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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Foot-and-mouth: How is it affecting your life?
Foot-and-mouth: How is it affecting your life?
Experts say foot-and-mouth disease could spiral out of control unless drastic action is taken to eradicate it as soon as possible.

It is feared that the number of cases of foot-and-mouth disease will exceed those in 1967. Both an extension of the cull of healthy animals and a vaccination programme are now possible options.

[Click here for other foot-and-mouth talking points]

While the government wants to ensure that the tourism industry does not break down completely, many country roads are closed and the movement of people in the countryside is severely restricted.

What is your personal experience? How have you been affected by the disease and its consequences? Do you live in the countryside? How has life changed there?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

We run a small pig unit, and have two young children. We have lost 50,000 plus over the past 3 years and have just put our farm up for sale. And then foot-and-mouth hits us. NO future to sell. NO prospect of selling our cull sows at all. Little income coming in due to lowered prices. NO FUTURE THAT WE CAN SEE FOR OUR FAMILY. Tony Blair needs to get his act together and help us - we have no help being offered at all. We don't have the disease at present, so we are in line for no compensation, despite having falling incomes and no market at all for cull sows! Where do we go from here?
Jane, England

I write to you from York, having yesterday spoken to my family in Cumbria. Ewes were lambing in the fields behind them as we spoke. The lambs will live for a few days at most. Before the end of the week these apparently healthy sheep and lambs will be culled as part of the firebreak. My parents do not yet know the fate of their own animals. I was left with a sense of utter helplessness and despondency. People in the affected areas have no control over the events overtaking and destroying their communities, and feel angry and impotent in the face of this crisis. I therefore ask everyone to join me in wearing black today, Tuesday 3rd April, to show support for all those affected in farming, tourism and the wider rural community.
Andrew Goddard, Britain

People in the city don't understand the magnitude of what is happening in the country

Matthew, UK
I see that people are complaining about the images shown on the news about the foot-and-mouth crisis. This is the only way that we can truly show the devastating effect that this outbreak is having on the UK's farming community. I live in Cumbria and wherever you look, pyres are burning - possibly spreading the disease even further - and animals are lying dead in fields waiting for collection. People in the city don't understand the magnitude of what is happening in the country and the effects that it is going to have. For 3 weeks, the farmers around me have waited for the outbreak to reach them hoping that it wouldn't. Yet on Saturday, the slaughter teams moved in. Only when you actually see it happening do you realise how bad things have become. So to all these people in the city, watch the TV and consider how lucky you are that the disease won't have such a large effect on you. And, Tony Blair and Nick Brown, take a leaf out of the army's book and DO SOMETHING.
Matthew, UK

Having just got back from Ambleside in the north Lake District, I can say that it is a miserable experience. The car parks at the side of the roads are blocked off and thousands of foot-and-mouth stickers are everywhere on every little lane and path. The shops are empty, two closing down sales of walking shops and no one with any sympathy for farmers - just for themselves who are suffering. I was planning to stay a few days but just came back up north. What annoys me most is that as a taxpayer, I am paying compensation to the very people who are the cause of this - the farmers.
John, Scotland

I have just read John of Scotland's comments on the cause of the disease - in his opinion it is the farmers. This is utter rubbish - it was brought in from overseas so how he can blame this country's farmers I do not know. I was brought up on a farm in Dumfries and Galloway and I heard yesterday that the farmer on that farm is to lose his sheep because the farm next door has been diagnosed with FMD. He may also lose his herd of pedigree dairy cattle, and to crown it all his wife is also to lose her pedigree Texel flock of sheep. I am really upset by this turn of affairs and it really annoys me when people start pointing the finger without thinking.
Elizabeth McTeague, Scotland

While driving up the M6 I passed one of the supposedly 'sealed' lorries which I presume was full of rotting animals - it must have been, the stench was awful. It then occurred to me that if I could smell it, there must be a considerable amount of leakage from it. It is also obvious that using plastic covers does not constitute a proper seal. When the lorry goes under a bridge, the pressure wave alternately pushes the cover down, then lifts it up, so making the whole system into a very effective pump. I am also concerned that the vehicles may be getting disinfected with the covers rolled up. Can someone please check that they are also disinfected AFTER the covers are unrolled again, since any contamination in the inside of the covers will get transferred to the outside when rolled.
Dr J Lee, UK

My heart breaks for you all

Linda McNally, USA
My heart breaks for you all. Each day carries more news of devastation. I have a small herd of Scottish Highlanders and cannot imagine what it would be like to have them destroyed. Years and years of careful breeding lost on the pyre... it must feel like a war zone, complete with the threat of loss of home or business. Daily you are in our hearts and prayers.
Linda McNally, USA

We were on holiday in Scotland from March 1st to March 18th. Our trip was for the most part great, but we were not able to get to a lot of the spots in the countryside that we were planning on going to, so we just rearranged our plans and saw more of the big towns and quite enjoyed ourselves in your beautiful country. Our big surprise was when we arrived back in the USA, our first stop was Detroit and the only reference to foot-and-mouth by anyone in customs was a single sign that read "Help Prevent Foot-and-Mouth from entering the USA". That was it. Seems we are taking something so dreadful that could strike anywhere a bit light.
Lynn Stanley, USA

I live in a village in the north of England and on Saturday the two farms whose land borders my home have been diagnosed with foot-and- mouth. It is easy for people who do not have to live amongst this horror to talk about cycle/bridle paths being closed. Try looking out of your windows as the sheep and cattle are being led to slaughter. Listen to the bullets as the animals are put to death. Try living with the deathly silence when it is all over. Try explaining to children where all of these animals are going. I think that people who are complaining about not being able to go to the beach should realise the full horror of seeing the glow of the pyres in the night. Perhaps then they would realise that anything that could stop this horror must be worth the small sacrifices.
E Proctor, UK

This is the worst thing I have ever seen

Helen, Wigton,Cumbria
I live about 5 miles away from the Great Orton site in Cumbria. After seeing many wagons carrying carcasses I have noticed that the majority of them are travelling without the top sheeting tied down properly, exposing what's in the wagons to people. Not only is it a terrible sight but possibly even more of a risk of spreading the disease to non-infected areas. Time and time again we are being told that this process is being done as professionally as possible, but after seeing this I don't really believe so! I am living in the worst affected area and you can't escape it, everywhere you look there are carcasses lying in fields or the sight of burning animals, I even look out of my front window and it's there staring me in the face.

