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2001: Healthy cattle to die to save Exmoor

The government says it will press ahead with the slaughter of more than 1,000 cattle on two farms near Exmoor, even though there is no sign of foot-and-mouth disease.

Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) officials say up to 1,600 cattle on two farms between Bridgetown and Dulverton, near Exmoor, may have to be killed after fears that a farm worker, Rob Norman, had come into contact with the disease.


"All we can do is to try and make Maff see sense. And stop trying to blackmail us, and stop this bloody nonsense of saying all our neighbours want us culled. It's a bloody lie!"

Guy Thomas-Everard, Exmoor farmer

They said they were "extremely worried" by four new cases confirmed around the village of Wiveliscombe, near Taunton.

Three of the four new cases have involved animals belonging to Mr Norman whose movements over the past two weeks are being traced by ministry officials concerned that the disease could spread further into Exmoor itself and affect wild deer.

But Exmoor farmer Guy Thomas-Everard, whose family runs the Dulverton farm, says his animals have been given a clean bill of health and he has instructed lawyers to fight Maff's decision.

He blocked the entrance to his farm with a cattle truck and, in an emotional interview, he told the BBC: "All we can do is to try and make Maff see sense. And stop trying to blackmail us, and stop this bloody nonsense of saying all our neighbours want us culled. It's a bloody lie!"

The cases come as a blow to the county - which had only seen one earlier outbreak - and where restrictions were about to be lifted.


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