Some thoughts from Diana:
Something one of your contributors said connected
with a thought I'd had about movement records. We're told we have to keep
these records in case of disease outbreaks, but no-one has asked to see my
records, even when we were put on a D-notice, making me wonder why I am
bothering to keep them. To quote from Devon County Council's "Animal Health
Postal Record Inspections" - "Livestock holders have had to keep records for
certain stock born on, and moving to and from farms for several years. This
was mainly to trace animals when disease broke out. Fortunately there have
been no major disease outbreaks in Devon for many years now. However the
records have been used on a regular basis to trace bovines that may have
been infected by tuberculosis." The point is that, although these records
would (presumably) have been consulted if your farm was diagnosed with FMD,
they don't seem to have any bearing on how you are treated as a contiguous
case, or even as a 3k premises. One glance at my book would have told them I
was not an "at risk" premises, and saved us all a lot of work and worry. In
reality I was merely asked if anything had moved since January. I asked them
"which January?" (the last movement onto this holding being 1997).
It's just further proof that controlling FMD is not the main item on the agenda,
whereas wiping out farms and livestock is.
I'm afraid I don't have a joke for you - sorry, I do. It's called Defra!
This contribution comes from Tom:
There was a lot of interesting material in this mailing. The farmer from
Cumbria who says that privately, the govt. admits it got it wrong is
progress of a sort. I bumped into someone with 40 sheep who was against
vaccination. Questioning revealed that the objection was over the refusal of
some countries to take our meat. How short sighted can you get, the damage
caused by DEFRA has been far worse than the disease.
Janets contribution on part-timers was interesting. You may have noticed
that despite hard economic times, unemployment continues to fall according
to official (fudged) figures. This is how it works. The local Gestapo shop
found me a weekend job in a local factory, 24 hours per week. Anyone working
over 16 hours a week is, according to the Jobcentre, now classed as in
full-time employment, unless of course, you are on New Deal which says that
unless you work thirty hours a week, you are part time. Even the Jobcentre
staff seem to have taken classes in the new doublespeak, using words like
"taking control of your own life" and "getting your selfworth back". Amazing
times we are living through.
John Stewart's Scotsman article makes some valid points.Its not easy to see
the big picture. As the saying goes, " When you are up to your **** in
Alligators, it's hard to remember your first objective was to drain the
swamp". This high energy, global economy he speaks of is the stuff off
nightmares, it will benefit the few (like the company with 14.5 million
acres and 375000 head of cattle) while condemning most to a life of poverty,
both in an actual sense and in terms of aspiration.
Give me locally produced food any day of the week, studies show that money
spent in the local area benefits everyone far more than spending it in some
far off land.
Finally, I loved the SUPPLIES joke. Everyone I have tried it on thought it
was a real hoot. Try this one: A gorrilla escapes from a country zoo and
wanders onto a housing estate, going down the back alleyways, knocking the
lids off dustbins and rummaging around in them for food. Well, have you
heard it? No?
It hasnt been down your way yet. This joke works best when spoken, not
written. Try it.
Lawrence sent us this item:
Hearing the rhubarb about biological warfare and bioterrorism on the BBC R4
'Today Programme' this morning - as 'special correspondants' discussed
bizarre and difficult scenarios, I felt again like the pantomome audience
shouting "Look behind you!" No one even mentioned foot and mouth disease -
the biological scourge, so simple and safe to deliver [and so devastating
with some help from the scientific establishment] which has ravaged the UK.
No one even breathed the suggestion that we might have been victim of a
highly successful 'bioterrorist attack'. Perhaps the wrong people were
responsible... With this in mind, I searched the Tyson Foods, Inc.
and found that they achieved their 'merger' with IBP - in June this year.
Remember the suggestions about the origins of our FMD outbreak? [see under
the warmwell website 'origins?' prompt for a discussion of the uses of FMD
agent of bioterrorism and the possible involvement of Tyson Foods, Inc.]
With best wishes,
Bert sent us this message:
I read Val's contribution about the struggling Montana farms with interest,
and yes, she hit the real point: there is no upward limit to how big a farm
needs to become to remain profitable! In her example 5000 acres wasn't big
enough. This is exactly the point, but it baffles me that so few people,
and especially policy makers see it or are willing to address it! When
government and NFU documents show that they expect the 20% of smallest farms
to go, they talk about farms that would have been fairly large 50 years ago.
We have to get to the root of this otherwise the misery and rural
degradation will continue, and that is a global phenomena, not just an
English one. I read an article from the Bangkok Post recently, believe it
or not, about Thai farmers who turned their back on their economists' advice
and stopped growing rice for the export market. They were finding that it
didn't pay, the margin's were being eroded all the time, and their
communities suffered. Sounds familiar? Some are deciding to grow for
themselves and their communities again, and lo and behold, they found that
they could pay off their debts quicker, their family life improved and their
children regained interest in taking over the farm.... This was done with
grassroots support from the community and local (Buddhist) priests.
The problem is some say, that farmers are the only ones competing in a
global free market, with hundreds of thousands of small players at the base
of the pyramid, and very few corporations indeed controlling the rest.
Please let farmers learn from the recent crises that "free trade", that
vague ideological term, is not their saviour, but their doom. Agriculture
always gets sacrificed in global negotiations over free trade. It is the
big exporters that want it, and they pass as representatives of farmers. Is
that not just what we have seen over Foot and Mouth?
If anyone out there would like to join in this debate, please come to the
Green Party conference (open to all) on "Farming beyond foot and mouth? on
Friday 26 October at St Leonards Church, Topsham Road, Exeter.
email email@example.com or ring 01363 772939 for more info.
# # #
Andrew King has responded to Alan's latest message (see Saturday Sandblast)
"The comment has been made that the current epidemic would surely have been
an ideal testing ground for "Fred's" machine, to see how it performed in the
real world alongside the validated tests. Had this been done and useful
results obtained, it could have played a part in reducing the death toll of
uninfected animals on contiguous premises. It does seem, to the layman, an
opportunity wasted. By the way, Fred quoted a cost of #16,000 (I think) for
Ans: the machine is actually not relevant to the biggest issue at the
moment which is the serum testing. The price I heard may admittedly have been dollars, not pounds.
"The ten-year old cows were not claimed to display antibodies, his point was
rather that these animals had co-existed alongside unvaccinated stock with
no problems for all these years, thus highlighting the irrationality of
slaughtering recent vaccinates."
Ans: Not at all! Europe had operated a mandatory vaccine programme
continuously since way back; the '50s probably. The theory was that any
carriers still around at the start would have had nothing to infect and so
the infection would eventually die out, despite occasional incidents caused
by introductions of FMDV into Europe, use of flunky vaccine, and escape from
vaccine factories (all of which happened from time to time). By 1990 there
had been several years without any signs of the disease, and the European
Commission decided to take the great gamble and stop vaccination Europe-wide
simultaneously. The gamble worked, but it was still recognised as a gamble.
The current situation in the UK is different because active disease is
recent/ongoing, and we know that any animals carrying antibodies have a high
probability of being carriers.
"Regarding Fred's reference to airborne spread as a "myth", from memory I
believe he used this term in connection with the 1981 outbreak in the Isle
of Wight, so he may have meant long-distance spread specifically."
Ans: The 1981 I-of-W case is not really relevant, because no-one is
suggesting that FMDV flew from e.g. Cumbria to Powys directly on the wind.
The evidence for wind-borne spread, in a general sense, is irrefutable. Most
relevant was a detailed reconstruction of the great 1967/8 epidemic showing
how the virus tended to spread downwind.
But, since you raise the issue of the 1981 I-of-W outbreak, there
are many people who find it hard to accept that an infection can spread on
the wind >200 km, and that is quite understandable. As Fred knows only too
well, however, all three secondary outbreaks (Jersey, I-of-W and Cherbourg)
were (i) coincident, (ii) in the direct line of the virus plume, and (iii)
identical molecularly to the each other and to the original outbreak virus
in Brittany. (iv) There was no other epidemiological connection between
those outbreaks, and (v) the mini-epidemic occurred in total isolation,
there being no other outbreaks in Britain or France for years either before
or after (the incident was caused by infectious French vaccine; (a reason
the EU wanted to stop vaccinating)). For me, the most telling evidence is:
(vi) it was forecast. One can rationalise events in hindsight and get it
wrong, but the I-of-W outbreak was PREDICTED, the veterinary authorities
were on the alert, and it happened on cue; the only UK outbreak during the
entire period from 1968 to 2001! Obviously, it is very rare for FMDV to
spread that far; it just happened that the disease was roaring away in
10,000 pigs at the precise moment when perfect conditions were prevailing
over the Channel. Rare, yes! But it is not unique for FMDV to spread very
long distances at night over water.