This is the worst thing I have ever seen and the government should have faced up to the fact there was a crisis sooner. Nick Brown and Tony Blair are a waste of space. Maybe they should spend a few days up here...not a pathetic 30 minutes fly-by visit and devote some of their time to The People in Cumbria. Then maybe they will join the REAL world and realise what exactly it's like here and what people have to face every day.
Helen, Wigton,Cumbria

I have been horrified from the beginning by the laid-back attitude of those in power over this calamity, who continue to tell us it is under control, when patently it is not. It should have been stamped on much harder in the beginning with disinfectant across the roads leading to and from the infected farmland. The movement ban should also have been imposed as soon as the first case was suspected, not waited until confirmation almost a week later. It is no excuse now to say they didn't know. They should have! I know those on the ground are trying to play 'catch up' to a wildfire, but this need not have happened.
Sue Phillips, England

As you all know we have foot and mouth disease here now. We have the same problems with politicians as you have. At this very moment we hear no news about the situation - all attention of the media goes to the Prince of the Netherlands who just announced that he will get married. Lots of people think they announced this on purpose at this moment so they can keep quiet about foot-and-mouth disease. Furthermore, we hear talk that they also kill dogs in the area where foot-and-mouth disease is. I am so worried when it spreads to our area that my dogs that I love dearly will have to pay the toll.
Ria, Netherlands

It feels as though the outside world have turned on Churchstoke, pointed a finger and said "unclean"

Ian Roberts, Powys/Shropshire border
Despite all the precautions they are shooting half of the village this week. By the end of next week they will not be farming on the whole of one side of the village - Mellington, Brompton and that side of the village will be quiet, nothing but smoking bonfires where the sheds and barns have been bulldozed and the tracks where the trucks have taken people's lives away. These are good people, who have worked all their lives for what they have got, who have seen it under threat for a month, who have given up everything for the last month to try to protect not just their livelihood - which they can be compensated monetarily for - but livestock which they know as individuals, and who are now forced to watch as it is all taken away from them.

This is the sacrifice of a community in order to protect other communities, other industries and other careers. It feels as though the outside world have turned on Churchstoke, pointed a finger and said "unclean". The whole community will need time to rebuild and reorder itself and there will be a distrust of that which comes from without - the media, the politicians and the like with their statements of intent 'to help', 'to restore normality' and 'to allow others to understand what has happened'. We do not want it; to an extent we do not need it. We do need time to grieve, to weep and to support each other, and we need the time to do so without the vicarious and morbid interest of the outside world. Leave us in peace to rebuild our world; do not make us your sideshow. Enough has been done already.
Ian Roberts, Headteacher, Churchstoke C.P. School, Powys/Shropshire border

The way that they are burning the carcasses is wrong. The smoke and fumes are carrying the virus to other areas. It is important that they find another way of disposal. The burning is too cool and slow. Vapours are being released and carried on the smoke before the burning carcasses are hot enough to kill the virus. Somebody must check this out as quickly as possible. It is politically difficult to say one is wrong but the situation is so serious that it transcends all politics.
George Clark, Australia

As many others before me, may I send my sympathies and best wishes to anyone affected by foot and mouth at this dreadful time. As for the Govt saying the countryside is open...have they been here? It seems to me that the countryside is most definitely not "open", and because of it many people, myself included, are finding themselves severely restricted. Our holiday in the Brecon Beacons next month is looking increasingly unlikely, as we were to stay on a farm, which incidentally have diversified into holiday cottages to survive! We still want to go even though many places are closed, but understandably will only go if the proprietors wish us to.
Nicola Tyldesley, UK

I'm disgusted now with the delay in vaccinating these poor animals. Sights of young lambs with their mothers heading for the slaughterhouse - thousands of bodies lined up waiting to be buried. Someone needs their bumps feeling and quick. With the government release the figures of the poor farmers who take their own lives because of this? I think not!! Stop the idea of an election and do something to benefit the country in the long run.
Tracy Lockett, Lancashire, England

Already the stress and worry is overwhelming

Catherine Blackburn, England
I am desperately worried about how the foot-and-mouth disease is going to spread and what the long-term implications are going to be. Already the stress and worry is overwhelming. Having grown up on a farm, and experienced the massive changes the farming industry has had to go through over recent years, I feel this tragedy is just adding insult to injury. What future do my brother and his generation have if our animals are destroyed - no amount of compensation would bring back the pedigree herd my father has nurtured which my brother would take over.

