For: HIZZA Even Newer Muckspreader July 4


What might be called "the tale of two videos" may give a clue to yet another vicious little trick being planned for farmers by the ever inventive officials of the Department for Eliminating Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra). The first video, commissioned by Defra itself at a cost of £750,000, is being sent out to 90,000 farmers to tell them how to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth disease by making sure they observe strict 'biosecurity' at all times. Chief vet Jim Scudamore plays a starring role, as farmers are given the startlingly novel advice that they must keep their farms, clothes and vehicles disinfected, and wash their hands as often as possible. One clue as to the game behind this splashing out of taxpayers' money came with the accompanying Defra spin that "government experts believe farmers are largely to blame for spreading the disease by failing to take adequate precautions".

The second video, costing rather less, was made last month by a north Yorkshire farmer Frank Wrathall the day after he had lost all his healthy dairy herd and sheep under the illegal "contiguous cull" rules. When ministry trucks came to cart off his dead animals to Cumbria, he filmed one vehicle arriving straight from the death pit covered with "animal excrement and the usual seepage associated with dead stock", obviously not disinfected. But papers signed by Defra officials certified that the vehicle was clean.

Mr Wrathall was outraged. He and his family, including three small children, had been so strict in observing all the hygiene rules that for nearly a month they had not dared move off the farm, for fear of bringing back the virus. He had heard from neighbours that Defra officials were being notoriously casual about 'biosecurity' rules. But here on his camcorder was the proof, only made worse by those fraudulent certificates.

Of course it is not only from north Yorkshire that similar tales have abounded in recent weeks. From Cumbria and Dumfries to Devon, farmers have been astonished by the almost routine laxness of Maffia/Defra officials and employees towards the most basic hygiene precautions. There have been so many stories of vets arriving from infected premises onto clean farms without changing their clothes or even bothering to disinfect their boots - let alone of trucks loaded with dripping carcases of infected animals cheerfully driving through whole tracts of uninfected countryside - that farmers began to wonder whether it was deliberate ministry policy to spread the disease.

But what they also noticed, ever since it first became clear back in March that FMD was out of control, was how regularly government spokesmen, from Tony Blair and Nick Brown down, went out of their way to suggest the reason why the disease was spreading was that farmers themselves might not be observing strict "biosecurity". As early as April shrewd observers were putting two and two together. Obviously this was the Maffia's game. Since it was obvious that the ministry's mass-slaughter policy was not working and that FMD was likely to be around for months and possibly years to come, the aim was to set up the farmers as the fall-guys. As even the ministry's fudged figures continue their horrifying upward spiral, stand by for ever more official claims that the only people to blame are the farmers themselves, But as you hear them, remember Frank Wrathall's video. Therein lies the story.