Copy of letter sent to the Western Morning News





I have been reading reports of the end of the foot-and-mouth crisis and receiving emails from friends and acquaintances congratulating us on having escaped infection.

For many weeks now I have been more frightened of MAFFs culling machine than I have been of the disease itself. Studying the figures on MAFFs web site I see no reason for relaxing my guard. MAFF is well aware that it can rely on the average member of the public "switching off" at the mere mention of figures.

Today (15th May) alone there are another 98 farms " on which animals have been or are due to be slaughtered ". But there is only one reported case.

The slaughter figures up to 19.00 hours last night (the latest available) show that there are another 57,000 animals "slaughtered or identified as being for slaughter." With another 38,000 killed "(2,000 cattle and 38,000 sheep).

MAFF seem to be aware that few people are taking much notice of their numbers so they cant always be troubled to make the numbers add up. MAFFs contempt for the public is apparent this week, when yesterday there were suddenly 140 fewer farms affected, and on the 9th May there were 150 fewer.

My observations can only be based on MAFFs figures, as they are all that are available to me, and even on MAFFs revised figures, there were 530 farms with their animals which "have been or are due to be slaughtered" in the week up to tonight. 75 farms a day for the 5 cases a day publicised. 28,000 animals a day killed if you look at the animals slaughtered column, (a total of 196,000 for the week), or just under 30,000 a day (a total of 207.000 for the week) if you add the cattle, sheep and pigs separately.

Am I alone in finding these figures for a "refinement of the contiguous cull policy" deeply troubling? The figures themselves are bad, but one cannot even trust the figures. The daily average slaughter for the week ending 22nd April, for example, was first, 32,000, then 42,000, then 51,000 and the latest figure is 46,000.

Tony Blair is likely to be re-elected with an increased majority. Also on the MAFF web site is the transcript of a press conference on the 3rd May in which he said " We have slaughtered in the course of this Foot and Mouth epidemic still less than about five weeks normal food production. You know we, we slaughter for food production in this country around about thirty million animals a year. And as I was telling a, a meeting a couple of days ago something like fifteen million chickens a week in Britain are, are killed." More figures, figures which show that there is absolutely no realisation that we don't normally eat our breeding stock or dairy cows, and that a bit of meat on a plate can take years to produce not the 5 weeks from egg to table that a battery hen takes.

When I think of what these figures represent, the heart break and despair, the lifetimes' of stockmanship and breeding destroyed, the shattered lives, and then see that MAFF doesn't even seem to know within many thousands how many animals have been slaughtered, it fills me with despair that these same people have the future of farming policy in this country in their hands.

Yours sincerely

Jo Rider (Mrs)