My parents have diversified one of their farm buildings into a tourist attraction, and are therefore being hit by this crisis from two angles. However much the government encourages tourists to go back to the countryside, this will not bring back my parents' customers, as tourists are advised not to visit farms. Where will it all end?
Catherine Blackburn, England

I am a farrier in the south Wales valleys, in Neath. I have hardly shod any horses in the last three weeks and there seems to be no promise of it picking up until the bridleways are open again.
Alun Whitney, Wales

As FMD leaps tens of miles from the nearest case into my area, I am sick of the idea that a cull of any locality can stop its spread. This is obviously nonsense. Mass vaccination is a must. People will not visit the country when there is a prospect that they can turn the corner in an area they believe to be free of disease, only to fall over heaps of rotting or burning carcasses.
Mick Woolley, UK

We have just cancelled our Easter holiday in Cornwall as the National Trust kindly offered a full refund. It is OK for Blair to order us all back to the countryside but when the fields and coastal paths are closed and all we can do is visit hermetically sealed pleasure parks, we may as well stay at home.
Wendy, UK

Can anyone tell me why I saw sheep being driven down the M6 today, around Jnct 9 heading south! I thought ALL movement of live animals was forbidden? They were in an ordinary lorry, with the usual air vents, which the sheep were peering out of! Unfortunately, I did not get the registration number of the lorry. But is this indeed legal?
Adrian Wootton, England

Why are we not taking the opportunity to research methods that have been used in the past ?

Rosemary Steel, England
As there appears to be an organic farm in the midst of a group of West Country farms, which are affected, and the organic farm is not, why should we not look at what they are doing to remain disease free? Why are we not taking the opportunity to research methods that have been used in the past - one involves borax, another is including garlic in the feed etc. Surely it is evidence that immunity may be built up if even one farm which works differently succeeds - to destroy this flock with the 3 mile limit would be criminal.
Rosemary Steel, England

I heard a story yesterday about a farmer during the 60's outbreak who surrounded his animals with raw cut-up onions. Whilst all the surrounding farms contracted foot and mouth, his animals remained clear. Please, please pass this information on to anywhere where farmers may hear it. At this stage, anything is worth a try, especially for the price of a few pounds of onions. Imagine if it worked.
Julia, Isle of Man

Forget tourism; forget the culling, if there is no more beef on sale in the UK, I am moving to America. I cannot survive without beef; in fact my life will not be worth living. A week's holiday abroad without British beef, and I am already bedsick.
Ade Talabi, UK

I run a business in Powys which is about as far removed from farming as it is possible to be. Nonetheless, trade has slumped to about a fifth of what it was before foot-and-mouth. The cure for the outbreak is becoming a kind of madness and will soon be worse than the disease. So what if we can't export to the EC. Vaccinate now, and save what is left of the rural economy. And after its all over, cull MAFF!
J.Winrow, Wales

Having just got back from Ambleside in the north Lake District, I can say that it is a miserable experience. The car parks at the side of the roads are blocked off and thousands of foot-and-mouth stickers are everywhere on every little lane and path. The shops are empty, two closing down sales of walking shops and no one with any sympathy for farmers - just for themselves who are suffering. I was planning to stay a few days but just came back up north. What annoys me most is that as a taxpayer, I am paying compensation to the very people who are the cause of this - the farmers.
John, Scotland

Seeing and smelling what the TV doesn't show hit home how dire this crisis is

Stephen, UK
Living and working in sub-urban Bristol I am hardly affected by the present crisis. However, I spent the weekend at my parents smallholding in Dumfries and Galloway to lend moral support whilst their perfectly healthy sheep were culled as part of the firebreak policy. Driving through Longtown and the surrounding area seeing and smelling what the TV doesn't show hit home how dire this crisis is.

We've all seen the burning carcasses but there seems to be no coverage of what cleaning up the infected farms entails - old farm buildings that cannot be disinfected are being demolished in some cases. Paying farmers for the loss of their animals is going to do nothing to help in such cases. And as for the rest of the fragile rural economy - my parents village store and sister's garden centre are just two of many businesses that will struggle to survive this year with little or no tourists or farmers' markets. Sorting out this is more important than any election.
Stephen, UK

I live on a farm in Staffordshire and we are surrounded by infected farms. We have for weeks taken precautions, parking our cars a quarter of a mile away, dipping boots, not allowing friends and family to visit and for what? The owners of the farm have been told MAFF will kill the sheep regardless - surely the vaccinations should be given to all cattle and sheep not just selected areas. It breaks my heart to see the owners struggle everyday and to know that the horses are going to run out of feed and bedding very soon - why? No deliveries are allowed. So what now? Come on Blair address this problem once and for all.
Lilian, UK

Please, please start asking questions about the effects of burning on our health. We have a huge pyre being built near where we live, a fate suffered already by many others in our area near Penrith. We are told about dioxins in the toxic products of burning. Our house stank with the windows shut when the fires were miles away and I'm concerned for the health of our two-year old son, Max.

Can we expect cancers and bronchial disease in future years from this. We are told they can't bury cattle because of BSE, and yet we're told that milk and meat are safe? This is frightening stuff. Are country dwellers being sacrificed for dogma by MAFF and the Environment agency?
Michael, UK

Having just returned from a long weekend in the Cotswolds we can unfortunately confirm that the countryside in the Cotswolds is most definitely closed for tourism. Walking is completely out - except in towns and even attractions that do not appear to have any animal connections (and which would have been open normally by now according to the guide books) were closed for business. The only busy place was Burton-on-the-Water and that was overcrowded!
Laurence, England

Like most of the other comments, I have complete sympathy with the farmers, and those in the tourist industry who are suffering terribly because of this outbreak. As a keen climber and walker I have been stuck inside for the last five weeks, and will of course continue to do so, as I have no desire to help this spread further. I know that most other people in my position are also behaving in this responsible way. What I can't understand is our Prime Minister continuing to send the wrong message by urging people to go back to the countryside? What does he think people do in the "country side" ? He seems to be more worried about making things "look" al right than actually doing anything about it.
Simon, UK

