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EDITIONS
Monday, 22 July, 2002, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Foot-and-mouth report: Farmer's verdict
Adam Quinney
Adam Quinney, a West Midlands livestock farmer who recorded a diary for News Online during the foot-and-mouth crisis, gives his assessment of the latest official report into last year's outbreak of the disease.

From the outset of the foot-and-mouth outbreak last year many farmers knew that things were out of control.

The initial reaction from the government was half hearted, with terrible consequences.

Within days farmers all over the country were begging their MPs to put pressure on Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff) to bring in the army for their logistic skill.

Organising the movement of large equipment down small country lanes is not something that is learnt in five minutes.

Yet it took the government a month to call the army in.


If nothing else is learnt, Britain must realise the rural economy is vitally important

Adam Quinney
Sadly it seems that nobody dusted off the report from the 1967 outbreak, where it stated that speed in dealing with the disease had to be swift.

The first case in Essex took many days to deal with, according to local farmers, and potentially infected animals were not slaughtered for days.

In the late spring last year Maff suddenly woke-up to the fact that foot-and-mouth disease was out of control.

In such times a well thought out plan needs to be implemented, not an off-the-cuff plan.

Unfortunately the state vet service had been run down over many years.

Vaccination was proposed by people who did not know one end of a cow from the other: the way that Maff were planning to vaccinate against the disease would never have delivered the required results.

Mass slaughter

In one plan only cattle in Cumbria would have been vaccinated, but what about the sheep in Cumbria?

These unvaccinated animals would have spread the disease far and wide for a number of years.

At the time many of the major retailers said they would not take vaccinated meat, although they now say differently.

All farmers would rather vaccinate than see mass slaughter, but it has to be a well thought out policy that leaves the industry in a strong position and with a product to sell.

There is no doubt that the failure of Nick Brown - Agriculture Minister at the time - to organise Maff has brought many rural businesses to the brink of disaster.

Tourism

If nothing else is learnt, Britain must realise the rural economy is vitally important and the interplay between farming and tourism is vital.

Without a thriving farming industry many tourist attractions would loose their sparkle.

I hope the recent reports on last year's horrific events are acted on, and not left to gather dust like the Northumberland Report.

I hope now that Defra keeps the promise that it made last year; namely to stop all imports of potentially infected meat and to have a clear workable policy on dealing with foot-and-mouth disease.

Industry has to be involved in this plan.

Another out break of the disease would be totally unacceptable and spell disaster for people all over Britain, who are rebuilding their businesses after last year.


Previous diaries from Adam Quinney:

  • 29 January: Curry Report verdict

  • 7 August: Foot and mouth scapegoats

  • 18 July: A bleak outlook

  • 22 June: A question of economics

  • 15 June: What now?

  • 9 May: Returning to normal

  • 8 May: Death in the afternoon

  • 25 April: Drowning in bureaucracy

  • 19 April: A close shave

  • 12 April: Rain, lambs and skylarks

  • 4 April: Tough decisions

  • 29 March: An Anxious wait

  • 22 March: Staring ruin in the face

  • 12 March: A farmer's fears



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    See also:

    29 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
    29 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
    24 Jan 02 | Health
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