The government's announcement that the entire UK sheep flock could be
slaughtered if BSE is found has prompted Ley to respond:

Can someone explain why this government has such a
phobia about sheep?
These rumours about wiping out the national flock are
not new but they seemed to have gone quiet. I am
totally beside myself! Warmwell points out that the
criteria are completely unscientific but whenever did
that put these retards off?
Can anybody say for example why there is a contingency
plan to eradicate all sheep which have never ever
caused any problems but no plan to eradicate all
cattle which (arguably) may have?
I sincerely and seriously believe we have to put
together a contingency plan of our own in case this
goes ahead.
I'm pleased the RBST has actually reacted - will they
now get mobilised?


And a wider-ranging respopnse from Diana (who tends to read several days'
messages in one go):

Where do I begin? Let's start with your last item - the Defra newsletter. I
tried and failed to make sense of the licence scheme, thankful that I
shouldn't need it. However I had only just been approached by someone who
wondered if they would be allowed to borrow a ram from Cornwall. After
reading the newsletter my only thought was "rather you than me"! What did
seize my attention was the last thing you picked up on - after making it
almost impossible for you to move your stock, they then have the cheek to
say it will be YOUR FAULT if your animals suffer welfare problems! Yet again
I was rendered speechless.

Lawrence's thoughts on germ warfare had also occurred to me. Some "expert"
on the radio explained that a germ warfare attack would only gradually
affect the population, as more people than usual found themselves visiting
the doctor with flu-like symptons. The "germ" would most probably be a virus
which, once released, would spread by normal means through the population.
My thoughts went at once to foot and mouth, and especially the way it keeps
popping up in unexpected places. The only reason I would discount
international terrorism from being responsible is that this "epidemic" suits
the government's agenda too well. If it is being deliberately spread, we
need to look nearer to home for the culprit.

On the subject of blood testing, if this is a cattle strain of FMD why are
they testing the sheep and not the cattle? Surely it should be the other way
round? I put this thought to a dairy farmer who replied that we didn't need
to test the cattle because it would be obvious if they had FMD - they did
not carry it like the sheep. I asked him how he could be so sure. If they
don't blood test the cattle, how do they know none are "carriers"? It could
be the cattle infecting the sheep at "turn out", not the other way round.

As for slaughtering 40m sheep ..... This idea of the sheep carrying BSE was
dropped quietly on the British public a few weeks ago, perhaps to gauge
reaction? I was very unsettled by it at the time, wondering just what they
were leading up to. Now we know, don't we? Can anyone out there tell me why
they hate sheep so much? As Roger just pointed out, we all know cows catch
BSE, but they haven't suggested wiping out ALL our cattle.

Did you see the article in the Western Morning News, indicating that around
#60m, earmarked for rural business's who are floundering from the effects of
FMD, may now be snatched back to help London tourism, which is suffering
after the terrorist attacks? It really sums up the contempt with which this
government views the countryside and those who live and work in it.

Lastly, a comment unrelated to FMD, following Jane's mention of the problems
women have with foot trimmers. I use a pair of lamb's foot trimmers. They
are smaller than others and shaped for my hand, and cope with even the
toughest old ram's feet. Well worth the purchase!

All for now - Diana.


Our comment:   "It could be the cattle infecting sheep at turn-out, not the
other way around"  Diana points out - and yes, there is evidence to support
this from none other than our favourite chemist, Professor David King, who
famously admitted that despite the cattle in Cumbria not being vaccinated
prior to turn-out, as he had advocated in April, many of these herds went
down with FMD anyway whilst still inside.  These most certainly did not
catch FMD from "hidden disease" in the "silent shedders" of the sheep flocks
etc., but of course, new infections arising in those herds AFTER turn-out
WERE immediately blamed on the sheep, although the evidence shows that the
flow of infection was the other way around, i.e. from cattle to sheep and
from cattle to cattle.
Furthermore, if DEFRA are supposed to be concerned about the "risk" from
carriers, cattle pose a longer term threat to our hallowed FMD-free status
than sheep, since they can remain as carriers for up to 3 years compared to
around nine months maximium for sheep.  So why aren't they testing the
cattle?  Because they don't want to risk finding the antibodies that are
almost certainly there  -  or can you think of any other rational

#                            #                         #

Sara leads off about all the injustices of this crisis and then continues
with this item:

I could go on and on but here is something I read from organic gardening.
The RSPB has come up with a new report that states that the countryside
would be better off without farming!! They call for the return of 400,000
acres to their natural state by the year 2020. The FMD has shown us that
tourism is much more important economically to the countryside than
agriculture and the restoration of habitat is not only essential for
wildlife but is the key to the regeneration of the countryside.
What do you think of that then????
No doubt I'll get angry again at tonight's newsletter so thank you for the


Our comment:   We have a long-standing mistrust of the RSPB and resigned our
membership fifteen years ago in protest at their blatant hypocrisy on rural
conservation issues.  They have grown too big, too cumbersome, too remote
from the membership they are supposed to represent ( hang on, this could be
the NFU!) and we cannot take their pronouncements seriously.  Their main
concern seems to be increasing membership levels and income to justify the
bureaucracy that they have created . . . . when you see adverts for
cat-litter appearing in the glossy magazine, it's time to forget it.

#                            #                         #

There is excitement in California as DEFRA reply to Bonnie's letter:

So. After throwing the gauntlet down in yesterday's letter to you, I got my
own first challenge: a reply from DEFRA to my letter of July 31, protesting
the cull of the Brecon Beacons sheep.  It's a two pager, no less.  Classic
DEFRA.  As I settle down to read it, I'm reassured that my comments have
been "noted by the department."  However, they seem to have shed no light on
DEFRA's dank and writhing pit of rationalizing. (Like that, Alan?) Here's
what their letter assures me:

1. "Allowing the widespread transmission of the disease throughout the
country would be economically disastrous for the livestock farming sector,
and would present very serious animal welfare problems for the UK's 55
million sheep, cattle and pigs."  Alan? Rosie? Have you settled down yet?
Stopped laughing? Should I proceed?

2. The Government has had to take a very tough approach to contain the
disease, but does not slaughter animals unnecessarily."  Please!  Quiet
down. A little order here! Let me continue.  "The strain of FMD in this
outbreak is highly virulent, and a single infected animal is able to infect
a large number of others."  Rosie, I can't see.   Is that steam filling the
room coming out of your ears?

To tell you the truth, if I had not personally spoken to so many people
whose animals HAD been slaughtered unnecessarily, I would tend, as a normal,
rational being, to think, Well, maybe that's true. Government acts on our
own behalf. Maybe this strain IS so entirely, outrageously virulent
that...But no.  This statement has the kind of truth you can only believe if
you have no experience of what they speak.  Sort of like Reefer
Madness--remember that one?  I never saw it, but we get the idea.

Then comes the clincher paragraph.  "Antibodies to Foot and Mouth Disease
virus are not found in stock which have not been exposed to the virus (or to
a vaccine made from the virus, which is not used or available in this
country). All stock nationally can therefore be expected to be negative to
serological tests, unless they have been exposed to the virus at some
stage."  Here, was I reading  between the lines? Were they really saying
that only animals who had never been exposed to the virus could be allowed
to live?  As if, in order to prove the disease had never been here at all
(We are the clean men) all animals exposed, recovered and in any way
associated w the words Foot and Mouth must be erased from the land.
"Sheep, in particular, when exposed to infection may carry the virus for
prolonged periods and can potentially spread it to other animals after some
months.  Such sheep would carry both the virus (sic) and would be positive
for antibody tests."  And...?

"When we find positive antibody tests for Food and Mouth Disease, this means
both that the animals have been exposed to the virus and that they may
themselves still be infectious to others."  All the rest is all the rest
about the strong, immediate action, how they are aware of the economic
consequences (esp to the Brecon Beacons) and how they are already "in
discussions" w the EU about reintroducing sheep there.

Then they proceed to outright lie:  "The Government has always made it clear
that vaccination remains an option..." etc. etc. ad nauseum.

I take this letter as a well-timed quizz and perfect example of the kind of
errors and lies I said yesterday everybody must rise to correct.  Gulp.
Now, Alan and Rosie...what's the best thing to do?  Shall I take a stab at
my own response, given the education I got with you at Bristol?   Shall we
compose a collective response that everyone else could use, w best
attributes, etc?

Obviously, this letter to me is of no importance to DEFRA at all, nor is my
response.  But it is useful to all of us in that it offers their excuse for
what they're doing, for all to refute.

Weather here: hot.  Crops to get in: Walnuts.  Strange new phenomenon cited
just yesterday: Drive thru pharmacy.  (Honey? Got your viagra?  Screech!
Turn left here!)




Our comment:   "Were they really saying that only animals who had never been
exposed to the virus could be allowed
to live?"   -   Answer, Yes that is what DEFRA are saying.  It is THE
POLICY.  All sheep with antibodies must be slaughtered (but not cattle,
despite their ability to remain as carriers for much longer, 'cos they're
not even testing them).

Why?  We turn to a previous message from Andrew King of Pirbright, who in
fairness does not set the policy but has explained it in the following

 "some sheep continue for several months to shed small amounts of
infectious virus into the throat without showing any symptoms. The same is
true of cattle, which can carry the disease for up to three years.
Admittedly, it is difficult to prove experimentally that such carrier
animals are actually capable of infecting others, but there is
circumstantial (epidemiological) evidence to suggest that they do, and MAFF,
and all regulatory authorities everywhere, base their policy on the
assumption that they do. They have to. There is too much at stake not to!"

There is, as we hope you all know by now, only one documented case worldwide
of a carrier animal causing new infection in others.  But there is
circumstantial evidence that this happens in the field in extremely rare
cases, where it seems to be the explanation for otherwise unexplained
disease cropping up.  The risk is impossible to quantify, except to say that
it is vanishingly small, but as this risk is assumed to exist - and we
stress, this cannot be demonstrated scientifically, despite considerable
effort in laboratories worldwide  -  so it must be eliminated, say DEFRA.
That is why all sheep with antibodies are slaughtered.  Then, and only then,
DEFRA can say to the OIE and the EU "Look! we have no potential carrier
sheep left with antibodies, therefore there is no risk whatsoever of FMD
recrudescence, therefore the UK is FMD-free."

Even DEFRA must know that this is complete rubbish - but they must play by
the political rules that govern FMD-free status, or "suffer the economic

We will respond personally to Bonnie - please feel free to contribute your
own ideas on this.

#                              #                             #

The Warmwell website posts this extract from Magnus Linklater in the Times:

Save us from Morley's crazy sheep

The Times

There is, of course, no BSE in sheep, but Mr Morley and his department, the
dreaded Defra, have decided that there might be, and, should the worst come
to the worst, all Britains 40 million sheep may have to be slaughtered. In
vain does Mr Morley now claim that this is a worst-case scenario the
damage has been done, and morale among sheep farmers, already rock bottom,
sinks into the slurry pit of despair. I do not know if any of this conforms
to Mr Blairs idea of defending our way of life. He has doubtless been too
busy to consider it. In these circumstances, one might have thought that
ministers would strain every sinew to bolster confidence, to stand
should-to-shoulder with those who live and work in rural areas, or at least
to show some understanding of the problems they are grappling with. This
Government, however, has neither instinct nor sympathy for the countryside.
Sept 29


From the Newcastle Journal:

Villagers lift veil of FMD secrecy Sep 28 2001

By Dave Black, The Journal

Villagers living near a mass foot-and-mouth disposal site have won an
important victory in their latest battle with Defra officials over alleged

Local people are to be formally consulted about plans to restore and make
safe the carcase burial site at Widdrington, Northumberland where more than
134,000 slaughtered animals are buried in pits.

They have been fighting for months to be allowed to see the restoration
plans amid fears that the legacy of the burial operations could mean health
risks and problems of foul smells for years to come.

Now Defra has withdrawn from its previous insistence that the plans are
confidential and should not be opened up for public scrutiny.

Northumberland County Council will now consult with local community
representatives, as well as technical experts and the Environment Agency, on
the safety and suitability of the restoration scheme.

Villagers yesterday welcomed the decision but said it had only been achieved
because of their efforts to ensure the plans were not kept secret.

Complaints of secrecy by Defra have re-surfaced in the past week after work
to excavate and re-bury carcases at the burial site was carried out without
the knowledge of local people.

That followed the revelation that 600 tonnes of ash-laden material was being
removed from the foot-and-mouth pyre site near Widdrington months after
locals had assumed the work had been completed.

The restoration plans for the burial site were submitted to the county
council by Defra earlier this month, marked confidential.

Following pressure for public consultation from Widdrington county
councillor James Grant and council planning officer Mary Campbell, Defra has
agreed to back down.

Coun Grant said: "Defra has claimed for some time that the plans were being
kept confidential at the landowner's request but when I contacted UK Coal I
was told they were happy to go along with whatever the county council wanted
to do.

"We will always have 134,000 carcases buried at Widdrington and it was
ludicrous to suggest that local people should not be consulted about plans
to seal, restore and monitor the site.

"This victory for openness has only been achieved because we refused to
accept Defra's stance that the plans were confidential. There is too much
secrecy and because we pushed as a community, with help from the county
council, we have managed to get access to the proposals and have our say."

Mary Campbell said: "I welcome the fact that we will be able to consult
about these proposals because, although planning permission is not required,
we need to ensure that the restoration of the site is safe and
environmentally acceptable."

A Defra spokesman said last night the landowner had asked that the
restoration plans should not be made a matter of public consultation.

However, knowing that the county council wanted to make them public, Defra
officials had now sought and obtained approval from UK Coal for

Defra is awaiting legal advice on whether it needs to formally submit
restoration plans for the pyre site to the county council.

Blue Box movement rules 'driving farmers out of business'

By Anna Lognonni

Farmers in the Allendale Blue Box foot-and-mouth security zone say their
businesses have been effectively shut down because of the strict anti-FMD
restrictions imposed on them.

Under Defra rules, farmers cannot move any animals on or off their farms for
15 days, even if they are going direct to slaughter, if there has been a
case of foot-and-mouth within 10km.

This means that during this time they cannot make any income and they say
the restrictions are increasing welfare problems caused by overcrowding of

After 15 days has passed, farmers can send their animals direct to slaughter
to an abattoir within the greater infected area but the only local
slaughterhouse available to them is Jewitts of Spennymoor.

And farmers living within 3km of a confirmed case can only send their
animals to an abattoir within the Blue Box. But there isn't a slaughterhouse
in the Allendale biosecurity zone so all those farmers are shut down for a

National Sheep Association chairman David Smith, from Haydon Bridge, said:
"They are effectively stopping a large proportion of Northumberland farmers
from operating and slowly starving them out of business.

"I can't understand why animals are not able to go direct to the
slaughterhouse and banning such movements places even more pressure on
farmers' incomes and animal welfare."

Many farmers are desperate to get their cattle away because they want to
free up their sheds to bring in their breeding cows for the winter.

Sheep farmers need to get their lambs away because they are running low on

Licences are also needed to move animals from farm to farm but animals
cannot move either in or out of the Blue Box or in or out of the county.

Defra last night reported that there had been no new cases of foot-and-mouth
in the Allendale security zone for the third day running.


Tonight's joke comes from son Martin:

Where does Saddam Hussein keep his CD's?

In Iraq

(try reading it aloud)

from Alan & Rosie