How can Blair claim that the countryside is open, when even the towpath by the Baisingstoke canal is closed! It hardly goes though rural or farming land! Whilst visiting Cornwall recently it was impossible to access many beaches because the footpaths leading to them were shut. And what other reason might you want to visit Cornwall? To visit their extensive manufacturing or IT industry?
Andrew, UK

One minute we can't go to the countryside, now we have got to save the British tourist industry

Glen Clarke, UK
The outbreak has caused me utter confusion. One minute we can't go to the countryside, now we have got to save the British tourist industry. The situation is now becoming worse as you state in today's lead article that Tony Blair is going to tell everyone to visit the countryside but stay away from farmland. How exactly are you supposed to do that? That would be like going to the seaside but staying away from the coast, or going to the city but staying away from the concrete.
Glen Clarke, UK

Having just read, quote "And Mr Brown said that while emergency vaccination was "no easy option", Britain was seeking advance European permission to use the measure so that it could be swiftly implemented if the decision was taken to vaccinate." I am angry. One of the major problems this crisis has thrown up is our inability to swiftly act where need. Disposal of culled animal remains has been one issue highlighted by farmers and the media. Decisions need to be made locally and promptly to get on top of this disease. Having a chain that extends from infected farm to regional MAFF centre to London and then to Brussels is only going to help this disease spread. Lets not seek EU permission, just keep them informed of what action is being taken.
James Armstrong, Wales

So Tony Blair says the countryside is open for business. I wonder where he obtains this information from as he is clearly misinformed. I live in an area where we do not even have foot-and-mouth disease and yet every single footpath and bridle-way is closed regardless of whether or not there is a farm nearby. Strangely enough golf courses are all open so presumably animals do not cross such areas during the hours of darkness? I have the greatest sympathy for our farmers and as a lover of the countryside want to support the tourism industry. BUT like hundreds of thousands of others I take part in outdoor pursuits which requires access to the countryside. As a responsible person I am observing the ban and will continue to do so for as long as it takes.
Paul, UK

I am concerned about your reports that more people are becoming vegetarian in response to this outbreak, and I cannot understand why vegetarians are claiming that foot and mouth is a vindication of their way of life. Where do they think their milk and cheese come from? While I could understand if people were becoming vegan in response to the outbreak, (although I am an omnivore myself), it is absurd to become vegetarian rather than vegan on "animal welfare" grounds.

As a meat eater, I can take lectures in moral superiority from vegans, although I disagree with them. But vegetarianism is a foolish response to this outbreak. Dairy cows (whose lives in more normal farming times are a lot grimmer than your typical beef bullock's life) are being slaughtered along with the rest of them. So get off your high horses, veggies, and take your fair share of responsibility along with the rest of us, or throw away your woollen clothes, leather shoes, and stop eating dairy products.
Edmund King, UK

The Government's message about the countryside being open is wrong. Surely for most people a visit to the countryside involves walking or riding footpaths and bridle-ways and most of these are closed. I am a frustrated mountain biker. And the loss to the local economy where I choose to cycle would include spends at the local pub, tea and cake shops, train fares, bike shops. Not much individually but bikers, ramblers etc. contribute a significant amount to the local economy of these areas. Farming is a relatively poor contributor to the GDP but one with such strong traditional ties that its destruction is unimaginable. The quickest end to this nightmare has to be vaccination. Let's do it.
Toby Johnson, UK

My family are living in a rural town in Lincolnshire, which for now is relatively disease free. I know however that they are all thinking the same thing -"When will it be our turn?". The best memories I have are of the English countryside, there is nothing to compare it to. The farmers must be supported completely through this nightmare. I hope that not one of them suffers financially, and if they do, well shame on the Government.
Julie Halton, Perth, Australia

Does Tony Blair really have any idea how this crisis is affecting farmers? We are living in constant fear that we are going to get Foot and Mouth. All our waking thoughts are filled by it, it is a constant spectre hanging over us. It is not just the threat of losing our livestock, but our homes and our history. The suicide rate amongst farmers was one of the highest in the country before this crisis, what will it be like now? Unless you are living with this stress, you can have no idea what it feels like. Farmers are barricaded into farms, not daring to go anywhere. We haven't seen our family for weeks, yet Mr Blair insists that the countryside is open. If we are to stop the spread of this disease draconian measures are needed, and that includes keeping townies out of the countryside.
L.A. Price, Warks, UK

How can the government say that the countryside is open. I live in Knottingley a industrial town in Yorkshire and all the canal tow path are closed, from walking and fishing. And not a sheep for miles!
Cliff Young, England

We have a wonderful Jersey herd in Cheshire, over the last 12 years we have built up a wonderful and successful ice cream business. What a disaster, we live in fear for our cows and our income from the ice cream has completely dried up. This morning we drove past a burning pyre to school which really upset the children. Who does Mr. Blair want to live in the countryside? We have sucessfully diversified, gone organic, opened our farm to the public, and yet we are now going for broke! I don't suppose in the history of this country there has ever been a government so removed from the countryside. Why do I feel we are all so doomed?
C Sadler, UK

I live in rural Norfolk and as yet we have no confirmed cases, but we are still almost totally shut down. Our beach and golf course are shut. All the public footpaths, bridle-ways and farm tracks are closed meaning we have to keep to roads. I have friends whose businesses are going bankrupt. The Government claim we are open for business - how can we be? Everywhere is closed, events have been postponed or cancelled! We are a hundred or so miles away from the nearest case but still we are being greatly affected.
Alex Green, Norfolk, England

I was born in Cumbria, and read with absolute horror, the details of FMD. I ask you to understand, the pain, and feelings of our local UK farmers, who look upon the herds of sheep, cows, pigs, hens......even the dog and cat as extended family. Sometimes, it is not all about, pounds and pennies, nor dollars or cents. It's about a way of life! Keep on visiting GB, the Brits have a way of dealing with problems...DO NOT CANCEL YOUR HOLIDAY! My sympathy....Hang in there farmers..Tomorrow is another day!
Ruth Braithwaite San Diego, USA

Every morning when I wake up the very first thing I do is switch on my PC to check how much nearer this terrible disease has crept to my sheep. In the morning we feed our 430 sheep and the thought of having to destroy them is heartbreaking, especially as they come towards lambing. Just think if it was your pet having young and you didn't know if they would have to be killed just before or after having their young. The fear we live with every day is causing so much stress and heartbreak to everyone in our community. The nearest infected farm is six miles away but we live in Devon in an area with the most sheep per capita in the UK. We can only keep our fingers crossed and pray, as we try to keep our hungry sheep as well fed and protected as we can.
Sharon Barker, UK

The UK is most certainly NOT open for business as usual

Ian, UK
Contrary to what the government is telling us, the UK is most certainly NOT open for business as usual. We have a holiday booked at a chalet park on the banks of Loch Ness, but we may have to cancel. We contacted the site owner and this is what he told us - "For the time being there are blanket bans on access to all forestry areas, National Trust areas, national parks (this takes in Ben Nevis for example) and all British Waterways towpaths". And Tony Blair claims it is business as usual?? Definitely not good for Scottish business!
Ian, UK

I'm not a vegetarian but I can't stand to see healthy animals being slaughtered - no, massacred - for no reason. How did this start, when will it end? Parliamentary representatives say stay calm but thousands of businesses are going bust and families are seeing their relatives kill themselves because everything is lost. We need this sorting out NOW - NOT TOMORROW, NOW. People have feelings, animals have feelings. I find this too distressing to continue.
Donna Partridge, England

Although I'm not a farmer, I help to run an estate in rural Aberdeenshire, which has a small 'ornamental' herd of highland cattle. One of our heifers calved yesterday and we have another calving due any time. The highlanders are lovely animals and I dread the arrival of foot-and-mouth in this area. I'd like to express my sympathy to Robert Smith and the many others like him who've lost their herds. I understand that it isn't just a matter of money - although that in itself is a difficult enough problem to deal with.
Paul, UK

My animals have been shot and burned. My life has been torn apart. I am worried about the effects it is having on my wife and four children. We don't just farm for profit. We love working with animals and being in the countryside. Spring should be the best time of the year with animals returning to pastures. Our neighbours and people in the village have been very supportive. I do not know the future for me or my family. I just want six months to go by very quickly so that we can have animals on the farm again.
Robert Smith, UK

Maybe if the government had done something when this first started, it could be controlled by now

Carly Moore, N. Ireland
I think it is a disgrace that some people seem to be more worried about whether or not some sporting events take place. Do you not stop to think about the hundreds of lives that have been ruined by this? I live in Northern Ireland and although there have been no cases in my area, me and my family live in fear that someday we will discover foot-and-mouth on our animals. I just wish people would realise how serious this is. Maybe if the government had actually done something when this first started, it could be controlled by now.
Carly Moore, N. Ireland

I am hoping to travel to England in late May. I'll be spending most of my trip in London but our planned excursions to the countryside (i.e. Stonehenge and Stratford-upon-Avon) may have to be cancelled. I don't believe travelling to England is forbidden at the time, but it's certainly taking its toll on the tourist industry. I pray that by God's grace and the work of the British Government and military that this crisis will be brought under control soon.
Ron, Canada

My thoughts and sympathies are very much with those whose livelihoods are being eroded by this epidemic. I am Irish studying in the UK, and I can see a huge deficiency in how the government here has tackled the problem. In Ireland ALL public gatherings have been cancelled - that includes football, racing, athletics, fishing, St Patrick's Day parades etc. In the cities, many businesses, shops and supermarkets have mats outside for members of the public to disinfect themselves. It is recognised that it is not only a 'countryside' problem, and people country-wide are doing their bit to help. Cars leaving the cities are routinely hosed down with disinfectant, why isn't this happening here? The ripple effects of this will have consequences for everyone.
Martina, UK

I am based in Thailand and during the last two weeks I have been to the UK and to the USA and back again to the UK and returned to Thailand. Entering the UK, twice, I was not inspected or disinfected as I had expected. No one asked if I was bringing in food or food products. On leaving the UK I was also not disinfected nor was I asked if I was exporting food or food products. On entering the USA and re-entering Thailand I was not asked about food produce nor asked to be disinfected. My experience of any restrictions within the UK was in west Cornwall, where there were posters requesting that I did not walk down certain footpaths, and at Land's End where I was asked to stay on the paved areas. Being of farming stock, I was deeply concerned by the seemingly complacent attitude of the authorities at point of entry and departure!
Stephen Nancledra, Thailand

Politicians have no REAL idea how this is affecting people like me

Sarah, Scotland
My neighbour's farm has just been declared infected and from my living room window I can see animals being killed, the pyre will be lit later this morning. I know that the 70 healthy sheep on my land will be next. Maff has caused this situation to get this bad, the delay between diagnosis, cull and disposal is too long, my neighbour was investigated on the 24th, the cull didn't start until today. If the huge delays continue at every farm, FMD will spread across the whole country. Vaccination will only cause further problems, the only solution is to stop the cull-disposal delays. I am in tears, as are others in my area, the politicians have no REAL idea how this is affecting people like me, out in the country, in the middle of it all, seeing flames day and night; they should spend 24 hours at my farm, then they would act.
Sarah, Scotland

