Nov 11 (2001)~ (Mr Morley) ........ At the present time, we do not have powers for a fire break cull. There was the three kilometre cull in Cumbria but that was a voluntary cull and people were invited to participate in that.
But at the Select Committee hearing last Tuesday when Mr Morley said this, his memory played him false. The farmers in Cumbria were certainly "invited" to give up their sheep to be killed - but if they refused they received a letter that curtly informed them that MAFF had arbitrarily termed them DCs.. ..."According to our records you were not willing to give up your sheep. This letter is to advise you what arrangements are now being put in place to include your sheep in the cull. In the infected area, sheep, goats and pigs within 3 km of an infected premises will be treated as Dangerous Contacts. This means that the Ministry of Agriculture will make arrangements for your sheep to be slaughtered on the farm." Mr Morley is quite right in saying that MAFF had no powers to impose a firebreak cull, but quite wrong in thinking that they did not therefore impose it.
The letter to farmers about the "voluntary cull" MAFF Northern Regional service Centre,
Eden Bridge House, Lowther Street, Cumbria, CA3 6DX April 2001
Dear .....(farmer's name)
In March the Minister for Agriculture announced that all sheep in the 3km zones around an infected premises in certain areas of Cumbria must be slaughtered. This was following the advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer and MAFFF's scientific advisers who believe that sheep within these zones will have been exposed to infection. They also believe that by slaughtering these sheep the impact of the spread of the disease will be reduced.
Following consultation with members of the NFU a decision was made to remove sheep from farms in the 3km zones to a central place for slaughter. This gave farmers the opportunity to avoid the slaughter of sheep on their own premises and enabled the slaughter of about 20,000 sheep a day without impacting heavily on the available resources. To this end local auction marts contacted farmers in the 2km zones and invited them to give up their sheep. Arrangements were then made for the sheep to be valued, collected and slaughtered.
According to our records you were not willing to give up your sheep. This letter is to advise you what arrangements are now being put in place to include your sheep in the cull.
In the infected area, sheep, goats and pigs within 3 km of an infected premises will be treated as Dangerous Contacts. This means that the Ministry of Agriculture will make arrangements for your sheep to be slaughtered on the farm. Compensation will be paid for your sheep.
If you have reason to believe that your flock has not been exposed to infection it may be possible to arrange for them to be subjected to repeated serological surveillance to confirm your beliefs. You will need to contact your local veterinary surgeon and ask him at your expense, to visit your flock and make a submission to the Senior Veterinary Officer at Hadrian House Carlisle. He will need to include in his submission arguments why your flock, or part of it, should be exempt from the cull. He will need to prove that they have been isolated from other stock and high levels of bio-security have been sustained since the end of February. These cases will be referred to MAFF Head Office.
If rather than have your sheep slaughtered on farm you would like them to be taken away for slaughter please phone 01228 590490 and ask for Mark Lawson or Michael Armstrong. they will arrange for your sheep to be valued and transported to Great Orton or Carlisle Abattoir for slaughter.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS