BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 06/99: BSE Inquiry  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
BSE Inquiry Friday, 18 June, 1999, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
The farmer's tale
calf
Michael Fordham: His BSE-free herd is losing money because of the crisis
By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

Michael Fordham, a farmer born and bred, counts himself a lucky man.

He runs a 1,000-acre family farm in East Sussex, in the shadow of the South Downs.


It is a mixed farm, with arable crops and a 40-strong herd of beef cattle.

And in the last fifteen years, it has not had a single case of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), "mad cow disease".

"It was partly luck", says Michael Fordham. "And it was partly because our cattle have always fed on grass and forage from the farm."

"Dairy animals are usually given cattle feed - and that's how BSE is thought to have arisen, with diseased sheep remains going into the feed..."

But Mr Fordham says the farm has certainly been affected by the crisis, which began in 1984.

"It's partly the increased paperwork involved in tracing every animal from birth to butcher's slab, to prove that it is BSE-free.

"I have to spend several extra hours a week, at a busy time when the herd is calving, just filling in forms."

But far more serious is the financial cost.

"Since the government's announcement in March 1996 of a suspected link between BSE and the human equivalent, CJD, we've lost about 4,000 a year.

"And we haven't had a single case of BSE, remember.

Confidence destroyed

"When it comes to breeding animals, one of our Simmental-Limousin crosses would have fetched about 600 before 1996.

"Now she'll go for 300 - 400.

"For many farmers, their animals are in effect their pensions.

"I know some near here who've farmed all their lives. Now they've simply lost confidence.

cow
Every animal has lost value since 1996
"They thought they were providing good wholesome food for people.

"But they saw their life's work quite literally going up in smoke.

"Some of them have left farming altogether, especially the older ones."

And Michael Fordham is critical of the government's handling of the crisis.

"It should have paid 100% compensation for every BSE suspect from the start.

"When a single suspect animal was found, it should have slaughtered the entire herd.

"And it should have enforced the regulations it introduced.

"It was in a position to make sure the safeguards were observed. And it failed to do so."

See also:

19 Mar 99 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more BSE Inquiry stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more BSE Inquiry stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes