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Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Friday, 18 February 2011
Foot-and-Mouth outbreak in 2001 remembered by farmers
Cow generic
Six million livestock had to be culled after the foot-and-mouth outbreak

Ten years ago, the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease devastated the UK farming industry forcing the cull of six million sheep, pigs and cattle.

Here in Somerset, there were eight reported cases although more farmers culled their livestock as a precaution.

Rob Walrond, a farmer from Pitney was a volunteer with the Farm Crisis Network.

He said: "My main memory was the fear among farmers of the disease coming onto their farms and also their hopelessness and sense of isolation."

'Sense of desolation'

The Farm Crisis Network is a national helpline, run by groups of volunteers from the farming community and rural church congregations.

"The paths were closed down, movements were stopped between farms and markets so there was no opportunity for people to get off their farms.

It's almost like losing your family if you have to have them destroyed
Rob Walrond

"I remember we had a disinfectant mat at the end of the road coming into our farm and we were very careful and cautious of any vehicles that came.

"Any feed delivery, their tyres had to be sprayed and everything, so there was no contamination spread from farm to farm."

The 24 hour helpline was set up just before the outbreak.

Rob's telephone counselling work would involve taking calls from heartbroken farmers who "would be sobbing away about the loss of their animals".

"There was a tremendous sense of desolation and somehow you had to try and encourage people and give them some hope through those times."

'Love the work'

Since the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001, around 25,000 people a year have left agriculture according to the charity.

"As a farmer myself it hurts me if we have to have an animal put down but to lose your whole herd or your whole flock is absolutely devastating.

"Livestock farmers aren't in it for the money, they're in it because they love the work, they love the animals, they work with the animals.

"Often many, many years of hard work and expertise have gone into breeding a particular flock and it's almost like losing your family if you have to have them destroyed."

The charity also said isolation among farmers continues to be a problem today, as well the increasing pressure of having to deal with an increasing amount of paperwork.

Foot-and-mouth divisions remain
18 Feb 11 |  South of Scotland
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Foot and mouth memories still raw
13 Feb 11 |  Cumbria



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