"Now to non-sustaining disease in sheep! With respect, I cannot agree that
this makes the problem worse. What it says to me is that if cattle are
vaccinated, the disease will die out naturally in the sheep and that's it,
epidemic over. According to Paul Sutmoller, whom I questioned closely on
this aspect, that is what happened in Uruguay for example, so that after two
years of vaccinating the cattle only, they were able to stop vaccination and
remain FMD free for a further four years. The sheep did not cause any
recrudescence of disease. So in terms of disease control, non-sustaining
disease is an advantage, you don't need to vaccinate that species at all.
And from the sheep-keepers' perspective (mine!) you can argue that the
disease is simply not our problem - the symptoms are mild or non-existent,
it dies out naturally, we don't need to take any action against it when
there are far more serious conditions that we do need to protect our flocks
against. FMD in this epidemic is principally a disease of cattle, and the
onus lies with cattle owners to protect their stock as they see fit, with
vaccination the obvious course of action, as routinely used for other
diseases. Just imagine if roles were reversed so that cattle were hardly
affected but sheep were the principal victims of FMD - do you think we'd be
slaughtering UK cattle in their millions to save the sheep?
No, you bet we wouldn't!"
Ans: Sorry! I hadn't appreciated that your leave-well-alone policy
towards sheep entailed vaccinating cattle. Personally, I don't disagree with
you. As I have been saying, this country does need to rethink vaccination
policy, and probably IS rethinking it. But! Some of those cattle will become
carriers, and it will be a couple of years at least before the danger
passes. In the meantime, the UK will be the dirty man of the developed
world, and no amount of campaigning by Ruth Watkins, Jane Barribal, Susan
Hills, or Janet Hughes, will soften the hearts of our trading partners. So!
If the UK adopts your policy, the winners will be tourism (rightly because
it is economically more important) and the general public; the losers,
Our comment: Alan will be replying to these points in detail, but here's a
quick reaction. Re. the ten-year-old cows, the point seems to completely
pass AK by that when the EU stopped vaccination, there was not a single case
of a "carrier" causing recrudescence of the disease across the whole of
Europe - so why is the UK so hell-bent on slaughtering all animals with
antibodies now? The risk of these causing fresh outbreaks of disease is
still virtually zero, just as if they had been vaccinated as in Holland.
From the Farmers Weekly website:
25 September 2001
Spectre of virus returns to Dales
By Nigel Burnham
OVER 1000 animals have been slaughtered at a farm near Settle amid fears
that foot-and-mouth disease has returned to the Yorkshire Dales.
Vets were called to W Sutcliffe and Sons' Home Farm, at
Horton-in-Ribblesdale, at the weekend after suspicious symptoms were
This led to the slaughter on suspicion of 190 cattle and 850 sheep on Sunday
and Monday (23-24 September).
Horrified Yorkshire Dales farmers are now awaiting blood tests to see if the
virus that has already wreaked havoc around Settle is back.
Horton is well known as the base for walkers exploring the legendary Three
Peaks -Ingleborough, Whernside and Penyghent.
If confirmed, it will be the first case in the area since 25 July, when
livestock were destroyed at a farm seven miles away in Giggleswick.
The last case in North Yorkshire was confirmed on 18 August at a farm near
Philip Sutcliffe, who helps run the family business, said that he became
concerned about the animals on Saturday when he noticed some were not eating
"We called the vets to be on the safe side and to safeguard the rest of the
community," he said.
"We were absolutely stunned. We took a lot of pride in our stock and are
keeping our fingers crossed that the blood tests prove negative."
A Defra spokeswoman said: "We are very concerned that the disease may have
returned to the Horton-in-Ribblesdale area but cannot confirm anything until
we have the results of the blood tests."
25 September 2001
East Midlands is virus-free
By FWi staff
THE East Midlands is officially foot-and-mouth-free.
Leicestershire was declared disease-free on Tuesday (25 September) after
vets completed blood tests.
Derbyshire was granted disease-free status last week.
The Leicestershire tests confirmed there are no traces of the virus left in
the county, which was the last in the region remaining "at-risk".
Vets had visited 182 farms since August, testing nearly 12,000 sheep and
The change comes just over a fortnight after 53 cattle suspected of having
the disease were slaughtered on two Leicestershire farms.
The scare proved unfounded when the cattle tested negative.
A spokesman from Defra's Leicestershire animal health office said the new
status would help farmers recover from the crisis.
There will be more scope to move animals for commercial reasons, he added,
but he reminded farmers that all movements still require a licence.
There were 15 cases in the East Midlands, including six in Leicestershire,
the last of which was at Ashby-de-la-Zouch on 23 April.
Over 20,000 animals have been slaughtered in the region.
The government is working towards reducing the disease status of counties
throughout the country to enable more licensed livestock movements over the
Warwickshire, in the West Midlands, was also recently granted disease-free
There was one new case of the disease, in Northumberland, confirmed on
Monday (24 September), taking the UK total to 2027 confirmed cases.
From the Newcastle Journal:
Farmers forced to cull healthy stock Sep 25 2001
By Anna Lognonni, The Journal
Northumberland farmers are having to put their livestock down because new
foot-and-mouth restrictions prevent them from moving the animals to fresh
pastures just a few miles away.
Thousands of Northumberland hill-bred lambs and cattle, which are
traditionally sold for breeding or fattening, will end up in rendering
plants and landfill sites, because hill farmers, who have had little or no
income since February, are running out of animal feed.
Normally these animals are sold to lowland farmers but strict movement
restrictions, which came into force yesterday for cattle and pigs and will
start on October 1 for sheep, will prevent animals from being moved into or
out of the county or the Allendale Blue Box.
With the animals trapped on unsuitable farms, the only option for many
farmers is the Government's animal welfare scheme, which farmers say only
pays a fraction of the animal's market value.
The news comes as meat experts issued a warning that there will be a
shortage of British beef and lamb until 2003 because so many of the
country's animals have been slaughtered.
Economists at the Meat and Livestock Commission yesterday predicted that the
UK may have to import about a third of its red meat because of shortages
caused by the foot-and-mouth crisis, which has seen 720,000 cattle culled
Last year 22pc of the beef consumed in the United Kingdom was imported while
in the current year that could increase to nearer one third.
Farmer Adrian Matthews, from East Bog Farm, Bardon Mill, Northumberland, has
a field full of ewe lambs near Hadrian's Wall, which should have been sold
this autumn to lowland farmers and those living further down south.
But although he has buyers ready for his prize-winning sheep, he is unable
to move them from his farm, which is running low on grass.
His frustration is increased by the fact that he can't even take them to his
other farm in Cumbria about five miles away, where there is an abundance of
grass, because the Government has forbidden any movements across the border.
But if he gets rid of these sheep on the animal welfare scheme, he will lose
out by more than #20 a lamb.
He said: "The Government is paying #10 a lamb under the welfare scheme but
most breeding sheep are worth at least #30. Yet the Government is paying
about #60 for the same sheep if they are culled because of foot-and- mouth."
The Newcastle Disease Emergency Centre said: "Our objective is to maximise
impact on the disease with minimal impact on farmers. That is a balancing
Tonight's joke comes from Astrid:
A toy rabbit was given to a spy's young daughter, and the rabbit, which was
fitted with a micro chip voice recorder, went with them on spying missions.
The spy became puzzled that the recording always gave an innacurate report
when he played it in the plane en route back to the UK. He took the rabbit
back to the scientist who programmed it, and said "Why is it that the
recording always tells the truth when I get back for de-briefing, yet while
we are in the air, just before we arrive back in England, it always seems to
give a false report?" "It's simple" explained the scientist. "My bunny lies
over the ocean."
from Alan & Rosie