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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 10:06 GMT
One year on: 'It's knocked us sideways'
Foot and mouth sign
Foot-and-mouth hit the UK a year ago
To mark the first anniversary of the disastrous outbreak of foot-and-mouth, this week we are hearing tales from various walks of life about what a year it's been. Here, Warwickshire farmer Adam Quinney reflects on what happens next.

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Foot-and-mouth: One year on

One year on from this bolt out of the blue, the disease - touch wood - is gone from this country.

Quinney
Adam Quinney: "Luckily I have a very helpful bank"
There's still the risk that it may be lurking somewhere in the sheep flock. Hopefully the controls we now have in place will stop it spreading like it did a year ago.

But the consequences are going to take years to get over. It has knocked our business completely sideways. A good example is our beef stock herd. We're starting off again with young cows and it's going to take two years before they calf and a further two years before we sell their offspring and see a return on our investment.

Luckily I have a very helpful landlord and a very helpful bank, but we have to work in the evenings away from the farm to keep things going. I'm training my fellow farmers to use computers; my wife works fulltime teaching.

'Disinfecting all day long'

The farm next door got foot-and-mouth right at the beginning - before the contiguous cull was introduced - so we had heavy restrictions placed on our farm.

Mud and sheep
Heavy rain turned the fields into a quagmire
We had to enter the animals into a welfare scheme because we didn't have any food left and had terrible conditions with mud. It was the wettest spring on record, a double whammy there. We had to shoot quite a few animals ourselves before the Ministry of Agriculture got to us in early May.

The disease increased our workload tremendously. We had to look after animals that would normally have been sold in March. We were disinfecting all day long. We had to show the vets around every day, go through the paperwork with them.

Most evenings it was at least 10pm before we got in. We didn't realise how exhausting it was. We collapsed in a big heap because we couldn't keep up with it all.

Shaken confidence

Whatever confidence we do have has turned into grim determination. For one, we can never go back to that level of slaughter and restrictions.

Quinney children play with lambs
He wonders if his children will follow in his footsteps
Nor can we go back to pre-foot-and-mouth - we've got to radically rethink the way we run our industry so we can return to profit and do the things people want farmers to do.

This summer is going to be a crossroads for many farmers as they make the decision whether to carry on or not. In my area, a lot of sons have decided to do something else, and the father is sat on the farm in his late 50s or early 60s wondering what on earth he's doing.

My own children are still quite young so deciding what they do with their futures are many years away. They occasionally express an interest, but I'd hate them to go into farming if they didn't love it the way I do.


One year on, send us your memories of foot-and-mouth, and tell us how it's impact is still being felt. Here's some of your comments so far:

Adam Quinney has hit the nail on the head. It is our desire for cheap meat which caused the conditions which led to foot-and-mouth. We must stand up against supermarkets ripping off our farmers. If the farmers can get a reasonable price for their produce, then they won't have to resort to the measures which started this whole thing off.
Lewis Clifford, UK

Modern farming practice does not habour the conditions for the disease. It may have spread more quickly but FMD is far more emdemic in less advanced farming countries. The disease was imported along similar lines to swine fever. We should have the same import controls you see when you visit the US or Antipodes.
Mike, England

Although we didn't have FMD in north-east Scotland, we suffered too. We had only sold one batch of store cattle when the outbreak started and had the additional feed costs for keeping the rest until May. We lost quite a number of calves simply because they were born outside and we didn't get to them in time. We're still struggling with our cash flow as a direct result. Things were tough before FMD, but we were managing to break even (barely).
Jane Smith, Scotland

In the 1980s the Conservatives closed hundreds of unprofitable mines - 20 years later farming is a similar millstone around the neck of our economy and we must take action to rid ourselves of it where appropriate.
James Tweedie, Scotland

The way the government mismanaged this disaster is absolutely scandalous. I feel very sorry for the farmers and their families - the real victims - many who will take years to recover.
Tim, UK

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Farmer Adam Quinney
"I'm a real glutton for punishment"

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