We live on a large country estate in Devon. All aspects of our life have been affected (including impending redundancy). We have had to restrict our movements to the bare minimum. Disinfecting our car and shoes when we go in and out of the estate. Our three children go to school and come straight home. There are no birthday parties, no youth club, no after school activities. It's like living in a war zone except instead of being shot at we are waiting to see what bright idea this government comes up with next. We watch the news reports on the TV, but they come nowhere near to conveying the reality of the situation. Like driving past a funeral pyre of maybe 150/250 animals just to do your weekly shop. If the people in the towns/cities could imagine what it would be like to have a complete stranger come in to their back garden and shoot their dog or favourite animal, then multiply that feeling by 100/200/1000 times, then maybe they can imagine what the farmers/country people in England and Ireland are going through.
Andy & Jane Davis, England

Living on the island of Jersey, home to the Jersey cow, we have battened down the hatches and we watch with tears in our eyes at the distress and suffering of our British cousins. One small point that may be worth mentioning: Could this terrible tragedy act as a catalyst to encourage the British shopper to "Buy British". Whilst most farming families (I am married to a grower) have always ensured that they support the local farming community, it is rare to see a "town shopper" doing the same. Price has for so long been an over-riding factor rather than quality and freshness. With the news that the source may be from infected pig swill from a local school it raises the question "Why are we feeding our children and our future on imported meat and not home-grown produce and products?" With growing despair and heavy hearts we watch the quiet courage of farmers across the water and our thoughts and prayers are with you
Kris, Jersey, Channel Islands

As an ex-Northumbrian I remember the outbreak of '67. I just can't imagine what you are all going through. The nightmare of watching your animals being slaughtered, the dread of being next, the fear of people coming onto your land and the total loss of livelihood is a complete nightmare. I know other people are affected by it too, but the farmers have had so much to cope with in the last few years and this government seems to be so anti-countryside; I don't think they understand a thing about it. I wish that we could do something to help you all. Even over here farmers are frightened of coming into contact with anybody from the UK and I can hardly blame them.
Mary, Canada

I live in a town that has not yet been directly hit by this disease. However, many public footpaths have been closed for prevention purposes, including one that I usually use to walk my son to school. I now have to walk double of what is already a fairly long walk. However, this seems the least that I can do. It's a shame that other local residents can't take notice of these signs as willingly. I find it a disgrace to our area that people are so thoughtless! I just wish there was more we could be doing. My thoughts go out to the farming community who have suffered or are about to suffer the devastating effects.
Wayne Revie, England

Is there anyway the musicians of the world could get together for a "farm-aid" concert (with Internet involvement) and send the proceedings to all the hurting farmers and businesses affected by this crisis. We've done it before for other situations - seems grim enough to warrant it again. How about it guys, let's do something constructive!
Penny, Australia

I am so sorry for the people of England as they face the hardships of the outbreak. I love farming. The connection it gives us to the natural world affects me deeply. I am keeping all of you in my prayers that this will pass soon and that all may recover and continue with your lives and livelihoods.
G Kocher, West Virginia, US

In the midst of this nightmare, each day seems to last a lifetime as we watch the stock...paranoid to see signs that may only be in our imagination today

Farmer, Mid Wales
In the midst of this nightmare, each day seems to last a lifetime as we watch the stock...paranoid to see signs that may only be in our imagination today. Closing our eyes and seeing the horrendous pyre that would be our entire livelihood disappearing into an already fogged with smoke sky. Each day, each second seems to be bringing us closer to an inevitable conclusion over which we have so little chance of survival. We listen to friends who have already felt the blow and feel the choking in our own throats. If this disease has not affected your life yet, then may you thank god that that is so.
Farmer, Mid Wales

We live in Herefordshire (prime livestock rearing area of mainly small farmers) where my wife runs a livery yard and is also a freelance riding instructor. Her teaching has dried up completely - people have battened down the hatches. All her liveries are showing great restraint in not hacking out and the powers that be are telling us that the countryside is open for business. If people are encouraged back too soon, the result will be endemic foot and mouth and all the current sacrifices will be for nothing. To our own detriment, we are all doing our best to help our farmer neighbours only to hear the mantra of "Crisis, what crisis?"
Clive Speaks, UK

I am a fortunate farmer living in the relatively unscathed South East of England. We have in place all the disinfectant barriers to minimise the risk of infection. The threat still haunts us minute by minute as rumours flourish. Like many of my colleagues I am disgusted at the way the Government is leading the media by the nose and suggesting that the farming community is to blame for this. Our simple point is, this infection entered on imported meat (from a country where foot-and-mouth is endemic) this meat was used as school meals. The preparation of these meals failed to kill the virus! The waste from these meals was used for pig feed (boiled) this also failed to kill the virus. These pigs were then transported to market. Why does our government permit the import of meat from countries infected with foot and mouth, while the E.U. bans the export of top quality English Meat? To farmers this double standard is just unbelievable.
Steve Lynes, England

I run a small drystone walling business in Dumfriesshire, which I have done for the last 12 years. This crisis has effectively killed it stone dead, I can't claim any kind of benefits because I am self employed and the bank refuses to extend my overdraft. I don't know what do next.
Robert Duncan, Scotland, UK

My husband is missing....His name is KEITH Steven James RYAN aged 43 years old

Deborah Ryan, England
My husband is missing. He is a professional licensed slaughterman and is believed to be seeking work with Maff in relation to the mass culls nationwide. He left home on Tuesday 20.03.01. and neither his parents nor I have had any word from him. He may be working with a gang or on an individual basis. Maff has been contacted, but to date no information has been forthcoming. His name is KEITH Steven James RYAN aged 43 years old. I am used to him "disappearing" in relation to his work, but normally would have heard from him now. If he is known to you, please contact me.
My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, in any way, by the foot and mouth epidemic. Thank you.
Deborah Ryan, England

I am a dairy farmer and my sons are taking A-levels and GCSEs this year. Now is the time they need to concentrate, it is hard for them. I find the scenes and stories of disease absolutely heartbreaking, I can't bear to think what it would be like to lose our pedigree cows, every one a character in her own right, every one known intimately. I am beginning to sense that people are seeing this disease as an inconvenience as they plan elections. Well I'm sorry, we can't call it off like the fuel strike when it becomes a nuisance to people.
Susan Elmes, Wiltshire, England

I've just heard that some group within the government was trying to get all the infected carcasses dumped in the North East of Scotland. Hey, great idea given the fact one, there is no foot-and-mouth here (only got as far as the far south west), two, the North East is a major farming community, known world wide for the highest quality produce.
Ewen, Scotland

This epidemic has spread its feelers a lot further than the farm animals and I do so hope it can be resolved without totally crippling the country

Di, Australia
Reading through the emails I can understand the devastation of the farmers but I can also understand the dismay of the tourist industry. My husband and I have been saving hard for two years, going without a lot of things so we can make the trip of a lifetime back to my home country. It has been extremely difficult to do this especially with the advent of the GST and the falling Aussie dollar. Finally in January we paid for our trip and now it seems (according to the media) that we are going to be severely restricted where we can go. You don't go to other countries just to go to the cities especially in England with all the beautiful countryside to see. This epidemic has spread its feelers a lot further than the farm animals and I do so hope it can be resolved without totally crippling the country.
Di, Adelaide, Australia

We have often spent time in Lancashire and are hoping to move back to UK. While thinking of all that is lovely and great in UK, I have waves of heart wrenching sadness for the animals and farmers and frustration about the inability to help. It keeps running through my mind how vulnerable we all are. I am dreaming of what the future could be like after this horror. The UK has so much still. To turn upon itself and nurture itself within it's boundaries, cut down on globalisation, explore UK instead of other shores, rebuild from within each village. Stop centralisation. The UK is an island and a beautiful one. Let's make it healthy and strong again through basics rather that all that empty "yuppie" stuff which gobbles up life.
Regine, USA

Responsible stewardship of our regional resources makes much more sense

Beverly, United States
I am greatly saddened to hear of the suffering this outbreak has caused. I am afraid that this will not be the end of it -- the globalisation of trade also means the globalisation of disease. It is time for the pendulum to swing the other way -- before it is too late. Responsible stewardship of our regional resources makes much more sense than turning everything over to global corporations who have no concern for anything but profit. Sending all the support and kindness I can for you who are suffering.
Beverly, United States

I was shocked and amazed by recent comments made by politicians the countryside may still be open to visitors in some areas but my family and I will be staying at home, we have not wish to spread this awful virus and add to the current devastation, (do politicians live in a dream world). so far this epidemic has not been taken seriously action should have been taken weeks ago, culled animals should be incinerated on the day of death as the virus is probably being spread more by wildlife and vermin.
Sarah, UK

My wife and I and two other couples have planned a 27 day visit to England, Ireland and Scotland starting May 30 via a tour company. We have to have the balance of our money in this week. We are confused with all the conflicting reports and are about to cancel because we cannot find out how this will affect our trip. We plan no hiking or biking. It will be all bus and hotels. Please give us some guidance.
Henry Brock, USA

My animals have been shot and burned. My life has been torn apart. I am worried about the effects it is having on my wife and four children. We don't just farm for profit. We love working with animals and being in the countryside. Spring should be the best time of the year with animals returning to pastures. Our neighbours and people in the village have been very supportive. I do not know the future for me or my family. I just want six months to go by very quickly so that we can have animals on the farm again.
Robert Smith, UK

I'm a local organiser of a charity walk in the countryside which regulars raises over 10,000 for overseas charity. The decision to cancel it will probably have to be taken this week. But what happens next year? Do we have to slaughter all wild deer to prevent another outbreak and more chaos?
Anthony, England

I live in Ramsbury which is an infected area and I was very upset about the pigs that were destroyed although they were not infected. I have to pass their field twice a day and it looks like a war zone. I cannot walk my dog and I work at Newbury racecourse. I love the countryside and feel for the farmers but there are lot of other people who are affected and we should think of them as well. Racing has continued so that is good but I think the Government have been very slow off the mark and I will not be voting labour.
Sally Parkman, Wilts, England

My wife and I live in the middle of an infected area of Powys. Part of our income comes from maintaining holiday cottages for holiday makers. All the bookings for March were cancelled as soon as the outbreak took place, now the bookings for April and May are threatened. Our income has dropped by nearly 500 per month. We still have bills to pay, and the banks are not at all sympathetic. The DSS can do nothing, and local work is drying up because its all being affected by the crisis. So what do my wife and our 3 small children do? If it carries on we will be in danger of losing our home.
John, Wales

Even though I am outside the nearest affected areas (Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway) my saddlery business has been virtually wiped out. I have grossed a mere 103 since the end of February, and being self-employed am entitled to nothing. If it were not for a small private medical pension my wife and two kids family would be out on the street.
John Malone, Scotland

I feel very sorry for your farmers with the foot-and-mouth disease. I am a pig farmer from the Netherlands and we have the disease too. The only way to stop this is to give them an injection against the foot-and-mouth disease.
Joan Hendriks, Netherlands

I went home at the weekend from university. We live in a farming community and it was perhaps the most depressing thought ever, to realise that everything I have grown up with will soon be no more. I just wish there was something I could do. Never have I felt so helpless.
Holly Nickson, England

I am a dairy farmer and single parent living in an infected area, we have not been off the farm for 4 weeks, my daughter moved out to family friends 3 weeks ago to safeguard her A-levels, my son works on a farm that had 3,500 pigs killed, I have not seen him for 4 weeks, no-one who is non-urgent comes onto the farm. Friends do our shopping for us and drop it at the end of the drive. It would compromise all our precautions to go out to vote.
Chris Freeman, England

My family watches the news in horror, disgust, outrage and shame at the devastation. Our hearts and prayers reach out to all of the loss. We pray for God's speed in an end to this tragedy.
Sandy Munson, Kansas, USA.

Luckily foot-and-mouth hasn't reached Hertfordshire as of yet. The only effect it has on me is that I cannot enjoy the countryside and walk my dog, which is nothing compared to the devastation effecting the farmers. I urge people to abide by the restrictions so that we may rid ourselves of this terrible disease as soon as possible
Chris, England

I live in the Devon area and live in rural countryside, moral is very low in the village and varied friends who work in the countryside have been affected from tree surgeons to betting office managers. Foot-and-mouth epidemic has been a blow for all concerned, not only have the farmers got this to cope with but also poor weather has affected the sowing of crops and I think this adds to the low morale felt by all.
Alison Tolley, England

It's sweeping statements like," with many roads now closed movement in the countryside is severely restricted" that is destroying our tourism industry! I live and own a restaurant in Grasmere in the heart of the English lakes and although you cannot use footpaths or walk off roads on the fells, nothing up here has changed. The lakes are deathly at the moment many of our businesses won't survive this crisis how many of you would take a two-third wage cut and still pay the bills? The Lake District needs the media's help desperately to turn the tide on all the negative journalism that has gone on over the past five weeks.
Andrew Hill, Cumbria, England

Our hearts go out to you all in this latest tragedy - foot-and-mouth disease in cattle. We have followed the floods and bad weather you have experienced this last year, wondering how you were all going to get your homes dried out before the winter, then mad cow disease hanging over your heads. We prayed for you last Sunday in our little church in Bundeena, near Sydney. We experience hardships at times, especially when our beautiful Royal National Park was destroyed by bush fires a few years ago and our homes were threatened as well. We experienced sorry when the bush animals dies and the trees and native flowers were burnt to their roots. All though this was nothing compared to what you Brits our experiencing, most Aussies and expatriate Brits are hurting for you. We will continue to pray for you and you are forever in our thoughts. God bless, good prevails in the end, we are told. Love you all, I am sending you some of our sunshine and warmth with this email.
June Williams, Sydney Australia

If there is such a shortage of vets, why doesn't Maff call on some of the 5000+ environmental health officers and ex-local authority meat inspectors in the country. Many of them were directly responsible in earlier, pre-vet days for supervising slaughtering in abattoirs. If we need to scale up the slaughtering programme to eradicate this disease, it seems plain daft not to use all the resources at our disposal? The alternative is continued prevarication, confusion, delay and destruction of our farming, tourism and rural industries.
Stewart Smith, England

There is a real threat to stocks of trout and salmon, a vital factor in the tourist and rural economy. Much has been achieved over recent years, but could all be undone by disinfectant pollution running into waterways. Farmers need to remember their holistic stewardship role in protecting the rural and natural environment.
Brendan Kerr, Scotland

Speaking from somewhat "outside" (ie being a vegetarian based in the Czech Republic) I have to say that following the spread of foot-and-mouth has been a very depressing experience, not only from the news that so many innocent animals are being slaughtered every day - this would be normal in the meat industry as a matter of course - but mostly that so many people are losing their livelihoods. Could this be nature's little hint that we rethink our increasingly intensive food 'production' system and re-evaluate our relationship with the land. If the disease reaches this country it will be an unrivalled disaster for a nation who eat meat like there's no tomorrow. I sympathise deeply, but can't help feeling that we had it coming.
Steve Coleman, Czech Republic

I had to cancel my spring trip to England because of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth. It's my pleasure spending English countryside in setting sun with beautiful greeneries far and beyond. It's human that I have to criticize for all these consequences caused by ill farming process.
M N Faheem, Germany

I am currently in the US but have been following the foot-and-mouth outbreak very closely. It saddens me that yet another crisis has hit Britain's farmers and Britain's animals. I think that the problem is depressing enough without all of the criticism Britain is receiving from our European neighbours. I am not looking forward to returning home at all, but believe that things will only get worse before they get better.
Gareth, UK

My nearest outbreak is only two miles away. Our friends live next door to this outbreak. Last year they got rid of their dairy herd, because of the price of milk, converted some barns to self catering holiday lets and kept a small herd of beef cattle - now they have lost their first years lettings and the beef herd will shortly be killed, not a bright future.
Alex, Devon, England

Although we live nowhere near any infected farms, the closest confirmed infection is 90 miles away, our guesthouse business has been hit particularly hard by the foot-and-mouth epidemic. For example, our turnover is down on last years by 75% and consequently, we have had to pay off all of our casual employees. Employees who depend on our business to supplement the reduced incomes of their husbands / sons and daughters dependent on farmers or other rural businesses for their employment.
Bob Semple, Scotland

Since the start of the crisis we have lost over 80% of the business in our small rural country house hotel in the heart of Wales. The hardest thing that I have had to do is lay off 12 of the full time staff leaving only a skeleton staff of six. The government tell us the countryside is open for business. Yes we are open but the customers stay away in their droves. The bills still come though. Business rates, 80% up on last year, climate change nge levy,15% up on energy cost and a jump in prices from our suppliers. The cost of meat has risen but we will still not have anything but local produce in our hotel. It was imported meat that started this thing, it's a pity that imports have risen as well.
Peter Smith, Wales

As an expatriate, my heart bleeds to hear of all the damage the foot-and-mouth is causing, this is a war almost worse than anything else seen before and the British and European countries have to pull together to help those whose livelihoods are devastated.
Vivienne, America

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