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Programme highlights Monday, 9 April, 2001, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Appeals slow slaughter
Moira Linaker with her Ryeland sheep
Moira Linaker doesn't want her sheep culled

Every livestock farmer in the land has received a letter from the Ministry of Agriculture requesting their co-operation over the cull of healthy animals in order that, in the words of Nick Brown's letter, "the strategy is to succeed."

MAFF is worried about the number of farmers ready to appeal against such culls, though it's not yet clear how large that number might be.

Herdwick sheep in Cumbria are threatened by the cull
Rare breeds threatened

By expressing its concern so publicly, MAFF has given a clear indication that they think this is a real problem.

In the letter, the Minister, Nick Brown, explains that appeals could endanger the entire foot and mouth policy, by delaying still further the gap between outbreaks and slaughter: in particular, that part of the policy that involves killing all livestock within a two-mile radius of an infected farm.

"People want to argue about it," he told the BBC, "But the truth is the animals do have to go, otherwise the disease will remorselessly spread."

They're perfectly animals haven't been off my farm for 5 years

Moira Linaker

Yet those great considerations of national strategy are obviously failing to impress many farmers whose healthy animals are being lined up for culling.

The farmer

Moira Linaker has been told that her rare-breed sheep in Cumbria will have to be destroyed.

She told the World at One how she went about appealing against the cull of her animals.

She said that the main aim of appealing was "playing for time" and she hoped that if farmers held out for long enough, Nick Brown would be forced to vaccinate.

The campaigner

Elly Logan, the principal organiser of S.A.D. - "Stop Animal Deaths" - which is leading a campaign against the culling of healthy animals - told the World at One that the government did not have a right of access to land which would allow them to cull livestock if people barred their access.

The lawyer

But Christopher Jessel, a partner at Farrer and Co, rejected this objection.

It's the right of a citizen to keep out someone acting unlawfully

Christopher Jessel

He said that people do have the right to refuse access to their land if the people entering do not have legal authority.

But he stressed that the Animal Health Act of 1981 could be used to provide a legal basis for entering private land.

Mr Jessel also told the World at One that appeals should not seriously delay the cull because they need not take long to resolve.

The scientist

But while the lawyers argue the cases in court, many veterinary experts are keen to stress that extra delays COULD undermine the Government's culling policy.

Culled cows lie unburied in a field
Cull still behind schedule

David Barratt, a lecturer in Farm Animal Medicine at the University of Glasgow explained why he believed MAFF was right to urge farmers not to appeal against the cull of apparently healthy animals.

He said that since individual outbreaks are linked to neighbouring farms, it is necessary to remove all susceptible animals from the vicinity of disease outbreaks by culling.

Famer Moira Linaker
"It's all playing for time"
Elly Logan of S.A.D.
People in Cumbria are defying the cull successfully
Christopher Jessel of Farrer and Co
There is always a right to go to court if actions are unlawful
David Barratt, University of Glasgow
Vaccination option would only buy time in slaughter policy
Links to more Programme highlights stories are at the foot of the page.

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