosie