An appeal for help and support for the forthcoming farmers
fund-raising event at Westpoint (Exeter) on the weekend of October
* Bookings now being taken for the Farmers Market from 10 am Sunday, costs
#5 a pitch
* Bookings now being taken for trade/crafts/collectibles stands - price
* An organiser is needed for the children's field
* Does anyone have, or know of, marquees that could be loaned for the event?
For any information/bookings, please ring Ro on 01837 810326
Betty has forwarded this reaction to the "Moredun papers" that were included
in yesterday's message:
Subject: Moredun Papers
Date: 6-9-2001 12:04:28
When the history of this wretched business comes to be written - in a
generation or so (anything closer in time will lack objectivity) there
will be a fair number of villains and some heroes.
Without doubt among the villains will be the research side of the Vet
profession - a group who after six months are still incapable of even
approaching a solution to the problem or a cure for the disease or
anything more subtle than killing both the sufferers and those who might
be sufferers if they are allowed to live.
For them must be reserved the greatest contempt - they have predicted and
their preditions have been proved wrong; they have built computer models
and the models have been worthless; they have pontificated from error to
Now - thanks to Robin - we are able to see how one of Scotlands research
vet intitutes views this catalogue of incompetence.It is set out in the
paper he copied to the group.
It is a paper which reeks with smug self satisfaction and patronises the
victims of the author's wretched complacency.
How kind of him to note of those who stock he has killed that they
"......(often) have a deep and emotional bond" with their stock - who
else but a patronising,incompetent failure could dare to talk of farmers
like that before scuttling back to his office to congratulate himself and
wait for his OBE.
Where in that paper is there any contrition for failing to devise any
other means of escape from this scourge, where is there any regret for
what they have not done, where is there any fresh thinking for the
where is there any hope that these celestial beings who are elevated
the level of the humble farmer or front line vet can devise any
alternative to the killing.
If the same attitude applied to childhood diseases - mumps,rubella etc
nurseries would be empty and our race destroyed - but its alright cos its
confined only to dumb animals.
Thank you Robin for exposing these self satisfied charlatans and
condemning them out of their own mouths.
I forgot to add that if the paper upon which I was commenting is the best
he can do shouldn't Mr (sorry Dr!!) Hugh Reid relinquish his position and
go back to a blameless life of knackering tom cats instead of trying to
get to the cutting edge of vet science for which he is clearly unsuited.
Jane sent in this item from "Country Life" dated 15th January 1943 with the
comment "Do we never learn anything?":
Slaughter of the well-known Aldie herd of shorthorn cattle in Ross-shire
(nearly 500 head including the sheep) draws attention to some disturbing
features of the present outbreak of foot and mouth disease. There have been
16 initial outbreaks since last February which reached their peak during the
summer months, when outbreaks are unusual. There has, too, been a rising
incidence in Scotland, hitherto remarkably immune. These new features
suggest that abnormal factors are operative, and Mr RSG Rutherford, writing
in The Farm Economist, is pessimistic about the immediate prospect.
The causes of outbreaks have never been agreed. Fresh meat and wrapping
materials imported from the continent, are now ruled out automatically: the
use of unboiled swill is also largely exempted, as a causative factor, by
the initial outbreaks having occurred only 3 times among pigs as to 49 among
cattle during the last three years. Among possible causes are the
promiscuous movement of troops, increased movement of livestock to distant
markets, and the rapid expansion of dairy herds leading to lower resistance,
and there are the suspect birds.
The general conclusion must be that increased expenditure on research will
not only be money well invested but, in view of the evidence pointing to the
failure of the slaughter policy since 1930, is now absolutely necessary
Our comment: "the promiscuous movement of troops" may be a new one . . . .
but everything else sounds remarkably familiar, don't you think? As we keep
saying, and is here confirmed once again, FMD is largely a disease of
cattle - not swill-fed pigs, not sheep with "old disease", but cattle in
which new outbreaks were routinely arising at this period in history, and
still are in the current epidemic. As for the "failure of the slaughter
policy since 1930" - nothing has changed there either!
From the Farmers Weekly website:
7 September 2001
MEPs demand foot-and-mouth probe
By FWi staff
THE European Parliament has demanded an investigation into why the
foot-and-mouth epidemic has gone on for so long and what are the cost
MEPs in Strasbourg voted in favour of a resolution calling for the European
Commission and Council to explain the continuation of the British outbreak.
Parliament agreed it was also anxious to know what measures are planned to
control the spread of the disease in the future.
MEPs also demanded a progress report with regard to the possibility of using
new, more effective vaccines and the budgetary cost of any new developments.
Earlier, Conservative MEP Robert Sturdy said an inquiry should cover meat
imports, alternative methods of control and compensation for farmers.
The re-emergence of the disease in Northumberland and cooler weather
increased the risk of foot-and-mouth crossing to mainland Europe again, he
"The EU must ensure it takes the most effective preventative action and the
best way to determine what this should be is a full-scale inquiry."
7 September 2001
Ministers prepare more virus controls
By FWi staff
MINISTERS are preparing to sanction more draconian measures in a bid to
prevent the full-scale resurgence of foot-and-mouth disease.
Officials fear the number of foot-and-mouth cases around Northumberland will
more than double before the disease is brought under control.
Epidemiologists grimly predict that 50 cases could be confirmed within the
cluster before F&M is eradicated, FARMERS WEEKLY has learned.
The number of cases in the area currently stands at 19. Thousands of
livestock on over 100 farms have been slaughtered. Almost 400 farms are
But experts are no nearer tracing the source of the outbreak in the region.
Officials banned all animal movements within a 6100-square-mile "red box"
area covering Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire on Wednesday (5 September).
Divisional veterinary manager Arthur Griffiths said existing movement
licences would be revoked and no new licences issued for at least 21 days.
But a draft Emergency Instruction obtained by FARMERS WEEKLY reveals that
similar measures are being considered for Devon and Powys.
The document is from the government's Animal Welfare Veterinary Team.
It warns that the "risk of hidden disease is greater in those counties which
have had a heavy weight of infection."
The revelation is likely to anger farmers who believe inadequate clean-up
operations threaten to thwart efforts to bring foot-and-mouth under control.
After Britain's last major outbreak of the disease in 1967, 18 farms were
re-infected despite being disinfected prior to restocking.
This time around, cleansing has been completed on only 2600 farms out of
9000 where livestock were slaughtered, claims the National Farmers' Union.
The next few weeks will be crucial for the survival of many farmers, said
NFU county chairman Malcolm Corbett. He added: "We are sitting on a
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) admitted that
experts had not yet traced the source of the Northumberland cluster.
But a DEFRA spokesman refused to speculate on the final number of cases.
"We have had two days recently when there haven't been any cases but then
the disease has flared up again. We are not going to talk numbers."
Our comment: Yesterday our favourite Professor said that the Northumberland
outbreak was due to "old disease in sheep". This report says that "experts"
don't know the source of the outbreak. Presumably this proves that
Professor King is not an expert . . .
7 September 2001
Live auctions 'on verge of collapse'
By FWi staff
BRITAIN'S livestock trading system is on the verge of collapse after
ministers backtracked on a decision to allow animal movements between farms.
Industry leaders issued the warning following a new rule banning gatherings
of more than two people on holdings connected with livestock sales.
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:
"We just want to make it clear that farm livestock sales are not allowed."
Equipment sales would be unaffected by the amendment but those gatherings
must also take place with strict biosecurity measures, he added.
Livestock Auctioneers' Association chairman Peter Kingwill said live sales
were essential, especially for farmers leaving the industry after
He added: "If we are not careful it will soon start raining and we will have
a welfare disaster that makes the spring one pale into insignificance."
(our comment: What happens if we ARE careful? Will it not rain then?)
Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty is said to have had second thoughts
about livestock sales following advice from Chief Scientific Officer David
Prof King has already persuaded the government to urgently re-tighten
livestock movement restrictions in a bid to halt the spread of
Officials banned all animal movements within a 6100-square-mile "red box"
area covering Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire on Wednesday (5 September).
The decision represented a climb-down for the government which only 10 days
ago made moves to allow a limited trade in livestock between farms.
National Sheep Association chairman David Smith said: "Unless we help those
who are uninfected the whole livestock trading system will break down."
Earlier, National Farmers' Union spokesman Rob Simpson said restrictions had
driven the industry into turmoil: "Farmers don't know which way to turn."
From the Telegraph:
Dutch vet fights the EU orgy of slaughter
The policy against foot and mouth vaccination is under pressure, writes
Charles Clover in Arnhem. PETER POLL, a small animals vet recalled from
retirement during Holland's foot and mouth outbreak, is an unlikely
revolutionary. But the uprising he has begun could end the orgy of slaughter
that is Europe's way of fighting the disease. Dr Poll, 68, worked for the
Dutch government during the vaccination and slaughter of 260,000 animals in
Holland after an outbreak of cases on 26 farms last March. But he now says
that if the policy of slaughtering vaccinated animals remained, he would not
do so again. Dr Poll is not alone. He and 10 other vets have tabled a motion
for a meeting of the Royal Dutch Veterinary Association on Oct 6 warning
that the profession would go on strike if slaughter on the scale seen this
year - 10,000 animals per case of infection, compared with 1,900 per case in
Britain - were called for again. To Dr Poll's delight, his motion has been
accepted by his professional body with one small amendment. It is likely to
win majority support.The vets' revolt has stiffened the resolve of the Dutch
government, which is already seeking - with the support of Holland's main
farming union - to persuade Brussels to change the rules governing the
eradication of the disease to allow vaccinated animals to live and their
meat and milk to be consumed. Vaccination has proved popular in Holland as
it stopped the foot and mouth outbreak in two weeks.
But the subsequent slaughter of thousands of inoculated but healthy animals
has caused widespread revulsion. Unlike in Britain, where the Government's
policy of all-out slaughter has met with only muted criticism from the
RSPCA, the slaughter drew criticism from animal welfare groups.
The EU's Standing Veterinary Committee currently rules that vaccination may
be used to damp down outbreaks. But all vaccinated animals must be
slaughtered, or a year must elapse, before trade with other countries may
resume. ...The (Dutch) decision to vaccinate was taken partly to "damp down"
the outbreak and partly because the government foresaw difficulties
disposing of thousands of carcasses all at once. It chose vaccination so it
could kill the animals in slaughterhouses instead of on farms and dispose of
them through rendering plants. The result, though tastefully removed from
public sight, was carnage on a scale five times greater per case than in
Britain. There were riots when officials notified farmers they would have
their livestock vaccinated and then slaughtered. .........
It was assumed then that paying to slaughter in the event of an outbreak
every 10 years would be cheaper than the cost of vaccinating as a matter of
course; the cost of slaughter and disposal has turned out to be five times
higher than assumed. The Dutch Farmers' Union is equally adamant that the
policy of vaccination and slaughter must be abandoned. Siamyjan Schenk, the
chairman of the union's cattle division, said:
"It is an ethical problem.
.............Farmers concede this would have major implications, such as an
end to the trade in livestock products with America. Jan Markink, a pig
farmer and chairman of the union's pig division in the region where the
disease broke out, said:
"European trade with the United States is perhaps five or six per cent of
the market. Losing five or six per cent of trade is better than losing all
of it with each other."
Our comment: We are less than happy with the statistical presentation used
in the above argument. To talk of 10,000 animals slaughtered per infected
premises, and five times as many as in the UK per case, is a travesty. The
significant figure is that 260,000 were slaughtered in total, compared to -
well, who knows how many millions in the UK and its not over yet. The Dutch
lost quarter of a million, the UK has lost maybe 8 million so far and still
rising. They stopped the disease in one month, we have allowed it to run on
for over six months. In a war, the final body count is what matters, not
some statistical wizardry.
And if they hadn't decided to slaughter the vaccinates, the Dutch would have
lost only 60,000 animals . . . . . .
From the Telegraph:
LORRY-LOADS of rotting carcasses are once again trundling towards Tow Law
burial site. Foot and mouth has swept back into Northumberland. County
Durham has had its first case in three months. Cumbria is still pocked with
the pestilence. After 2,000 outbreaks, the beasts slaughtered number almost
four million. Five months ago, the government chief scientist, Professor
David King, said that foot and mouth was fully under control. The chief vet
Jim Scudamore's computer model showed that new cases would be one a day by
May. Now unrepentant government advisers predict the last case before
Christmas. Why should we believe them this time? The sun is the great enemy
of the virus, which thrives in the cold. Damp autumnal days could see the
start of a long winter campaign. Even if the virus is contained by
Christmas, we still have no firm idea how our livestock ever became
infected. There has been no tightening of Customs regulations. If Britain
continues to import food and farm animals from contagious countries, the
virus could slip back in. The public is unlikely to tolerate another
massacre of healthy animals on the scale of this year.
It therefore seems sensible to test an alternative weapon - ring
vaccination - first suggested in the 1967 report into the disease. Ring
vaccination was used in Holland in March. Combined with rapid culling, it
appears to have worked. Dutch farmers are exporting again. Ring vaccination
has been backed by the Soil Association, the tourism industry, many vets and
an increasing number of disillusioned farmers. Consumer groups have now
recognised that vaccinated meat isn't dangerous; we eat meat vaccinated
against other diseases. Last week the Government's rural advocate, Ewen
Cameron, chairman of the Countryside Agency, said that the outbreak had cost
#4 billion, and testing ring vaccination had become imperative. The NFU
argues that it can see "no reason" to test vaccination during an epidemic.
But when else can it be utilised? It may be too late to be effective this
time, but if the vaccine was used to fight the virus in even one infected
county, it could give invaluable research material for future outbreaks.
EU ministers meet this October to discuss ring vaccination without
slaughter. The proposal is being pushed by French, German and Dutch farmers.
It would be strange if we were the only country opposing a measure that
could help us more than anyone else.
Even if the EU doesn't back the proposal, Britain has little to lose. Its
disease-free status has already gone up in smoke.
When Margaret Beckett, in charge of the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs, finally returns from her caravanning holiday, she should
initiate a trial immediately. Sept 6
Our comment: Whilst the overall tone of this piece is welcome, we cannot
condone the references to "trials" and "experiments" with ring vaccination.
This is simply nonsense when the technique is used around the world and has
been in use for more than forty years. How many times do you need to
"experiment" to prove what is already well-established fact? The UK simply
needs to listen to the advice of international experts who actually deal
with FMD in the field, instead of to chemists and UK vets who are still
living in the 1960's.
From the BBC website:
Fresh calls for farm virus vaccination
Nearly four million animals have been killed so far
A leading expert in foot-and-mouth disease has added his weight to calls to
vaccinate animals in the UK against the virus.
Professor Fred Brown, who helped the government tackle the last serious
outbreak of the disease in 1967, will back the move in a speech at the
British Association Science Festival in Glasgow.
At Friday's foot-and-mouth, session Professor Brown, visiting scientist at
the Plum Island laboratories, the US Animal Health Institute, will say the
epidemic is out of control.
He believes the time to vaccinate is now because the virus will become more
virulent as temperatures drop.
Scientists believe that in the hot summer, the virus that spreads the
disease dries up within a few days. But in colder weather, it can stay
infectious for weeks or even months.
Professor Brown told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that falling numbers of
new cases were an opportunity for vaccination.
He said: "Vaccination does work - just look at the record when they
vaccinated in Europe. The number of outbreaks dropped dramatically and
"It would cut down the virus load. Even if a vaccinated animal became
infected the amount of virus produced would be much, much lower and there
would be less virus to disseminate."
Professor Brown said there were tests to distinguish animals with the
disease from those that had been vaccinated.
He said: "I would have gone for it just as soon as it was clear that the
disease was not under control."
"Division has been based on the trading stance that vaccinated animals are
not acceptable. It is about economics; it isn't about disease control."
But the UK Government's chief scientific adviser, Professor David King,
believes the current virus is not so temperature sensitive.
He believes the current epidemic is nearly beaten and vaccination could be
Professor Brown is one of the world's most experienced and respected
foot-and-mouth experts and has worked on the disease since 1955.
(OUR ADDITION: Professor David King is NOT one of the worlds most
experienced and respected foot and mouth experts and has worked on the
disease since February 2001)
During the UK's previous outbreak in 1967, Professor Brown was deputy head
at the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright, where reserves of vaccines
against foot-and-mouth are stored.
But Professor Brown believes the government has not learned from the past
and is more concerned about the animal export market than controlling the
On Thursday, Professor King blamed farmers for preventing a vaccination plan
in April, which he said could possibly have halted the disease in Cumbria,
one of the worst-hit areas.
And on Wednesday, the Institute of Directors accused the government of
mishandling the crisis by failing to implement vaccination.
It said vaccination could have lessened the ferocity of the disease and thus
the knock-on effect on other businesses.
The argument over vaccination has rumbled on in the UK almost since the
first confirmed case of the disease in February.
Supporters say it could be used as a replacement or additional weapon to the
culling policy. But farmers say vaccinated animals can still carry the virus
and pass it on, without showing any symptoms - so jabs could worsen the
outbreak in the long run.
Farmers are also concerned about damage to the export trade as many
countries, such as the US, will not allow imports of vaccinated meat and
Our comment: To listen to Fred Brown's interview on Radio 4's Today
programme, click on the link below:
From the Times:
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 07 2001
Blair's foot-and-mouth policy must be culled
The foot-and-mouth epidemic has returned to ravage northern England. It is
another bitter chapter in a tragic saga. But I can lay one calumny to rest.
The Government does not have an "open mind" on vaccination as the remedy.
Its mind is completely closed. It is in favour of vaccination.
Senior officials throughout Whitehall are screaming for vaccination. The
Treasury wants it, as does every relevant permanent secretary. The majority
of the scientific committee is for it. Vets from the West Country to Cumbria
are protesting at the present "needless slaughter". In Downing Street, Tony
Blair and his aides cannot understand why farmers are not vaccinating. At
daily meetings of the emergency committee, Cobra, there is shouting, arguing
So why are they not vaccinating? Why, last April when the disease was
clearly out of control, did they not vaccinate? Why did vaccination not
start after Mr Blair sacked the Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown, for being
too pro-farmer and a propagandist against vaccination? Why was there no
trial vaccination as each new hotspot erupted, at Settle and Thirsk, in the
Brecon Beacons or now in Northumberland? As costs soar and the killing
continues, nobody seems able to bring themselves to do what all admit they
will do next time, which is vaccinate. What anaesthesia runs in the veins of
British government? Why the indecision?
The Government has no intention of answering these questions, so let us try.
The initial slaughter policy was understandable. It had worked in 1967. It
was European policy and was supported by the livestock industry. Its members
wanted slaughter as the fastest way to restore what mattered to them, the
"exportability" of their produce. They knew they could rely on government
compensation. Ministers agreed.
Once begun, the policy was hard to abandon. A "war" had been declared on a
disease that was wrongly labelled a challenge to the nation's wellbeing so
that healthy animals could be culled. The countryside was closed. The Army
was drafted. Ever higher incentives were authorised to induce farmers to
report cases and accept culling. As during any war, the Treasury was
Combating foot-and-mouth was always about money. But at a certain point the
money appears to have cut both ways. The lack of control of compensation
payments in England and Wales (not in Scotland) led to lucky farmers winning
up to three times market value for their animals. It needed only one
dishonest sheep dealer to exploit this incentive for infectivity to run
riot. It did. The Government appeared to have produced a reverse incentive.
In parts of the country that I visited this summer, it paid to be culled.
Two billion pounds of new public money were suddenly swilling round the
countryside. It must be the most extravagant help given by any British
Government to an export industry since the Chinese Opium Wars.
No way can this be called value for public money. To the private sector, the
cost has been appalling. Yesterday the Institute of Directors calculated
that its members had lost an average #125,000, a staggering fine in aid of
farming. Rural small businesses have been devastated. Youth hostels are
close to bankruptcy. The Government's own Countryside Agency estimates rural
losses at #5 billion, its chairman, Ewen Cameron screaming for vaccination.
Some two million healthy animals have been killed.
With each week the policy has become less defensible yet harder to change.
The NFU representatives deserve some sort of trade union medal for holding
the line for their exporters. Their leader, Ben Gill, has treated Cobra as a
snakecharmer might his eponymous serpent, slapping it occasionally to keep
it awake and the money flowing. The NFU has browbeaten government vets into
giving their loyalty to the industry rather than animals. Mr Gill does not
mince words. He has never to my knowledge said thank you to the taxpayer, or
sorry to those he has induced ministers to bankrupt. His industry is used to
getting its way.
The psychology of Cobra has been that of a staff chbteau in the Great War.
Having decided on a strategy of mass slaughter, and found it has failed, the
generals dare not admit they were wrong. Instead they try to validate the
strategy with more of the same. They argue that "one more push" will bring
victory, which is always "just round the corner". They cannot stop to
contemplate the horror of what they are doing. They are trapped by the need
to justify the original policy. The slaughter continues.
A most revealing incident occurred last spring. Cobra had briefly summoned
up the courage to order trial vaccination. Mr Gill had told Mr Blair that he
could never vaccinate without the agreement of farmers but Mr Blair was
inclined to call his bluff. To do so, the Government would have been
well-advised to reverse its incentive regime, and reward vaccination rather
than contiguous culling. But Mr Blair would have had to confront a Treasury
now fiercely, and understandably, opposed to any more compensation to
Mr Blair vacillated. He sent his chief scientist, David King, to Cumbria to
persuade livestock farmers of the folly of the slaughter policy, but he sent
him empty-handed. Had Professor King reassured the farmers that they would
be compensated for vaccinated stock that failed to meet its notional
slaughter value, he might have had a hearing. He was mauled. Farmers
preferred the cheques in their pockets to a different policy that might cost
them dear. They in turn called Mr Blair's bluff.
Since then the NFU and its pocket minister, Lord Whitty, have constantly
intoned that "vaccination means slaughter". It does not. The phrase is code
for "we will not vaccinate unless you pay us as much as you do for
slaughter". Vaccinated animals are healthy, clean and edible. The Dutch did
indeed slaughter vaccinated cattle in the spring, but not because they were
sick or inedible. They slaughtered because farmers demanded it to win a
faster return to marketability.
The reason, again, was money.
Britain may yet have to accept meat vaccinated against foot-and-mouth. It is
no big deal. Beef already contains 18 vaccines. Most of the world, including
Africa, Asia and Latin America, vaccinates against FMD and exports. Mr Blair
was reportedly furious to be told by Mr Gill that vaccinated beef was
unsaleable and unexportable and then to find that British soldiers culling
British cattle on Mr Gill's behalf were eating vaccinated beef from
The truth is that had Mr Blair had the courage to insist on vaccination -
with or without compensation for loss of value - the crisis would almost
certainly be past and at far lower cost. A little joined-up thinking when
the initial policy had failed could have saved billions of pounds in tourist
revenue and stopped the spread of infection across the landscape.
Nothing speaks louder of this error than the refusal of Downing Street to
permit any inquiry into its handling. In March the Prime Minister seized
personal control of the fight against the disease. In doing so he
neutralised the best feature of British government, its openness to internal
debate. He treated what was an act of industrial rescue as if it were a
Mr Blair acted as a control freak with no control. He found himself unable
to mobilise the weight of opinion within government for his preferred policy
of vaccination. He seemed terrified of Mr Gill, leaving it to the Treasury
to take its revenge in the forthcoming farm subsidies review. With no
parliamentary scrutiny, the Prime Minister has never explained to the public
why the interest of one small industry should take precedence over the
entire rural and tourist economy. He has never said why farming should enjoy
such easy access to the Exchequer for costs against which it should have
insured itself. That he disagrees with his own policy is not reason enough.
The betting is that Cobra will again try for vaccination if the new FMD
outbreak in the North Country is not over by the end of October. To win, it
may yet have to stuff Mr Gill's mouth with money. But if vaccination is
right in October, why was it wrong in April? Will we ever know?
from Alan & Rosie