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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Foot-and-mouth farmer's anguish
Farmer Roger Pride, whose cattle were culled after contracting foot-and-mouth last week, has spoken of his family's "nightmare".

Roger Pride
Roger Pride says it is a dreadful time for everyone
He issued the following statement at a press conference in Surrey, near his family's Woolford Farm:

Our business is D Pride and partners. It was started by my parents Derrick and Sheila about 50 years ago and is now being carried on by myself and my wife Valerie.

During that time we have built up what I hope and believe is a well-run and respected family business.

The mainstay of our business is buying-in store cattle at six months and over, which we fatten for beef. We finish around 50 cattle a year and the beef is mainly sold through the farm shop.

We check our animals every day and it was when my father Derrick was with the cattle last Thursday that he noticed that some of them were off-colour and drooling.

It felt as if our whole world had been turned upside down
He contacted me and asked me to come and have a look. This I did and it was immediately obvious that something was badly wrong.

We contacted our vet straight away and he advised us to inform Defra. The Defra vet was on the farm within an hour and a half.

By this time it was late in the evening and getting dark, so the vet asked us to have the cattle penned by 5.30 the next morning for testing.

Testing started at 6am and continued until four in the afternoon. At that time, it was very far from clear that the animals were in fact suffering from FMD (foot-and-mouth disease).

It was at about 7(pm) that Defra Animal Health phoned to say that the tests were positive. For a moment, we couldn't believe it.

We were just completely shocked and devastated. It felt as if our whole world had been turned upside down.

Closed for months

There were 38 cattle in that group, with another group of 22 in the village and four more back on farm. All three groups were valued and humanely slaughtered on Saturday.

Whilst we will be compensated for the market value of the cattle, there are the cleaning and disinfection costs to be resolved and our farming business will be closed down for many months.

We have always practised the highest standards of biosecurity at Woolford Farm
Whatever the cause of the outbreak, it is obvious that we have been the victims of circumstances far beyond our control.

The theory that the sewer which overflowed into part of the field where the 38 cattle were grazing could be the cause is an obvious possibility.

Certainly, no-one from this farm has had any contact with the Pirbright facility.

We have always practised the highest standards of biosecurity at Woolford Farm, have been meticulous with our record keeping and no animals have been moved on to or off the farm since early June.

Compassion and sensitivity

As we are sure you can imagine, this has been a dreadful time for everyone and, although it is in very regrettable circumstances, we would like to thank all of the Defra Animal Health officials at Reigate and the other officials who we have come into contact with for their compassion, sensitivity and professionalism.

We would urge all farmers and members of the public to follow the guidance issued by Defra
We sincerely hope that the nightmare we have been living through can be avoided by other farmers and we therefore strongly support all of the measures that have been put in place to stop the spread of this terrible disease.

We would urge all farmers and members of the public to follow the guidance issued by Defra and respect the need for the highest possible level of biosecurity.

We would also like to thank the very many friends and farm shop customers for the hundreds of messages of support we have received, and indeed the local farming community for all the help that they have provided.

We need now to get on with rebuilding our lives and our business.



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