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"IT WAS A BLOODY MESS OF A TIME"Western Morning News Feb 27 2002
On the morning of April 2nd 2001 our farm animals were all slaughtered by a MAFF vet, David Fields, and a slaughter crew. They arrived at 9.30 a.m. and by 4.30 p.m. all the animals were dead and the farm was empty. They had shot 120 ewes, many of which were heavily in lamb, 38 newly born lambs, the oldest of which was just 4 days old, the youngest only minutes old, and our five cows who were all over 15 years old and had been born on the farm. .
For five weeks after the first outbreak in Devon we lived, like many other livestock farmers, cut off, isolated and frightened.
When we saw Tony Blair on TV on March 23rd 2001 announce the contiguous cull, we suddenly realized that the ground rules had changed; it no longer mattered how hard we tried to protect our animals through bio-security; we were now playing Russian Roulette with our neighbours.
On Sunday, April 1st 2001 my partner Nick had a phone call from the MAFF vet who told us that our animals were to be culled and that it was automatic despite the fact that we were only contiguous to only one off-lying field and had 37 acres of newly planted woodland separating us from the field, and a river.
The vet arrived one hour later. He told us that all the contiguous farms were being culled, plus any dangerous contacts and all pigs within one kilometre of the outbreak at Canworthy Water. He handed us a Form A which declares that the farm is infected with Foot and Mouth, and prevents anyone entering the farm without a licence from MAFF/DEFRA. A police van was parked across the entrance to our farm. We were told by the vet, that in the next few days after the slaughter, MAFF would return and clean out the buildings and our forms would be removed by the end of the week.
On the morning of April 2nd we were told to collect all the animals into the buildings and then we said good bye to our beloved friends, while we waited for the slaughterers to arrive.
How did it feel? I can't tell you how it felt.my brain would not allow such a replay of the murders and the rapes of sanity and the love I had for these animals. Imagine how you would feel if total strangers dressed in white crashed through 18 years of your life and ceremoniously committed illegal carnage of innocents you loved and cherished and in a matter of hours, robbed you and your family of feelings built up so strongly yet blown away with gunshots and noise that horror movies try and simulate.
This was no movie, it was a real horror that no twisted mind could conceive, for it was a practice for going to hell. It was a bloody mess of a time emotionally and mentally. It was the worst time I have had on this earth and I cannot imagine more sorrow and pain inflicted by fellow human beings, through the severing of those bonds I had with my animals.
Over the next few days we realised that although several direct contacts and one other contiguous farm had been culled, eleven other farms also contiguous to the outbreak had been left un-culled including 200 sows, 1000s of sheep and cattle. We reported to MAFF that sheep from one un-culled farm had crossed the river and were grazing on the IP farm, three weeks after the outbreak, but nothing was done.
We had lost our animals and eighteen years of hard work for no reason the culling had been pointless. When we tried to get an answer from Jan Kelly, DVM of Cornwall, we were told that after they had left our farm she had changed her mind.
On Easter Sunday, two weeks later, MAFF officials told us that most of our farm buildings would have to be destroyed, as they were too old to clean effectively. The cleaning crew were to be the same firm used to slaughter our animals. The thought of the same men who had killed our animals returning onto our farm and working seven days a week for over a month, was intolerable to us; this is our home. MAFF refused to allow us to do the secondary cleansing ourselves. Eleven other farms had kept their animals, yet we were to be invaded again. We barricaded the farm entrance and phoned a solicitor.
When the rest of Cornwall including all the un-culled farms had their restrictions lifted at the end of June, and we were told by Mrs Kelly that she was going to leave us on a Form A indefinitely, until we broke. We then applied for a Judicial Review, which was granted in September on the grounds of Discrimination under the Human Rights Act. We were given the right to appeal for a Judicial Review into the legality of the Contiguous Cull, but this was lost on October 30th 2001.
By the end of October our Form A was replaced by a FMD Form 37B with two pages of rules, which we are still under. Some of the bizarre rules include having to dress up in protective clothing in order to feed our chicken, Ken; not being allowed to bring onto or take off the property any chicken carcases, milk, milk products, utensils or other thing except under licence from DEFRA.
Nearly one year after our animals were slaughtered, we are still traumatized from the treatment we have had from DEFRA and we are unable to rebuild our lives. As we have never been given an adequate explanation as to why this happened to our animals, we will not restock our farm with farm animals. Our farm is now silent, our buildings empty.
Two weeks ago, when the UK was declared Foot and Mouth free, I returned my Form 37B to Tony Blair.