This page is under construction....

You and Yours/ Farming Today foot and mouth inquiry, broadcast Monday 19th November.

The Experts The panel of experts :
Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University chaired the Pennington Group inquiry into the 1996 outbreak of E.Coli 0157 infection in central Scotland. He is an adviser to the Food Standards Agency in Scotland.
Professor Ian Mercer CBE is Secretary General of the Association of National Park Authorities. He lives in Devon and recently chaired that county' s inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease.
Brigadier Alex Birtwhistle commanded the troops who were charged with implementing the Government' s foot and mouth slaughter and disposal strategy in Cumbria earlier this year. Now retired from the Army he works as a consultant and lives near Lancaster.

The Programme You can hear The Radio 4 Foot and Mouth Inquiry at 12.00pm on Monday 19 November. On Tuesday 20 November at 12.30pm Call You and Yours will be devoted to your responses to the programme. You can call 0870 010 0444 - Lines will be open from 10.00am. Emails to (with a phone number)

Statements that produced spontaneous applause from the audience in Birmingham

You have to have a policy that stops the virus getting into the country.

We have communities to rebuild. Where will the support come from?

How many people at the grass roots level have you (Morley and DEFRA) and the NFU been down to say "How can we help you - and your community and your way of life?" I have had four grown men in my kitchen in tears. Not knowing where they're going. We've been through foot and mouth, we've been through BSE, we've been through a whole change of lifestyle. We have done everything that subsequent governments have asked and we still feel that you've turned your back on us at grass roots level. lady in the audience (sympathetic loud applause)

It takes time to do these things. What appeared to be lacking and is still lacking is any kind of well understood, publicly understood, comprehensive plan of action that cascades down from the national level to the parish. The number of cases that we heard in which local knowledge was not used, certainly allowed the spread to go on when clumsiness was all that was perceived from the reportage of the time. (applause)Professor Ian Mercer chair of Devon Inquiry

I have been involved since March, mainly through connections on the internet communicating with farmers all over the country. How did the army and police feel in being asked to go in to enforce the cull and being used as a threatening presence to make people give their animals up - particularly in the light of the new Animal Health bill, which is going to make it legal to use force on anybody who resists giving up their animals - any sort of animal. (agreement and applause) Dot Boag

I did some work with Maff and saw at first hand what was going on. The minister has already admitted that we have a very, very serious crisis of confidence here. The communities are divided and the community as a whole are divided on this one. And the first thing the Ministry has done after the outbreak has, as we hope, come to an end is not hold a public inquiry that would go some way towards restoring public confidence (loud and prolonged applause) but it has refused repeatedly to hold a public inquiry and has left it to other people to hold things such as this - welcome though it is - lasting just one hour and restricting the number of people. but at the same time it has introduced, as its first gesture, instead of restoring confidence it's introduced draconian measures that will enforce the slaughter of animals regardless of the knowledge and opinion of people on the ground. What an incredible gesture for the government to make. ( cries of hear hear and loud applause) John Bradshaw, sheep breeder

You do not control fires in museums in South Kensington by pulling down all the adjacent museums (very loud response and applause) As a veterinary surgeon, my concern is that for an epidemic with a very similar total number of outbreaks to 1967, and when herd sizes have doubled, killed ten times as many animals and I want to know the real reason for that hurry. And in particular, with regard to mathematical models, since they have a huge element of statistical variation which is calculable, why were so many of the predictions in April, including those of the Chief Scientific officer to the Agriculture Select committee in the Commons, so precisely focussed on June 7th, (huge applause) a date irrelevant to disease control, irrelevant to national politics, relevant only to party politics. (prolonged applause) Professor Bob Michell, elected member of the Council of the RCVS

Listened to politely

The knack here is to get diverse and sustainable employment into the rural economy, not just into farming, but into tourism. But turning to farming, one of the things we can do, and I was discussing this with Ben before, and we are after all on the same side, as citizens of the same country, and we don't want to get too adversarial - why do we not have an organisation? Why is it left to me to sit round a kitchen table to get 600 farmers together in a cooperative when Scotland has an organisation to start cooperative farms and we don't, as I understand it, in England that will help farmers and move it forward. There's a whole variety of people who are working - DEFRA, the NFU, the Prince of Wales, Business in the Community - but it's a coordination problem as Foot and Mouth was. In Cumbria, the Maff staff on the ground came from the local community and were working wholeheartedly for their community but something was wrong in the coordination. We have lost the ability to manage risk. In the Cold War we used to have these exercises for post nuclear strikes and so on. Every region of the country is a police region and if there is a flood or a disaster or an air crash they work to those regions - except for Maff, and i'm not blaming them, whose regions went across the country, they weren't the same as anybody else's.... Brigadier Birtwhistle

Listened to with scepticism and impatience

On the Animal Health bill, it doesn't make any difference, it doesn't change the issue of animals being culled or the access people have to it, it's the procedures. Instead of going for an injunction it goes to a magistrate but the decision will be made locally in terms of the cull and there will be an appeal to the District Veterinary Officer and many animals at the present, people appealed to the courts and they were still killed, and then of course the other part of the bill is for scrapie eradication which is very important for the quality of our sheep flock, I believe that sheep are facing a very good future but that part is very important and we need to get it through. Elliot Morley

Listened to with disbelief at the use of the word "independent"

.....In October this year, two independent analyses were published, one from Imperial College and the one from Cambridge which came to a very very similar conclusion. With this current epidemic because of its initial explosive spread the only option available to government was a more draconian measure than just rapid removal of index premise and movement restrictions it unfortunately had to involve some contiguous culling Roy Anderson

LISTEN to the programme