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Farmer Jackie Mounsey and Richard Burge of Countryside Alliance

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used


And now to the continuing crisis over foot and mouth, the current total of outbreaks stands this morning at 298, two hundred and ninety eight, but it's been going up daily, no doubt it'll be over 300 by the time today's confirmations come through. There just simply aren't enough vets to draft in and monitor the way the disease is spreading. Farmers report having to wait at least 24 hours between reporting the symptoms and the first officials turning up to inspect the animals and today was due to have seen, of course, a vast rally in London with thousands of supporters of the Countryside Alliance demonstrating their concerns about rural issues and what they see as a lack of government action. In a moment we'll be speaking to the head of the Countryside Alliance, Richard Burge, but first to Cumbria, one of the most severely affected regions of course, where the government is about to embark on a programme of slaughtering thousands of healthy sheep to try and contain the disease. Jaquie Mounsey runs Prospect Farm with her husband, her animals are healthy but the disease has been confirmed on farms nearby. Jaquie good morning.


Good morning.


What is the situation, your, your animals are healthy at the moment but you fear they will suffer from the cull, is that right?


That's correct, yes, the animals are very healthy, we've had no problems with foot and mouth and it seems awful to think that we may have to slaughter the animals because of a government decision and we don't think that it's correct. We feel as though if the government saw the problem, the vets are coming on the farms, they've, they see the animals, they can see if they've got foot and mouth, let them shoot them there and then. Get rid of the disease, people are taking three, four days before it's confirmed, then the animals are slaughtered and they're lying in heaps for maybe three or four days, there's a heap down the road from us, it was burned on Friday night, it's been there since early Wednesday morning. Children have been going to school, they've been crying seeing the animals lying there dead. That isn't right. I mean we care for our animals, we don't see, let people see things like that, it's awful.


I can see that absolutely, at the same time in addition to what happens afterwards, are you reconciled to the fact that your animals are going to have to die or is there a chance they can be saved?


Well I think that if they sorted the killing of the animals immediately, once they see that they have foot and mouth, without waiting for a result, I think that they might stop the foot and mouth in its tracks and then, fair enough, if it doesn't work then look at the sheep. But at the moment they're not even sort of getting on top of the situation, they have nowhere to, to bury the cattle, they've nowhere to burn them. I mean it seems as though it just isn't under control, I think it's the sort of, get everything sorted then, fair enough, look at the sheep, but I mean until they get it sorted they can't, they honestly can't. I mean why should we slaughter our healthy animals, would anybody in the city like their cat or their dog or their guinea pig or any of their animals slaughtered because of something else? I mean we'll.


Well let me, not at all, Jaquie, that's very clear and passionate and let me at that point put what you've been saying to Richard Burge. Richard Burge of the Countryside Alliance, what is your policy, your reaction to what Jaquie's just saying, your policy on foot and mouth.


Jaquie is absolutely right, the government now has a crisis of confidence with many farmers particularly in Cumbria and Dumfries, they need to know that they're on top of the situation now before going for a cull of healthy animals. In Cumbria in particular if there is hefty flocks┐herds, which sheep are slaughtered it's going to take generations for those, for that livelihood to come back and that cannot be done, farmers are going to feel very reluctant to allow that to happen if they don't believe that the cull of infected animals is carried out promptly. The death of an infected animals should be a matter of hours not days, that is where government resource needs to be applied very urgently. If they could be doing that properly for farmers now they might have a better chance of convincing them that this broader cull, if it is necessary and all of us are anxious to see the scientific evidence, if it is necessary they'll get acceptance for it.


And today you are also, in addition to wanting to find out where you stood on that, today is your day to remind people that there was going to be a countryside march today which of course has been called off for the reasons we know. Absolutely and there's no question of, of asking hundreds of thousands of country people to come into London when they have a deep crisis to deal with at home. We will be leaving calling cards for MPs and Peers today for them to pick up on Monday, that is the least we can do and it is the most we can do at the moment. Everyone has to be focusing on this crisis but equally people have got to be thinking about a long-term future for the countryside. We have to be sure that people like Jaquie, that when the crisis is done that she and her children are going to have a livelihood out there, one which her children can pick up, houses for them to live in, jobs for them to do with farming, good sustainable farming being the bedrock and the economic engine of our countryside and we need to know now that there's active thought and dynamic thought going into that.


Richard thank you very much, and indeed Jaquie, very many thanks up there in Cumbria, our thoughts will be with you, thank you both for joining us this morning.



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